08/04/2019 - 11/04/2019
London was never my town. To me it lacks the ambiance of Paris, the cultural richness of Rome, the political meaningfulness of Berlin or the beauty of Prague. My hotel is at the north end of Marylebone so I take the train to the tower of London. The castle is boring and uninviting and I leave sooner than expected, crossing the tower bridge and making my way back towards the hotel on the south bank. Passing London bridge, the Shard and Shakespeare’s globe. Visiting the Tate and having lunch there. Continuing along the wharf towards the London eye and the carnival surrounding it, missing a live performance by the Guilty Feminist by one day. Crossing Westminster bridge towards a scaffolding covered Big Ben tower which is no longer called that and wasn’t ever called that in the first place. Going up towards Trafalgar where young girls in risque outfits enjoy the first sun rays of the year that are too cold for my taste. Too early to retire I stroll around SoHo, back towards Piccadilly Circus, upwards to Oxford street, taking a bit of Hyde park along the way. About twenty years ago I had a blast in London. Exiting Victoria and Albert, I was walking along the many casinos there in the direction of Harrods. Asking one of the casinos about the entrance requirements, I met a girl that turned out to be the daughter of the casino owner. Rather than spending the night at a casino losing my money she took me to clubs which I - in a very contrary fashion - actually enjoyed. Something about her personality invigorated me, turning me from a bah-humbug introvert to a suave club-goer. A part of me wants to retrace my steps and see if the casino where we met is still there but I relent. Visiting it would not add to the memories, it can only take away. Everything looks worse in black and white is it not?
The hostel is full of long-stayers. A Belgium girl is in the bunk below me, she wants to become a music lyrics writer. She has no money and shares the single bed with a guy who works behind the bar below. Later I hear from others that they have been warned a couple of times about having sex together and will soon be told to find another hostel. Another girl is a local girl and she starts by saying that she doesn’t want to talk about Brexit. It is the same with all British I have met during my travels all over the world; ‘I don’t want to talk about Brexit, I know nothing about it’ and then giving a 10 minute monologue on why they think the Brexit is a bad idea, why it happened and what should happen now. This girl is no different. She blames the poor regions for voting pro Brexit for all the wrong reasons. I tell her I am pro Brexit too. She looks startled. I tell her that we should take all the pro Brexit voters, leave them on the Island, build one of Trump’s big walls around the island, cut them off from internet communications and import/export and just let them inbreed for 200 years. Those that voted ‘stay’ are welcome to move to Europe, I have three spare bedrooms for the first three that want to come over.
I doubt it is as simple as she says though, the poor voting for the wrong reasons. It is not a matter of wealth, people, rich and poor do usually just as they are told. By neighbors, by the press, by conventions. It is innate to our species. Perhaps there is an element of snobbery involved, the British seeing their once great ‘rule Britannia’ crumble into itself until nothing but a somber wet island remained that is not even recognized by the EU. Look at the headlines from 2017 in British newspapers:
- You can’t bully us Mr Barmier
- May’s Brexit threat to Europe
- May eases Brexit fears but warns UK will walk away from ‘bad deal’
- Theresa’s new FREE Britain
- Cheers to a great British future
Reading these back you can’t help but think the British pro Brexit voters somehow believed the EU would be on its knees begging the UK to stay. But the truth is that the UK has not been relevant in the EU since the days of Thatcher. The EU has been a German thing ever since that country has reunited. Funnily enough growing strong because of their commitment to take in others that are worse off.
There are no worries in the in the streets though. People do not feel it in their wallets yet. The carnival is full of merriment. The London Eye is making its endless revolves. And a girl in her prettiest dress is wearing her fanciful shades because the sun is shining bright.