In the ‘real world’ there is a man called James who looks a lot like me and who some people might describe as reasonably intelligent. He even has a real job and some very real responsibilities.
And that man can create the impression that he knows about stuff like politics. He can hold conversations with other reasonably intelligent people about current affairs and no-one would imagine that he is mostly regurgitating soundbites that he heard on Radio 4 on his drive into work. And few would deduce that he only listens to Radio 4 to paper over the cracks of his ever-depleting understanding of just what is going on in the world.
To be fair, he did once have a solid enough grasp on things. He had a worldview that was underpinned by a moderate level of education, an occasional glance at the more left-wing broadsheets and a circle of pseudo intellectual friends who spouted the same kind of well-meaning liberal postulations that he did.
In his younger days you might even have described him as an idealist. Driven by a misplaced righteous anger, he wanted to make the world a better place. But to be fair, he also wanted to get drunk so beyond a few inebriated debates in the pub, he never really did anything to actually make the world a better place. But he meant to get around to it one day.
As he grew older, he became more moderate in his views. He was still fairly left-wing in principle, but more pragmatic and certainly less angry.
Then Brexit happened and he realised that actually he was both quite annoyed and worried about that.
But then it just went on and on and on and on and actually, even though he was still quite irritated by the whole thing, he was also a bit bored by it.
Then he became a father for the first time and forgot there was actually anything else happening in the world beyond his daughter.
But Brexit was sort of still happening. But it also wasn’t happening. And people seemed to still be getting excited about it and angry about it, often at the same time. And some people thought it could still be stopped, and maybe it could be, but the people who tried to stop it were quite bad at convincing people that it needed to be stopped. And the people who wanted it to happen were also quite bad at making it happen because none of them could agree on what it actually was. The only thing they agreed on was that it was the will of the people. And they were wrong about that too, because it was really only ever the will of some people.
And then there was an election. But that was nothing new because there had been a lot of those. But this election meant that the people who really wanted Brexit to happen could actually claim to have some kind of mandate. But really, they only got that mandate because the people who didn’t want Brexit to happen were largely incompetent and couldn’t get anyone to vote for them. Not even the people who mostly agreed with them.
And so, this week Brexit will finally happen. And the people who really don’t want it to happen will all sigh and feel a bit sad but know there’s really nothing that they can do to prevent it.
And those that want it to happen will moan because they think everyone should be celebrating and will be annoyed that some people won’t be. And they’ll be especially annoyed that Big Ben won’t be bonging, even though, due to ongoing repairs it was always logistically unlikely to happen.
And even though people are claiming that Brexit is now done it obviously isn’t. So, it will still be in the news all the time and people will still be talking about it and the division that it has caused will continue and no-one is really going to be happy.
And although the UK will cease to be part of the EU officially this week, nothing much is actually going to change until the end of the year.
And though January is nearly over it is still really the beginning of the year. So the year ahead seems like it will be quite an unpleasant affair all around.
And even at the end of the year there’s no guarantee that anything will really have been sorted out.
And as James ponders this all with a grim resignation but also a kind of pathetic apathy, his eye turns to his 18-month old daughter who is currently sifting through an old photo album in which there are numerous pictures of him from back in the days when he could still afford to go on holiday.
And as she gleefully points out, time and again in her newly acquired vernacular, “that’s my daddy!” he ponders the irony that she is ignoring the very real presence of her daddy in the room in favour of these 2D images of his younger self.
But, he reflects, though the politics of today might mean that the tomorrow his daughter will know might have tougher challenges than perhaps it should, her very existence means that, in his own way, he has contributed to making the world a better place after all.