brexit, Liverpool Echo

Brexit and the Blitz: the good old days that really weren’t

SO FAR I have resisted writing about Brexit, a subject which for many is about as welcome as the norovirus and just as messy.

Let’s face it, it’s a tricky enough topic among friends let alone strangers particularly if you’re unsure which side of the line people sit. One word out of place and that’s you off a Christmas list for life.

But this week I have found myself shouting at the telly too many times to ignore the madness.

You see I’ve detected an unpleasant shiver of anticipation among some Brexiters of late; a gleeful girding of loins ahead of the catastrophe that a no-deal Brexit will bring. And it’s all deeply unpleasant.

Incredibly as it seems, there are those who appear to be actually looking forward to the chaos of March 29, seeing it as a way for the nation to test its collective mettle.

After all, we haven’t enjoyed a proper battle in decades. Brexit is a great opportunity to bait Johnny Foreigner across the Channel, engage in a tussle and damn the hardship.

Food shortages? Rubbish piling up on the streets? Lack of medicines? Civil unrest?

Pah! The thinking among these crazy fools seems to be “we’ve lived through a war and we’ll survive”.

Except “we” haven’t lived through a war.

It was our parents and grandparents who endured it. It was they who put up with the bombs falling and the lack of food, the enforced separation of families and the constant fear of a telegram with the worst possible news arriving at the door.  

To invoke that kind of suffering – other people’s suffering – and fetishise it as something to which to aspire is deeply offensive and shockingly flawed. 

I’ve heard a great deal too about the “Blitz spirit”, this idea that in the darkest of times Brits pull together – usually with the aid of a nice cup of tea and a jam sandwich.

But here’s the thing. The Blitz wasn’t a great jolly jape. It was awful.

Tens of thousands of people died, homes and lives and businesses were destroyed and people suffered for years afterwards.

It was terrifying and unrelenting and far from bringing people together in many instances it tore communities apart. In some cities crimes such as looting – even from the bodies of the dead – and theft flourished. Black marketeers took advantage of the situation and of the most vulnerable. The blackout was the pick-pocket’s best friend and prostitution went through the roof.

Yes, there was courage and stoicism.

But there was also hardship and loss. Society, while not exactly collapsing, was placed under the most incredible strain.

Why would anyone but a dogmatic fool crave that again?

And here’s the rub. We went to war in 1939 and suffered as we did to stop a Nazi invasion.  

Here in 2019 we have people in charge who want suffering just to prove a point.

A WORK colleague has a theory our phones are listening in to what we say.

He tested this by explaining to a friend over a pint – with the phone on the table – about how he had forgotten to buy dog food and would need to call into a shop on the way home. 

He’s never owned a dog yet, sure enough the next day, his social media feed had adverts on it for dog food.

Intrigued, I conducted my own experiment, telling a chum on a night out about my wish to visit Japan.

Two days later – nothing. No holiday ads had targeted me.

But then the same mate phoned to ask whether I’d had a look at the fashion website she’d told me about – did I want the details again? 

And then I realised. I didn’t need the details. It had been the first post in my Facebook feed that morning.

Coincidence or technological spying?  Either way it’s spooky.

PAUL McCartney has been awarded a gold Blue Peter badge for services to song-writing.

As someone who never got her hands on one – despite years of trying – I’m unimpressed. 

He might have written Eleanor Rigby but can he make a nice picture out of gluing bits of pasta to a piece of card?

Liverpool Echo

Brexit phoney war getting all too real

SITTING in a restaurant having a family meal, my son whipped out his insulin pen, dialled up a dose and injected. He didn’t break stride, regaling us as he did so about his plans to go to Leeds Festival and his opinion on the Reds’ chances of winning the Premiership.

We take it for granted now, this life-saving liquid that he shoves in his body and which, as a Type 1 diabetic, keeps him well.

He orders it at his pharmacy and then, a couple of days later, it arrives.

But what if it didn’t? What if there wasn’t enough to go round? Or there was a delay in delivery?

It doesn’t bear thinking about – and yet think about it we must.

Sir Michael Rawlins, chair of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said this week that in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit the supply of medicines such as insulin could be disrupted.

This is because it isn’t manufactured in the UK and transporting it is complicated. Stockpiling is already underway.

It won’t just be insulin, either.

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There must be lots of medication brought in from Europe as well as other medical supplies and devices.

The mere fact that this is being discussed is frightening enough. The idea that it might actually happen is beyond comprehension.

Until now, Brexit has been a far-off concept for many.

Two years ago when the country inexplicably decided to put two fingers up to the EU the perceived reality of what it would mean was, at best, vague and at worst horribly misguided.

But here in 2018 things are starting to crystalise. And it’s not a pretty picture.

Food may have to be stockpiled. Motorways will become ‘holding areas’ for trucks to ease the gridlock as 10,000 lorries a day are delayed by customs checks. The new world order will impact on aviation and driving licenses, sterling and passports. As for the 5 million EU and UK expats? Well, God knows.

Of course this might all be a phoney war, gamesmanship down there in Westminster among the no-dealers, the pro-Brexiteers, the Remainers.

For the rest of us, thought, it’s just plain terrifying.
“Oof,” said the current Mr Lee as he clambered between the sheets on our return from our week’s holiday. “There’s nothing like you’re own bed, is there?” I don’t know when this happened but I appear to be married to a middle-aged man.

This column first appeared in the Liverpool Echo on 4 August 2018.