I was in Barbados when the dog bit, when the bee stung. I was in paradise when the world turned to shit. But I couldn’t feel its glow, nor see its beauty. All I wanted to do was ring my mates, find the nearest old man’s pub and huddle over a Guinness like old times. I wanted it to be September already, and for the weather to be typically grim, typically British, you could say. But no, this was 1.30am Bajan time on Friday 24 June, the exotic sound of whistling tree frogs wafting through my beach-front veranda… Reading the news jetlagged, frightened and confused, I had never felt so alone. It was mighty surreal.
“We don’t live in the country we think we do” one friend wrote on my wall, and he was spot-on. Overnight everything had changed and I was to return to a country I no longer knew. I wondered what Gatwick’s guidelines were on those sobbing uncontrollably through passport control. Madam, you don’t look like this in your photograph! Brexit grief is real. It is because it feels so gut-wrenchingly familiar and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise. (If this ain’t grief, then why does it feel so bad?). I allow myself to forget for a bit and I go through the motions, pretending, but then I remember – and I remember all the other crap 2016 has thrown up thus far – from the death of Prince to the decapitated priest – and my heart sinks again, and so it goes on. We all know the drill.
But my little girl, who knows nothing of this stupid world, lives in a bubble of joy and it’s my job to keep it un-popped for as long as possible. Heck, I may even join her. “Can we watch The Sound of Music?” she pleads, totally out of the blue. I have no idea how she managed the leap from Charlie and Lola to Rodgers and Hammerstein, but I indulge her with a couple of clips on YouTube… And there it is: words of wisdom from Maria herself: Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… She’s right, you know. In times of crisis (international or otherwise), we do need to cling to our Favourite Things, more so than ever, because that’s all we can do. Good music, un-put-down-able literature, charity shop-shopping, ridiculous pub conversations, flicking through Vogue with a cup of black coffee on a Sunday morning, stupid-drunk karaoke sessions… All of it. It’s all medicine.
Yesterday I listened to The Smiths for the first time since Brexageddon and it felt like bloodletting. Don’t forget the songs that made you cry, and the songs that saved your life… Seems Morrissey, Maria von Trapp, and my five-year-old have the answers.
So, comrades, make sure you order that Sound of Music DVD for when President Trump pushes the button and we can all go down singing. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu…