Well hello there! Hi, remember me? I started this blog and then life caught up with me. Yeah, yeah, I know… but could we hang out again? It has been a tough year and it would be great to talk…
So, 2016 was quite a year, was it not? Although I had previously agreed with those who said they could not wait for it to end and for 2017 to start, my opinion has started to reverse in the new, post-November 8 world. Put it down to a case of “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”. And yes, I use this particular epithet knowingly.
I started 2016 with such high hopes. We had a lovely, quiet little celebration at home. Raclette was eaten, champagne was drunk, fireworks were ignited, Berliners were consumed. A new year, full of promise had begun. And then, like some Biblical plague, all the actors, musicians, television/radio presenters with whom I had grown up and loved started to kick the bucket.
Bowie. Prince. Wogan. Rickman, Wood, and most recently, Cohen…to name but a few significant losses. Each day I started to dread hearing the news in case another one died. But in the meantime the UK held a referendum on membership of the European Union and America went to the Presidential polling booth…
Suddenly the spate of celebrity deaths took on less significance as the two countries I consider my own decided to commit political and social suicide. I am not going to get dragged back into the morass that are the pro/con debates on “Brexit” and the decision to elect Donald Trump as the next President of the USA. My opinions are clear to those who know me. I was very much anti-Brexit and every fibre of my being screams out in Democratic agony that such a buffoon, such a criminally misogynistic, racist, nationalist, gun-loving, nepotistic, political numbskull will be given free reign to destroy the US economy, up-end our increasingly tolerant society, and dial us back to the bad old days. And that he will not only be able to poison the US well, but those of other countries. Putin, Erdogan, Orban and every other fascist nut on this planet must be laughing in pure joy.
Life as we knew it is over. Next year is a gaping black hole, sucking us in and out of which who knows what will emerge. I feel extremely anxious. No one knows what the future holds, that is true, but never before have I felt so utterly unsure of the basic norms. Women voted for a man who admits to sexually assaulting women, rather than for a woman who has spent her life dedicated to protecting and furthering women’s rights. A country that has benefitted enormously from EU membership and money voluntarily chose to cut itself out of the EU and off from that source of funding without any clear plan on how to proceed. There is a housing crisis, the NHS is in crisis, food banks in the UK are feeding more families than ever before, whole communities who relied on EU grants and subsidies are now left wondering who is going to help them out now. I always thought of the British electorate as a pragmatic bunch, but now they have chosen to cut their nose off to spite their face.
But life goes inevitably on. The kids still have to be dug out of their beds each morning and then begged to go back into them each evening. Work is what it is. Dear Husband continues to travel Europe on a near weekly basis. Life is lived.
But will it continue this way? Will my daughter have all the same or even more opportunities than I enjoyed, or will she come of age in a society where her options are limited by a reinforced glass ceiling and sexism is once again entirely permissible? Will my sons be taught by society and politics that they no longer have to be accountable for their actions as men? That women are objects put on earth solely to do their bidding? Are we heading back to the Middle Ages?
Well, if this hellscape comes to pass, I can assure anyone out there that we will raise our children with the same values with which I and my husband were raised. Actions are accountable. Respect is paramount. Diversity is to be celebrated. Women are equal to men. Racism is wrong. They will know to walk in the other persons shoes before passing any judgment. For I cling to the age-old glimmer of hope contained in the words, “this too shall pass.”
This too shall pass.