It felt like the best time & the worst time to get away. Leaving for Spain a week before the election, with the Labour campaign stepping up, with people really starting to think that no matter what they thought of Corbyn they were still prepared to invest their vote in a strategic stand against the laughable leadership of May. I felt selfish and irresponsible, & grossly hypocritical flying away to switch my brain off while truly hoping others were switching theirs on. It felt as I left like the pro left campaign was gathering steam, clawing traction, as far as you can tell such things. But then I felt confident that we wouldn’t vote Leave & that Trump would not get even one cloven hoof anywhere near the White House. My political indicators are obviously flawed by natural and increasingly unhelpful naivety. “It’s all going to be ok.”
No, Sadie. It really might not be.
Sitting by the side of a pool reading news of post Manchester strength and then of the London attacks – terror in my old London Bridge & Borough Market stomping ground, pubs & streets I drank & walked in every day in my early 20s, right next to the market-side Southwark Tavern where I still take a yearly pilgrimage to have a pint for my old friend Barry, lost too young – I felt trapped.
The country didn’t need me, there was nothing useful I could do, but my heart was at home. A Brit abroad, proud of her country, despite its tendency to do dickish things and danger-dance on a sticky slope. I still felt pride in our togetherness despite the things that want to tear us apart; horrific acts by people who live amongst us with hatred in their hearts; the right-led social fractures that seemingly seek to reinstate old shameful class divisions based on money and lack. The bad and the good; the fury and the violence and the tolerance and the peace. The haves and have nots. The protected and strong very much apart from the unprotected and vulnerable. The crack-splitters & the cement.
Left with nothing to do but lie in the sun, listening to the music piped around the pool, contemporary trendy music by people I’ve never heard of that I would normally bat away as mundane and brainless, lyrics started drifting into my ears. Toes unconsciously tapping to the beat, but mind trying to fathom the psychology needed to burst amongst a crowd, relentlessly stabbing, close enough to see the whites of their terrified eyes, somehow a different evil than that needed for a more distant sacrificial-style suicide bombing. I resented the jaunty music playing while I caught up on the news. I felt cut off. Massive holiday guilt.
But I had Facebook waving defiant spirit like an ‘up yours’ flag to a savage world. I had friends doing good things. I had the news showing people saying we won’t be bowed by evil; the picture of one man running through London chaos still holding on to his pint, a perfect encapsulation of English steel and humour, whether he intended it or not. Then there was Ariana Grande being a class act. Liam Gallagher joining Chris Martin on stage in Mancunian unity. Music was using its strength and talking loudly. Music has always been one of the biggest strongest advocates we’ve got.
Sitting in Spain, heart on a long anchor chain leading back home, the music playing in the bars was by artists probably young enough to be my kids, genres that pass me by, lyrics I’d normally tut at. But some of the words came from the right place and stilled my twitch while I tapped my feet in the sun.
Like “We’re in this together. Hear our hearts beat together. We stand strong together. We’re in this forever.” That was David Guetta. Very rousing. He sounds like a nice lad.
And “The world can be a nasty place. You know it, I know it, yeah. We don’t have to fall from grace; put down the weapons you fight with and kill ’em with kindness.” That was Selena Gomez. Go Selena. That’s prime UN-worthy shit right there.
“Life is a game & love is the name.” By Sophia…someone. Ok, it’s not Aristotle but it’s pithy and kind of true. Then there was lots of stuff about doing things in ‘the club’ which made me semi-retch. And lots of Adele which made me raise my arms to the sun like a burning crabstick diva.
It was the only music I had, and it wasn’t what I would choose, but it would do until I got home. So I raised a stiff drink or ten in the direction of Blighty. And drank it all down with hope and trepidation, thinking of the election the day after I arrive home. Willing home to stand up and do the best it can for the masses. For the many not the few. Cheers.