Culturally Discombobulated

“I was the future once”

I went to my local barbershop this lunchtime for a trim. It’s an old fashioned sort of joint; those parts of the walls not painted in chartreuse have affixed to them wood paneling that seems to have been untouched since the 1970s. What it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up in price – and character. A trio of elderly barbers sit there all day waiting for customers to enter – though they seldom do. The shop being already empty when I show, I invariably feel like I am intruding, momentarily interrupting their conversations on how to put the world to rights. To see to me, to spruce me up, one of the three has to commit to getting out of his chair, and, worst of all, leaving the conversation; I am always left with the feeling that the one who volunteers to cut my hair is the one who last lost at cards. His punishment is showing me to a chair and placing a barber cloth around me while his two friends remain in their comfortable seats opining.

Their Eastern European accents mean their conversations are often hard to follow. I can make out snatches of sentences, but often just that. There was some Brexit talk today, however, before it then descended into rants against Obama and Bush. In fact, maybe it isn’t the accents that is the problem to understanding, but that political rage, no matter the speaker or side, always ends up coming across as incoherent. The only phrase that I could understand without straining was “when Reagan died, America died.”

I’m not sure if anyone in the future will be so elegiac about today’s departing Prime Minister, though there is always something moving, even melancholic, about the handover of power from one PM to another. There really is nothing quite like humanizing a Prime Minister as the manner in which we make them leave. For a nation that sometimes lingers too much on the Pomp and Circumstance, the appearance by number 10 of a removal van to cart off the PM’s personal belongings is refreshingly quotidian. All political lives end in failure, remarked Enoch Powell, a man whose own ended more in infamy, but that waiting removal van, the engine already running, is a perfect emblem of it.

And it’s goodbye from him


The George Costanza Approach To Brexit

Government officials could try pulling a Costanza next week – just show up in Brussels and pretend it was all one big joke.


UK presses the big red button ignoring the “do not press” sign next to it.

It’s late. I feel winded by tonight. I’m drinking a bottle of beer while following along to the BBC coverage of Britain leaving the EU (Dimbleby is interviewing a surprisingly dour looking, considering his side has just won, Liam Fox).  I’m tired and I want to go to sleep, but I guess I want to see if rumours of a Cameron resignation come to fruition, and I also thought I should record my immediate thoughts on this silly  – increasingly political in tone – blog that I keep.

I’ve experienced elections that didn’t go my way before – we all have – and while it hurts, there is always that encouraging thought that next time will turn out better for your side. This, however, feels different, genuinely heart breaking. A plebiscite like this is a once-in-a-generation event, the Britain – for better or worse – that will result from this referendum is going to be very different. Losing this one hurts; it brings about a despair that is so much more pervasive than is ever the case when you lose a General Election. Both sides – to neither’s credit – has presented this referendum as something of a Manichean choice and so losing feels utterly disastrous; history you didn’t want to see made.