So, it’s finally over – the referendum to settle Britain’s relationship with Europe forever. And, the turkeys have indeed voted in favour of Thanksgiving.
After a campaign based on racism and lies, we finally know that the whole thing was an utter waste of time and money and there are nothing but losers everywhere one turns. The UK is a huge loser – the value of the pound plummeted as the result became clear and we now face forever being on the outside looking in with no opportunity to engage with and make the European Union better for everyone. Cameron is certainly a loser (I almost wrote “tosser” there but that would be too rude). Having called the referendum to, as John Major described it when he was fighting with his Eurosceptics more than twenty years ago, to “lance the boil” of his European dissenters, he’s achieved the opposite and is now consigned to the dustbin of history. He will be remembered as the man who almost single-handedly destroyed the United Kingdom. Scotland will almost certainly demand a second independence referendum – during the last one a very persuasive argument deployed was that the only way Scotland could remain part of the EU was to stick with the United Kingdom. That particular lever has now been broken and the Scots will almost certainly vote to leave the UK this time.
The bitterness of the campaign and the relative narrowness of the result almost certainly mean that the issue will continue to rumble on and on and on as the UK seeks to negotiate the terms of its exit. It took Norway seven years to negotiate the terms of its relationship with the EU and one of the things the Norwegians had to accept was free movement of citizens in the EU – good luck with getting the “Outers” to accept that.
Ultimately, though, Britain is the biggest loser (and probably was destined to be no matter what the outcome turned out to be). The British have always been “reluctant” Europeans at best and now the rest of Europe can see without any doubt that they will be significantly better off when the British finally just piss off once and for all!
The Guardian had a good article on Thursday morning outlining how all this has come about and, in particular, highlighting Cameron’s numerous miscalculations.
And so, on to brighter topics – the final leg of our southern tour. We said goodbye to Ben and to the marvellous, windowless Pelham Hotel, New Orleans and set off toward Mobile, Alabama aiming to meander our way up to Montgomery for the night.
I hadn’t yet chosen a place to stay in or near Montgomery so we stopped at a tourist information office on the outskirts of Mobile where a very kind lady was overjoyed to see us. I don’t think they get too many customers and, when we said we were heading toward Montgomery she regaled us with her many wonderful visits to that fair city and leapt on the phone to find us a place for the night. Apparently it was graduation weekend and many places were full to bursting but she found us a room in a very pleasant hotel on the edge of town which was very convenient and marvellously good value. She also was very keen for us to know that this particular establishment would provide us with (a) three free drinks [each] before dinner, (b) free buffet style dinner and (c) free buffet style breakfast, all of which we enjoyed enormously. What could be better?
Regrettably, we didn’t have time to explore Montgomery and set off the next morning to make our way back to Atlanta via the scenic route through rural Alabama which proved to be a wonderfully relaxing and gorgeous drive. Much of it was through the Talladega National Forest and we were intrigued, as we drove through one isolated hamlet after another, by the number of churches in evidence. Every few miles we would pass through a cluster of houses, next to which there was almost always a church. And, as it happens, it was Mother’s Day and many of the churches had signs out the front wishing all their “Christian” mothers a pleasant day. Clearly there wasn’t any interest in wishing any non-Christian mothers in the vicinity any sort of pleasant day.
The rest of the drive back to Atlanta was largely uneventful and we arrived back at our friend Jordan’s home just in time to help him move all his garden furniture off his two decks in preparation for the power-washing cleanse which was due to commence the following morning. After those exertions, we ventured out for dinner and, after one false start (the Italian place Jordan had in mind was packed to the gunnels with families spoiling their mothers and the wait for a table was guesstimated to be about an hour), we ended up at the Iberian Pig, a tapas bar and restaurant where we consumed copious quantities of tasty bites and enjoyed several delicious cocktails. A delightful end to a fabulous tour.
Monday morning it was out to the airport and the flight back to Boston to spend the last few days of our holiday with my mother and two brothers. Sadly, the news from Ben about Donna’s illness meant a change of plans and on Wednesday we were back in Boston and then on a flight out to LA to do what we could to help Ben through those dark days. Now, more than a month later, it still seems astonishing that she’s gone.
I ran across the following time lapse in the Guardian the other day. I love time lapse sequences in general but I think it was the headline which first caught my eye – “Is this the most British summer’s day ever?” It’s a short time lapse from a London high rise (the Shard) on the summer solstice and shows the full gamut of typically British weather – pelting rain, wind and clouds – which finally, in the late evening, turned to clearer skies. Yep, that’s a fairly typical summer’s day.
You can almost imagine you’re here!
Much love to you all,