Bit different this one, no comics in it so feel free to skip it. Pretty much just a big vent. A great howl of anguish at the tsunami of jackassery in which me and mine have to exist. Basically, so appalled have I been by my own behaviour that I wrote this an act of atonement. Like that Ian McEwan book, Night of The Crabs; no, it was...oh, I can't remember which one it is! So, an old man tries to engage with the world around him and hilarity ensues. It's a cautionary tale, natch. Look out, Brendan Gleeson!
First, enter my confusing world:
1. Britain = England and Wales. This term has been outmoded since Roman times, however it’s often (incorrectly) used as a synonym for Great Britain (see (2)). 2. Great Britain = England, Scotland & Wales. This Union was established in 1707 A.D. (AKA Britain see(1)) 3. The UK = The United Kingdom of Great Britain(see (2)) and Northern Ireland 4. England = England. (Fascinatingly for a place much concerned with immigration the name England is derived from Engla Land, which meant Land of The Angles. Spurred on by the implacable Huns the Angles came from Germany to invade Britain (named as such by the Romans) , along with the Saxons and the Jutes, in the 5th Century. And let’s not forget we took our Royal Family from Germany. Ironic, non? Or more pertinently, ironic, nein?)
GEORGE A. ROMERO'S BREXIT (2016)
1. The Bit That’s Kind of Fun To Lure You In.
Someone Who Just Didn't Try Hard Enough To Better Himself.
Zombies! (Stick with me here.) They are everyblummingwhere these days! But then that’s the point of zombies, isn’t it? To be everywhere. Not entirely, no. Sometimes they can be used to say stuff about the state of the world. Sometimes these statements can even be intentional. In old British horror movies, say, posh fox hunting fops would have had ‘em down their tin mines in Cornwall. “They’re the working class. And treating them like that’s not on.” says Hammer’s Plague of The Zombies (1966). Meanwhile over in that sexy, younger and richer America we hear so much about, the message was more modern and the zombie movie acted as the last defiant twitch of society’s death nerve before the anaesthesia of consumerism took hold. “They’re us. And that’s not good either.” says George A. Romero’s Night/Dawn/Day of The Dead (1969-1983). But it’s all change now! Now (he said, generalising insanely) zombies are basically a thuggishly dumb metaphor for large groups of folk who scare us. Immigrants. The poor. Hedge Fund Managers. God save us from poor, immigrant Hedge Fund Managers! Sure, everyone fears large groups of people who are slightly different to them, it’s only human. I mean, they might want something! And then you might have less of what you’ve got! Which is very much like them eating your face. From dated but instructive class-war navel-gazing and edgy ‘Nam soaked social commentary, zombies have now been reduced to the humdrum horror staple of Fear of the Other. They used to be Us but now they are Them. (Well, except for The Walking Dead which is a metaphor for boredom. Actually it’s not even a metaphor, it’s just boring.) It would currently be hard to find a more divisive, simplistic and mean spirited trope in pop culture than the zombie. But then these are divisive, simplistic and mean spirited times. As I found out in no uncertain terms in 2016. 2016: The Year of Brexit. 2016: The year a whole country self-harmed. 2016: The Year of Damage.
2. The Bit Where I Restrain Myself From Making Fun of People Who Say, “I Don’t Want To Be Racist But…”
The Infamous BREXIT Battlebus with Michael Gove, Ian Duncan-Smith, Boris Johnson and a lucky, lucky filly.
C’mon, you knew I was going to do something about BREXIT didn’t you? Ideally it wouldn’t be (however long it’s been) out of date but the site’s been down (like the pound. Guffaw! Haw! Haw!) Also, I didn’t know if I should. I mean it’s not COMICS!!! is it? No. But every couple of years I like to talk to you about something not comics, something slightly more real. So, you know, you can get a flavour of my magical life. How I react to life (clue: badly). You don’t have to read this you know, but weirdly I do feel like I have to write it. So, anyway, the whole BREXIT fiasco was probably all very funny-ha-ha viewed from overseas, but here in the thick of the shit it was a relentlessly depressing experience. I thought I had a pretty realistic opinion of the UK and the English people in particular. I don’t go in for all that Spitfire flypast, cricket on the village green, sunny uplands, bowler hats, know your place, a corner of some foreign field and the old Empire abides shit, but I still thought there was lots of good over here beneath the hallucinatory jingoistic nonsense most see as our National Character. Fundamentally, I thought, down deep we’re, you know, drunk. No, sorry, I mean basically decent. (And drunk.) Not a bad lot (For drunks.) Turned out I was aiming a bit high. Because, England? Pretty racist. And when I say pretty racist I’m not talking about Lady Cynthia Mosley there. I mean, Christ, I grew up in the ‘70s so I know racism from “a bit of fun” and I hoped that crap was on the wane. Woof! Guess again, grandad! Look, I wasn’t just disappointed by events, I was angry too. Whether or not to leave the European Union (EU) was an important decision. There were of course very real reasons to leave the EU, and there were very real reasons for remaining in the EU, and should an entire country be presented with a voice in which one it is to be, it is only desirable that engaged, informed debate result. Unless you are in the UK, apparently. In which case a load of racist horseshit and fear mongering will be hosed at the populace for months; with one side riding about in a double decker bus like it’s all just a malignantly xenophobic Cliff Richard movie, and the other lot just disdainfully indicating you should know your place, do as you’re told, and threatening punishment Budgets.
3. The Bit Where 40 Years of Lies Pay Off Handsomely.
A despicable sight. And the poster's a bit ill-judged too.
Basically both sides came across as hateful and witless. But then both sides had Tories as their figureheads and I find Tories hateful and witless even before they start trying to chivvy me into doing what they want, like I’m some kind of recalcitrant child. However, only one side managed to squeeze sexy, sexy racism into the mix. Sure, not everyone who wanted Out (i.e. Brexit, geddit.) was a racist, but as Will Self said, “Not everyone who voted Brexit was racist, but all racists voted Brexit.” So, yeah, basically as penance for watching Love Thy Neighbour when I was 6, I ended up going for the lesser of two evils. Now it’s probably illegal for me to say what I voted, so let’s just say that to my bitter chagrin, I lost. Apparently I underestimated the traction 40 odd years of relentless anti-EU bullshit (They’re cancelling Christmas! Bonkers Brussels spits on Brits! Immigrants Given Castles and Gold Unicorns! Migrants Ate My Mortgage!) had gained on the English psyche. Also, it turns out the English grasp on modern history is a bit lax. Sorry, sons and daughters of Albion, but England didn’t liberate Europe in WW2. Nor did Britain, or the UK come to that. I mean, I’m impressed as all get out by our plucky conduct in that little fracas but, c’mon, the Allies liberated Europe in WW2. Mostly Russia and America, alas. Easy mistake to make, because as Oliver Platt said in LAKE PLACID, “They conceal information like that in books”. Also, The Empire? Not coming back. Sorry about that too. We had a good run, but it was a onetime thing. Mind you, all those countries we ****ed off with The Empire? Still out there. Gagging to trade with us as well, I imagine. No hard feelings, eh? Ooops.
4. The Traditional Bit Where The Title of the Piece is Referenced Explicitly.
Holmfirth: Scene of an inter-generational contretemps which made things worse. Which is a bit like BREXIT in a nutshell.
So, yeah, I lost. In fact, I lost it big time in Holmfirth (location for the enduringly sedate Sunday night sitcom Last of The Summer Wine) when my Dad turned to me and said, “Well, looks like that Nigel Farage is going to get us our country back!” If anyone that day had their stay in the leafy respite from conurbation which is Holmfirth spoiled by a piss thin baldy shouting at a startled old man about people being too lazy to think; people living in Fantasy Land; the country not having gone anybloodywhere; and not to blame the EU for the Conservative Government’s faults then I can only apologise. Also, sorry, Dad. He’ll be dead soon and then I’ll feel good won’t I? Dead Dads aside, I mean this BREXIT was everywhere. It was like that George Romero movie THE CRAZIES, only with a referendum on the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union instead of a chemical weapon spill. It even got into me. I’m usually as bovine as everyone else, but my dander was up this time.
5. The Obligatory Bit of Self Loathing (12” Extended Dance Mix).
How much? Well, at one point (after the result, before the reality kicked in) I was at my garage looking for my copies of Howard Victor Chaykin’s Time2 to cheer myself up (I didn’t find them. Balls!) when my neighbour appeared; he said since I was “politicised” he was interested in which way had I opted. (No one who knew me prior to the birth of my son would ever have described me as politicised. Moronic, drunk, self-abusing, anti-social, sarcastic, unhygienic, generally unpleasant, self-destructive and just plain truculently shit-headed, perhaps, but not politicised. Have a kid though, and the future looks important. I could have done without such a paradigm shift but you don’t always get any choice in the matter. Your brain just changes and you have to hang on tight. There’s pre-“Gil” John and there’s post-“Gil” John and there’s a reason why there’s a thick line drawn between the two. That reason is, I am insane. Hoo! Hoo!) Anyway, parentheses be damned, back at the garage: before we answered we both unconsciously took a step back, kind of like we were about to start circling a la horny Spock and torn shirt Kirk in AMOK TIME, basically, a bit like blows might start to be thrown. None were, because it transpired we were of a similar mind. (Also: adults.) But that second where we stepped back, two grown men in front of their garages, who had playfully sparred in the past (Tory C**t!, Commie T**t; reasoned debate like that) and for a second there…just utter, utter madness. That was BREXIT in microcosm. Utter bloody madness. And it went on and on and on for ****ing months. People in positions of responsibility and power straight up lying and getting away with it. Utter, utter crap coming out of people’s mouths. And I reiterate that I don’t mean ordinary people there, I mean elected representatives just throwing truth to the wind, sneering at facts and acting like all this was consequence free fun and games. The gall of those fraudulent chancers. Jesus. Christ. And it’s still going on. The lies and the Brexit. And the nasty, nasty side effects. At the time of writing hate crimes are up and Polish people have been beaten and killed, the pound is lower than a squid’s prolapsed arse and the UK looks like The Thug of Europe. But a really stupid thug; one who is stamping on his own face. I can’t tell you how proud I am.
6. The Bit Where We All Learn An Important Lesson.
The Person In Charge of Our Country This Week
Helpfully, The Prime Minister keeps saying “Brexit is Brexit”. Oh yeah, wait, we got a new Prime Minister. See, the old one, David “Statesman” Cameron, held the referendum in order to stop the Tories haemorrhaging voters to UKIP (don’t ask; horrible party. Basically everything is someone else’s fault, mainly foreigners’.), he said he would abide by the decision, trigger Article 50 (the mechanism by which our leaving is initiated) immediately a decision was known, and stay in post to shepherd the change through. He held the referendum alright, then resigned the day after and said everything to do with Brexit was “a matter for the new Prime Minister”. What a Statesman. What a man of his word. What a cock. Brave Sir David ran away…as Monty Python might have it. The Eaton scoundrel having departed, our new PM is Theresa May (who got the position by default; long and boring story) who looks made from compacted fag ash and has yet to do anything useful. No, I don’t count an End-of-The-Pier Thatcher Tribute Act with added weird wind-milling arm movements as something useful. But unless this heinous experience be mere fodder for the black dogs to rend my soul, lessons must be learned, and the lesson I learned came courtesy of my sister. On a rare visit to her abode I asked how she’d voted and she sort of collapsed in on herself like dying flower viewed on fast forward time lapse and said, “Oh, Johnny! I voted Out but I didn’t think we’d win! It was a protest vote! Oh, no!” Which is just excellent. Truly sublime. Also, she wasn’t isolated in that. So, let me just say this to all the people who got what they didn’t want because they decided to use the referendum as a protest vote: If you wish to vote in protest, try doing so in one of our local or general elections, which occur at regular intervals, rather than choosing a once in a lifetime referendum which will continue to affect the future of our country long after we are all long dead. Look, the folk in charge are just taking the P*ss now. They aren't even pretending to be accountable. So use that vote, and use it wisely. May life be kind to you, and I’ll see you all on the sunny uplands!
NEXT TIME: If I haven’t been hung for Treason – COMICS!!!