I should have turned over and had just another six months in bed when David Bowie died back in January. It was not a good start and the year only went downhill from there. Since then, we’ve lost Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Frank Kelly, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Prince (artist formerly known as), Carla Lane, Muhammad Ali, Anton Yelchin, Caroline Aherne and Gene Wilder. And there’s still three months to go.
Then our idiot Prime Minister delivered what will surely go down in history as the biggest political fuck-up since Bonnie Prince Charlie chose Cullodden as a great place for a party with the English. It will take me a very long time indeed to forgive that utter plonker.
The scales have come down from my eyes, I guess. I used to think the English were nice people. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001, I boggled at the coverage coming out of the US. They know how great they are, do they? Well, the rest of the world sees you quite differently. I confess I felt a peculiar superiority knowing that, as a British person, I could see the US from the outside and know that their superiority was visible only through American eyes. I was smug in the knowledge that I was not like that. Wrong wrong wrong. The English are just as bad. In fact, we’re probably worse, because the US, at the very least, can back its smugness up with enormous political and military power. All we have is the memory of the slave trade and of Empire.
Long ago, when Britain was “Great” and ruled the waves, we explored the world. Not in search of culture and knowledge. No. We went all around the planet, killing the people we found there and enslaving them. And taking over their countries. And stealing their mineral wealth. And imposing rule from London. And exporting toffs to live there and look down their noses at the local cultures. Anything not English was savage; the only way to move away from savagery and towards civilisation was to become like the English. It’s a legacy that remains across much of the world. In the Caribbean, to have lighter skin tones confers a social advantage; in India, there is a thriving market in “beauty” products that lighten the skin. Because being brown is to be savage, of course.
This is our legacy.
And, stupid me, I thought we’d grown up. No. It seems that we’d just stopped listening to people. And when the PM decided to ask them, they spoke up, loud and clear.
It could still get worse, of course. The US could follow the UK in voting for a pack of lies, for bigotry dressed as patriotism. HM the Q might pop her clogs and Charlie 3 could ascend the throne. And Boris Johnson could assume his native form as a twelve-tentacled brain-eating slime monster from Vega VI. And the British government could decide to spy on every single one of its citizens every hour of every day.
What could possibly go wrong?
Please, God, make it stop. I’ve had it with 2016, and I want a rest.