The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 05 Jul 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Everything isn’t nice

It’s late on a Monday afternoon. The coach rolls up to the National Trust property and a horde of seventy somethings get off the bus. They’re wearing elasticated waist trousers they bought from the supplement of a Sunday newspaper and radiate a contented air. A few of them are wearing straw hats. After the initial bafflement of being in a new location and wandering around blinking, they stroll around with a proprietorial air, like geriatric automatons, as though the entire world exists solely for their benefit. Everything is nice.

And it is nice for them. They grew up in a time of unimagined prosperity, retired just as it was all going wrong and are now free to wander around in their dotage, cushioned by the fact that the world has always been nice. There are other people, of course, children and grandchildren, but all they need to do is work hard, just like them, and everything will probably be fine. They can’t be expected to worry about details, as they pad softly around in their brilliant white trainers or ride the electric buggy, staring at the flowers with rheumy, half-dead eyes.

Except while everything is nice for them, it isn’t very nice for other people. About forty minutes up the road is Westminster, which is in the process of slowly eating itself. As a consequence of the feast, businesses are bleeding money, investments are positively haemorrhaging it and capital is flying out of the country as fast as it can. Applications for citizenship of other countries are increasing and confidence in the UK is over. But this won’t disturb the ageing Baby Boomers. They voted to get their country back and, for the last twenty years of their lives, they’ll have it back, albeit at a cost they may not see.

As I watched them padding around Nymans, the men normally bald and the women with a corona of hair dyed by the girl on work experience around a crown of thinning grey wisps, I found them easy to hate. It was probably the complacency, the compound smugness of years of steadily growing privilege and the sense that everything must conform to their worldview or be somehow found wanting. Like Francis Bacon’s screaming popes, I wanted to stick several thousands volts through them and watch them slowly roast as they screamed out their agony.

Except it isn’t their fault, of course. They’re the smug product of a smug age, an age whose smug people decided in their smugness, that as they were doing rather nicely, they’d vote in Thatcher and shaft the people who weren’t. But that’s the problem. Smugness prevails and normally wins elections, while in other countries, a different mindset prevails. Try the smugness card in France, and an angry mob would start turning cars over and setting them on fire. And if your motorcade got caught in that, you’d end up dragged from your car and gutted in the time it took you to say ‘help’ while you spent your last seconds watching as a man ate your kidneys.

Politicians aren’t afraid of the people, because the people are too supine. They could do pretty much anything, up to and probably including packing European citizens into cattle trucks and people would grumble, someone would start a petition and nothing would happen. On Monday, everyone would go back to retweeting kitten GIFs and perhaps a wanking chimpanzee, but nobody would actually do anything. Suggest that you should form an angry mob, storm Downing Street and perform acts of violence, and they’d make noises, but nobody would.

Of course, I’m part of this. I’m just as passive as anyone else, in fact, even more so. My response to the referendum result is not to plan to join an angry mob or get hold of a rifle, but to leave the country and not return. You could argue, convincingly, that this is taking passivity to a whole new level. In fact, come to think of it, I saw ‘Boris’ Johnson at Teddington station alone a few years ago and didn’t push him on the tracks, and saw Nicholas Soames at a village fete and didn’t kick his cock off. Clearly, I’m just as bad as everyone else.

As I write this, the Tories are probably going to choose Andrea Leadsom as their leader, which will be met with the usual mute whimper and the country limps on towards being shoved out of the EU like a drunk who has shat himself in the local he’s now barred from. And this, dear hearts, is our country, where everything, for just enough people, is nice. No protest, no outrage, no civil war or insurrection on the streets. Let’s not disturb the niceness.

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