The Best of the British Bulldog

I am just back from a few days in Belfast. We stayed in a great apartment overlooking the Lagan and wandered around the city centre on the first afternoon. I’ve always liked Belfast, it chimes for me of Northern England: messy, incoherent streets with the occasional wow factor in buildings, like the Opera House and City Hall. During this particular meander, the city was stuffed with tourists wandering around, turning maps upside down, stopping on street corners. Streets seemed to be cleaner, buildings shinier. The city seemed to be prosperous, booming, none of the jaded, bombed out fatigue of the past.

The next day we walked along the river walk – through the old Docks, littered with art, artefacts, tourism trails, old ships, the magnificent Water Front, the Arena and finally arrived at The Titanic, itself an extraordinary building. It rises up from the Harland & Woolf Dock, a silver, concertina like structure, solid, assertive but also looking like it might fold into nothing. It was humming with people and taking the tour, I felt part of a well-oiled machine. I was impressed. I learned a lot about ship building; the gantry, rivets, and Belfast, itself a hub of industrialisation at the turn of the 20th century. I learned about the Belfast Ropework Company, the biggest and best in the world, the linen factories, the glass factories, the breweries. We traversed the experience of working the gantry in a rail car, rattling up and down, through heights and depths, screens of men drilling, banging, balancing, hammering, welding, made me aware for the first time of the dangers, the skills, the courage and the pride of the ship builders. The exhibition showed me the real story of the Titanic from its planning, drawing, manufacture, it’s fitting out with the best of everything: luxurious Axminster carpets, mahogany, oak, brass, gold, furnishings of the highest quality, chandeliers, four poster beds, porcelain basins, menus including potted shrimp, veal, corned beef, ox tongue, soused herrings, galantine of chicken, custard pudding. And then, after all this magnificent build up, it was gone in a flash, very appropriate. All that I saw next was a gin bottle and a china plate floating in the debris field at the bottom of the ocean.

titaniv

When I was driving home, I was thinking about what it must have been like to work on the gantry. The men would have to be skilled, courageous and have their wits about them to be working thousands of feet in the air with heavy tools and no safety provision in the elemental hazards of wind, rain, cloud, sun and no protection. So different to the miners crawling along dark, dank, dirty shafts. Both trades involved such dangerous work yet men were paid a pittance and many lives were taken. It is a warped world we live in.  I couldn’t do either, and I don’t think many could nowadays.  But in a sense, at least the ship builders must have felt the power and glory of working in the sky and creating something so extraordinary.

The reason I was in Belfast was poetry. I attended a poetry event at the Eastside Arts Festival, an event co-organised with Over The Edge, Eastside Arts Centre and Poetry Northern Ireland. To get there, and later to the hotel where our friends, Over The Edge facilitators, Susan and Kevin, were staying, we walked through close knitted, two storey, red bricked terraced streets of houses hung together with pennants and union jacks, conjoined with streams of bunting fluttering over gardens. On many corners were murals of militia, firearms, words of freedom and unity were painted with precision on walls.  Suffocating defensiveness or claustrophobia were the words that muraled my mind.

The event itself was wonderful. Poems flowed. The open mic wound around the room while people shared poems that reflected on love, division, equality, nature, silence, uncertainty, violence, change. I felt privileged to be able to contribute. The East Side Visitors Centre has been open a year. It is light airy, a café and exhibition space and the people are warm and friendly. It overlooks a skate boarding park which also celebrates CS Lewis and Aslan, the lion, stands proud in bronze. While waiting for the poetry begin, I watched two British Bulldogs skating on boards with great skill and panache, three legs balancing while the fourth leg pushed. I felt privileged to be British, yes, but happy to be living in Ireland.

british bull dog

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Bird Watching in Galway

I joined the Club of the Unloved last Saturday and can highly recommend the experience. It split me up and blew me away. It was set in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway – a city last weekend thronging with arts festivities and sunshine – a heady combination.

The show, ‘Tristan and Yseult’, was a pizza of a performance: a high dough of olives, cheese, anchovies, squashed tomatoes, capers, magic mushroom, sprinkled with pepper and cumin seeds. The taste of drama, dance, humour was set to a music mix of Wagner, Daft Punk and Roy Orbison. What delectable joy. It all combined to make my tongue sizzle and hang out. It was performed by a Cornwall based company, Highknee, that, to quote the brochure, ‘creates vigorous, popular and challenging theatre and performs with joyful activity.’ The set was clever and the story was staged in the Club of the Unloved where all the characters were dressed at some point in the garb of bird watchers with binoculars. Kneehigh regaled the epic story with flare, arrow points, and a spirit that made me laugh and cry. It was theatre at its best.

Following the matinée, the good humour continued as we weaved our way through Galway’s lanes and found our own perch to watch a different performance: that of Quay Street on a summer Saturday night of sun. The ever-flowing river of pale, usually tired, sometimes happy, often gormless, occasionally angry faces make me ‘wonder’ and create my own stories. I once wrote a short story about the flow of the Galway lanes where the ‘flow’ was employed and controlled by Galway City Council.

The ‘flow’ of the weekend continued over wine, tapenade and crisps with friends. It was a heady mix of poetics and politics which always puts me in a good mood, particularly when nesting with poets who are also political egg heads.

The final egg head event of the weekend took place, appropriately enough, at the University with Colm Tóibín and Catriona Perry (the Irish Times Washington Correspondent) discussing the ‘Impact of Power.’ Colm Tóibín who, (to continue the bird watching theme), reminds me of peacock and a humming bird combined, was good. He wove a story around Trump that illustrated chaos, controversy, and anarchy with a strong (to continue the theme of flow) under-current of fear. He created for me a creature true to the American myth of the self-made man of the American dream now morphed into a dastardly but truly unpleasant cartoon character inserted in a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions. It was entertaining. Colm Tóibín is lovely to watch: his rubbery, egghead face rumples and contorts with intelligence, his hands gesticulate with flourish and his words whistle and flow. This time he outshone his co-conversationalist who was rather disappointing, with no original insights. She reminded me (six inch heels, slender legs) of a stork on its way to an abortion clinic. It must be the suggestion of Armageddon that Trump inspires.

All in all, a great weekend.

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Happy in the Hinterland

Last Friday, we drove the grey of the N3 into the wind and rain of the Irish Hinterland. Spires and ancient round towers arose out of Kell’s magical mists and I soon found myself installed in a front row pew in the church of Ireland, seeking adventures along a silk road.

Peter Frankopan took his place at the altar in a stylish blue (silk?) suit, and transported me East to the magic lands of Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Tibet. Waving his hands, his undulating Notting Hill/Oxford tones created a wonderful discourse, flowing with passion and interest. It seems my history has been mired in Western war fare, in crusades, in squalid sallies, in colonial battles, world wars, and King Henry’s wives instead of in the rise and fall of Mesopotamia, of Byzantine culture, of Persia, the truly great civilisations of our world, arising from the glitter and glory of the trading routes of the Silk Roads.   Compared to the glory of Sultans, Pharoahs, Ayatollahs, the people of Western Europe were little more than slaves (apparently the only thing of trading value). We had no riches, no spices, little in the line of the black stuff, not much in the way of sought after natural resources; somehow, though, we managed to convince ourselves, and others, that we were the centrifugal force of  history (obviously we had the gift of the gab, and those spears and poleaxes probably helped) while actually the original power and glory was invested in the riches of the East, now on the rise again. Note China’s new ports, gas pipes, and its railways being laid across Africa.  So, after 500 years, the balance is finally being redressed and the current conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Pakistan are mere birthing pains for a new era (unless the West has a tantrum and starts throwing its upgraded boy toys around in pique).

It was, truly, an invigorating presentation, providing a different perspective, sparkling with brilliance. Peter Frankopan was wonderful to watch (you can see why from the photo below), and his sales pitch was fabulous. He must have been practising on those Silk Roads. I bought the book.

In contrast, the historian, Turtle Bunbury stumbled about the church  while he told us how ‘1847’ had presented itself to him as ‘the year’ to write about. It had been the year the plans for his ancestral home castle were drawn up, the year the famine had got going (he didn’t comment on the structural relationship between the two), the year the Bronte sisters had been published, the year the USA conquered California. This was reason enough for an hour of stories about Black Ben Forbes (?) and Tom Thumb who apparently graced 1847 with their presence. Interesting? No. The historian, John Bowen was much more sober and erudite in his presentation of the ‘Autobiography of Ireland’ which is a collection of original sources: amusing letters, articles reflecting the hundred years after the Rising.

I was looking forward to the Brexit Debate on Saturday morning – Chris Mullins, David Murphy and Mairead McGuinness and was very, very disappointed. It was lack-lustre, un-engaged, uninformed, smug, and comprised an indifferent discussion. Chris Mullins performed like an oil painted portrait with a withering smile, (like one of those spectral portraits in Hogwarts, just not as interesting); Mairead McGuinness glittered with EU self-adoration, and David Murphy manufactured the statistics to suit himself. They bored me, and I felt sad at their lack of spirit, humour and passion.

Thank God, passion was not lacking thereafter. Ed Thomas, director of The Hinterland (a Welsh detective series on Netflix) was fascinating. He was a friendly, bubbly character, but clearly with a dark side. Hinterland is a slow, beautiful but rather grim portrayal of the Welsh countryside. It reflects isolation and is very bleak. He was well interviewed by Georgina Godwin who also later did a great interview with Stephen Frears. The first thing Ed Thomas said was that most of his work was autobiographical and that Wales was a ‘laughing stock’ and a country that didn’t really exist.  He described how being Welsh in the late eighties and nineties was akin to being invisible. He left, changed his accent, pretended to be Irish, or a loud South London lout. I was taken aback. My mother is from a South Wales mining town. In my mind, Wales was a small, beautiful country, the home of a strong, vibrant people who sang, worked and evolved a strong chartist, social spirit. It is clear that in the late 70s and 80s, the closure of the mines, the shutting down of a community, the abandonment of a people laid waste to a wonderful country. Ed recently had to sell his home place of a 130 years. He told us his daughter didn’t know what a miner was. What a sad indictment of a British Government that cruelly turned its back on its working people. An excellent interview which was followed by a second excellent interview with Stephen Frears (photo below)

At first, I thought Georgina Godwin (photo below) was going to have a difficult interview. Frears (who has directed The Snapper, The Van, My Beautiful Laundrette, Philomena, The Queen amongst others) answered her questions in short sentences with brevity. He faced out to the audience and seemed to find it hard to turn his head to look at her when she asked her questions. But she handled him very well. She always had another question ready when he didn’t seem disposed to answer the previous one. She was well prepared, incisive and confident.

Frears was laconic, dry and humorous. Classic Brit. He reminded me of a dragon, lurking in his lair, watching with glittering eyes, a grim smile and high intellect. He told us how fortunate he was. He was a child of a time. He had a golden letter box through which, over the years, amazing scripts were posted. He was self-deprecating in a humorous way which showed us how brilliant he was. The 1960s to 1990s were certainly the golden era for film and theatre. Shane Connaughton whom we had seen in The Town Hall, in Cavan the previous Thursday (interviewed by Philip Doherty) had said something similar. Shane had been in the right place at the right time. I asked both Shane Connaughton and Stephen Frears how much politics had contributed to their success. Both responded positively. The hope and optimism, the belief in humanity, the resources, the investment in the arts, and people had helped them create and become great artists. This is the reason the Brits need a new Government. Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!

 

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Happy in the Hinterland Last Weekend

Last Friday, we drove the grey of the N3 into the wind and rain of the Irish Hinterland. Spires and ancient round towers arose out of Kell’s magical mists and I soon found myself installed in a front row pew in the church of Ireland, seeking adventures along a silk road.

Peter Frankopan took his place at the altar in a stylish blue (silk?) suit, and transported me East to the magic lands of Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Tibet. Waving his hands, his undulating Notting Hill/Oxford tones created a wonderful discourse, flowing with passion and interest. It seems my history has been mired in Western war fare, in crusades, in squalid sallies, in colonial battles, world wars, and King Henry’s wives instead of in the rise and fall of Mesopotamia, of Byzantine culture, of Persia, the truly great civilisations of our world, arising from the glitter and glory of the trading routes of the Silk Roads.   Compared to the glory of Sultans, Pharoahs, Ayatollahs, the people of Western Europe were little more than slaves (apparently the only thing of trading value). We had no riches, no spices, little in the line of the black stuff, not much in the way of sought after natural resources; somehow, though, we managed to convince ourselves, and others, that we were the centrifugal force of  history (obviously we had the gift of the gab, and those spears and poleaxes probably helped) while actually the original power and glory was invested in the riches of the East, now on the rise again. Note China’s new ports, gas pipes, and its railways being laid across Africa.  So, after 500 years, the balance is finally being redressed and the current conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Pakistan are mere birthing pains for a new era (unless the West has a tantrum and starts throwing its upgraded boy toys around in pique).

It was, truly, an invigorating presentation, providing a different perspective, sparkling with brilliance. Peter Frankopan was wonderful to watch (you can see why from the photo below), and his sales pitch was fabulous. He must have been practising on those Silk Roads. I bought the book.

In contrast, the historian, Turtle Bunbury stumbled about the church  while he told us how ‘1847’ had presented itself to him as ‘the year’ to write about. It had been the year the plans for his ancestral home castle were drawn up, the year the famine had got going (he didn’t comment on the structural relationship between the two), the year the Bronte sisters had been published, the year the USA conquered California. This was reason enough for an hour of stories about Black Ben Forbes (?) and Tom Thumb who apparently graced 1847 with their presence. Interesting? No. The historian, John Bowen was much more sober and erudite in his presentation of the ‘Autobiography of Ireland’ which is a collection of original sources: amusing letters, articles reflecting the hundred years after the Rising.

I was looking forward to the Brexit Debate on Saturday morning – Chris Mullins, David Murphy and Mairead McGuinness and was very, very disappointed. It was lack-lustre, un-engaged, uninformed, smug, and comprised an indifferent discussion. Chris Mullins performed like an oil painted portrait with a withering smile, (like one of those spectral portraits in Hogwarts, just not as interesting); Mairead McGuinness glittered with EU self-adoration, and David Murphy manufactured the statistics to suit himself. They bored me, and I felt sad at their lack of spirit, humour and passion.

Thank God, passion was not lacking thereafter. Ed Thomas, director of The Hinterland (a Welsh detective series on Netflix) was fascinating. He was a friendly, bubbly character, but clearly with a dark side. Hinterland is a slow, beautiful but rather grim portrayal of the Welsh countryside. It reflects isolation and is very bleak. He was well interviewed by Georgina Godwin who also later did a great interview with Stephen Frears. The first thing Ed Thomas said was that most of his work was autobiographical and that Wales was a ‘laughing stock’ and a country that didn’t really exist.  He described how being Welsh in the late eighties and nineties was akin to being invisible. He left, changed his accent, pretended to be Irish, or a loud South London lout. I was taken aback. My mother is from a South Wales mining town. In my mind, Wales was a small, beautiful country, the home of a strong, vibrant people who sang, worked and evolved a strong chartist, social spirit. It is clear that in the late 70s and 80s, the closure of the mines, the shutting down of a community, the abandonment of a people laid waste to a wonderful country. Ed recently had to sell his home place of a 130 years. He told us his daughter didn’t know what a miner was. What a sad indictment of a British Government that cruelly turned its back on its working people. An excellent interview which was followed by a second excellent interview with Stephen Frears (photo below)

At first, I thought Georgina Godwin (photo below) was going to have a difficult interview. Frears (who has directed The Snapper, The Van, My Beautiful Laundrette, Philomena, The Queen amongst others) answered her questions in short sentences with brevity. He faced out to the audience and seemed to find it hard to turn his head to look at her when she asked her questions. But she handled him very well. She always had another question ready when he didn’t seem disposed to answer the previous one. She was well prepared, incisive and confident.

Frears was laconic, dry and humorous. Classic Brit. He reminded me of a dragon, lurking in his lair, watching with glittering eyes, a grim smile and high intellect. He told us how fortunate he was. He was a child of a time. He had a golden letter box through which, over the years, amazing scripts were posted. He was self-deprecating in a humorous way which showed us how brilliant he was. The 1960s to 1990s were certainly the golden era for film and theatre. Shane Connaughton whom we had seen in The Town Hall, in Cavan the previous Thursday (interviewed by Philip Doherty) had said something similar. Shane had been in the right place at the right time. I asked both Shane Connaughton and Stephen Frears how much politics had contributed to their success. Both responded positively. The hope and optimism, the belief in humanity, the resources, the investment in the arts, and people had helped them create and become great artists. This is the reason the Brits need a new Government. Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!

 

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Bordering on Insanity

I am reading ‘This is not a Border – Reportage and Reflections from the Palestinian Festival of Literature,’ edited by Ahdaf Soueif and Omar Robert Hamilton, published by Bloomsbury.

It is a brilliant collection of small anecdotal experiences of writers (of many different nationalities) who have taken part in the Palestinian Festival of Writing since 2008. They describe the raw brutality and power that Israeli soldiers wield at Israeli constructed checkpoints around Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the grim poverty and indignity enforced on the Palestinian people living in Gaza, and the West Bank towns of Ramallagh and Hebron.

As I read, my stomach sinks. I feel my intestine stiffen into tangles. My gut rises into my throat. My chest tightens, a rage rises. I try to read out loud and my voice thickens. My mouth contorts. My throat constricts. Angry, salt tears need to be wiped away.

These are not stories. They are simple accounts of what people experienced as they crossed border points, walked under nets that don’t protect Palestinians from the excrement and rubbish of the settlers living above. There is no running commentary, there is no purple prose, but there is embarrassment, shock and horror in the voices of these accounts.

I am so enraged. I feel so frustrated, so shocked, humiliated and dismayed by what I read. I can only read a few accounts at one time. Why, I wonder? Intellectually, I know all this, and more. I know about poverty. I know about war crimes. I know about concentration camps. I know about torture. My father worked for Amnesty International for 25 years. I know about cruelty. I know about abuse. I know about power. And yet this book about the brutality and cruelty of Israel leaves me shaking. I don’t understand why this is. These simple accounts describe life as lived every day by people in a way the news stories of rockets and wars don’t. They expose the raw and naked brutality of the human race. This dystopian life style is happening now and I worry that it will be the force of our future. This frightens me. I don’t know what to do. Please read this book and advise me.

I should say: I haven’t finished the book yet. I just needed to voice this.

 

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S’Truth! It All Happened in the Ballroom

The family began the Carlow Festival of Writing and Ideas in Dublin, at a noodle house (where my delicious sounding shredded beef turned out to be a mountain of mince) and continued in the Rag Trader pub expounding the delights of the British Election, Brexit, and block chain technology (after five pints I thought I had grasped the concept of block chain technology, but later discovered I hadn’t). It was only early Sunday morning before we got on the M9 to Borris House, the ancestral home of the McMorrows Kavanaghs (High Kings of Leinster, I’ll have you know). So, we arrived a day late in an Irish squall, a little the worse for wear, and found ourselves, rather under dressed,  in the grand grounds of a castle, complete with a chapel, granary,  ball room  standing among Anglo Saxon looking middle aged ladies and gentleman, wandering around clasping books and umbrellas.

We acclimatised ourselves in the bar (with a coffee) and retired to the ballroom to listen to Dominic West (McNulty in The Wire) talk to The Wire’s director and producer, David Simon. Dominic West’s open face and smile was an immediate winner (my daughter was extremely embarrassed at my gasp and drool) but their discussion and banter was amusing and endearing. It was fascinating to listen to how David Simon had planned the arc of The Wire over five years. Each series exposes how the life of an individual human being is shown to have less and less value and is considered more and more in terms of a unit of cost – whatever field you operate in; drugs, local government, education, politics. Both he and Dom (yes, Dom now, air kiss, cheeks, smile) were adorable and I wanted to marry both (for different reasons).

After a little more standing about in windswept rain, with paper coffee, feeling like drenched imposters, we went to listen to Fintan O’Toole talk to Margaret McMillan (historian) about the first world war. Sometimes I find Fintan O’Toole too erudite and other times too smug and arrogant, and I didn’t know Margaret McMillan’s work, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I emerged from The Granary fuming. After rather inane discussions as to when WW1 ended, internationalism, The Depression, betrayal, they moved on to discuss Brexit and the UK election. Ms McMillan declared she didn’t know how an allotment keeper (referring to Jeremy Corbyn) would handle Brexit negotiations! They discussed the lack of an ‘English’ identity which is odd since, in my experience of living here, I have found the Irish to have very strong views about the ‘English’ identity, and finally pronounced on their dislike of and limitations of popular protest groups. I thought she and Fintan were well suited. They could marry each other, I decided, and flounced off to the ballroom.

In the aforementioned ballroom,  Sebastian Barry was being interviewed by Max Porter. SB was wonderful. He wowed us all with a magnificent performance, reading one of the civil war battles as described by Thomas, his narrator in Days Without End. It was magnificent: hoarse, throaty, desperate, frantic. He captured the ‘lurching wild gallop of human creatures.’ SB described the book as a father’s book because it was written with the love of a father for his son; a son who is gay and who showed him how love for a person of the same gender was magic, delicate and encapsulating. The book is one of the best books I have ever read of Sebastian Barry’s and I have read them all. Indeed, it is one of the best books I have ever read. The language and breath belongs to the land and words belong to his characters. For me, the author was invisible. I could only hear Thomas. How brilliant is that? So, it was very embarrassing when I asked him about Birdsong, the only other book that has done that for me!! He laughed, and said he loved me…(why was he telling me that, I wondered), that it was a question he got asked a lot, and reminded me that Birdsong was written by Sebastian Faulkes! OMG! I knew that. I did! I have read all his books too. I blame the fifth pint! I got out of there quickly as I could, though I have to say, suddenly everyone wanted to talk with me, and people were patting my shoulder and smiling but, then I realised I had to turn around and push my way back in because ‘the giants’, as described in the brochure, Jeffrey Eugenides, Colm Tóibín and Richard Ford were back in the ballroom. But, SB said he loved me! I would marry him.

Gentle giants, they were, or maybe I felt that because I was still in recovery and couldn’t absorb their words. My notes show they talked about writing about the home place, how the words would come easier because they knew the hinterland and the weather (CT seemed a little hung up on the weather). There was a discussion about the difference between memoir and fiction.  My notes show that Richard Ford was saying that truth was told through the agency of fact. In fiction, the word becomes true. In memoir, the word needs to be true. JE talked about fictionalising fact, and CT talked, and talked about all sorts of things. I got a little confused but didn’t feel the need to pop any question.

Anyway, I it was a great festival, despite the rain, the hang over, the embarrassment and well worth the entry fee. Next year, I’ll try not to get sidelined by Dublin on the Saturday.

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A Pep in My Step

So, the British election merged with the visit of another two of my oldest friends (it’s the year for old friends). Back in the day, we used to have rollicking, alcohol fuelled rows about Arthur Scargill and the miner’s strike, me and Ellen in particular. As the years rolled on, and politics and passion faded, we found ourselves focusing our alcohol fuelled rows on more benign events: should you wrap tin foil around a roasting lamb. This time, the third member of our trio, Lesley, refused to come unless we promised not to row which we duly did (promise, that is). Anyway, it was pure luck that Teresa May snapped the election for 8th June when they were here. I emailed that it would be great to be together for such a momentous occasion, a Labour win. Ellen emailed back saying yes, there couldn’t possibly be any rows because we are both Labour supporters, and that a harmonious evening could be anticipated, though obviously Labour wouldn’t win. Lesley emailed back a warning. Anyway, we were very good and there were no rows though, just before Ellen left, I did say that I had found not rowing not hard at all, and that, obviously, all these years it must have been her who had provoked the arguments. Fortunately, Lesley had left.

So, no rows, but lots of clapping, and shouts as Labour candidates got elected. We were betting and wearing home made rosettes. The exit poll was a good start, and in my heart of hearts, I felt it could be good (but, in keeping with my promise, didn’t say anything). As a result, I haven’t laughed so much since…probably 1984. Tears came to my eyes, my head rolled back and my feet were kicking off as we split our sides laughing at…everything…mainly each other. And, on top of this, Labour party candidates kept winning. But now my old friends have gone, and the election is over, I feel a little anti climatic, but I am still holding on to the bubbling of joy in my stomach because it is the beginning of something new, led by Jeremy Corbyn.

During the campaign, the mask of Theresa May slipped. She reminded me of the emperor in his new clothes: course, vain, a revelation of ignorance and hubris. This morning she was struggling to get it back in place, with the help of pancake mix and the DUP. I give it three months, if that. I hope the Labour Party will use those summer months wisely: crossing the ‘I’s and ‘t’s of free university education, good social care, investing in public services and homes so that those Labour candidates who just fell short of majorities can parade in an autumn campaign and win. Jeremy Corbyn is a natural campaigner – let’s build to his strengths. Let’s allow him to lead us, as one, to a fair and just Labour British government, supported by real people.

Brexit will happen but at least it will no longer be Theresa May’s cooking pot alone. It will involve detailed and careful preparation of a range of dishes, hopefully from a range of chefs (though they don’t have to be in the kitchen at the same time). Brexit belongs to us. We should all be involved in the preparation.

Okay, it wasn’t a Labour win and Parliament may be hung. It may appear confused presently. But, if I have learned anything after years of growing up, a little time is a good thing. A great campaigner is a wonderful thing, coming together to create a future which works for everybody is the best thing of all…and, to use Lesley, Ellen and myself as an example, can be achieved through a little silence and a lot of laughter.

So, I feel a pep in my step. I’m looking forward to next Autumn and another campaign, led by Jeremy Corbyn. I’m already planning my election party. Everyone is welcome but come ready to roar and guffaw having already put in the foot work on the door steps, and made peace.

kate garden

 

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