What has happened to my ‘Great’ Britain, my ‘United’ Kingdom? Last Thursday, over thirty million people voted in the EU referendum, out of which 52% voted to leave, 48% to stay. In Brexit’s thunderous wake, I, like millions of others, woke up on Friday morning in shock asking, ‘WTF just happened to our country?’
The fallout I feared kicked in immediately. Accusations of misinformation and misleading facts (lies?) now fly thick and fast. Some are left wondering why those who made promises about pouring millions of pounds back into the NHS now avert their eyes away from their voters straight back down to the bottom of a beer glass.
If some used their vote as a protest against ‘Just Call Me Dave’ and his broken promises, they got more than they bargained for: Yes, our Prime Minister failed us, but this wasn’t a general election and he got more than a black eye. He is crippled.
Our country is in leadership free-fall. Who will stand in the gap with the experience as Prime Minister to do what is right to put our nation back on its feet, to negotiate with the EU which is desperate to get us the hell out, now that Vote Leave has spoken?
Maybe I’m missing something but last time I looked, there was no sign of Winston Churchill and our finest hour is nothing but a distant memory.
And what of the great divide ripping apart my Beloved Broken Britain
across the generations?
I know what it’s like to live in a foreign country; I lived in America for almost twenty years and raised my three children there. I was welcomed into my new home, but I wasn’t a citizen so I couldn’t vote.
But the issues presented over the years mattered strongly to me, and I made sure that I understood what was at stake so at least I could talk about them with my friends and children as they grew up.
And one of the greatest gifts I’ve been able to give each of my now adult children is dual British and American Citizenship. They have choices.
And of course, they always had free movement across Europe. But since Brexit, the generation gap, if embittered before, is now a stinking, gaping wound with our adult children feeling betrayed by their parents and grandparents who, they believe, have destroyed their future by voting Leave.
Figures from this YouGov poll show the huge voting disparity between the generations:
18-24: 75% remain
25-49: 56% remain
50-64: 44% remain
65+: 39% remain
The Guardian’s online article quotes:
“I’m so angry,” wrote one Twitter user. “A generation given everything: free education, golden pensions, social mobility, have voted to strip my generation’s future.” Another statement, from a commenter on the Financial Times website that has been widely shared, summed up the sense of furious betrayal among the young: “The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of its predecessors.”
I feel their pain. I feel my children’s pain. This is why I voted Remain, to stand in solidarity with my children. But things are not what they seem when looking at statistics.
Although a whopping seventy-five percent of 18-24 year olds voted to remain, it is estimated that only thirty-six percent of that age group actually voted.
Because I didn’t have the vote for almost twenty years, I rammed down my children’s throats the vital importance of what it means to have the privilege – not the right – to vote, and that they must always, always use it. I’m proud of my children for voting.
Every vote counts, each one. Otherwise our voice is just a whisper in the wind.
But what of my generation, the baby boomers who apparently have it all? What of our voice?
Not all of us can take early retirement with golden hand-shake pensions, houses paid for and travel at will. Some of us in our mid-fifties missed that boat as we face many more years of hard graft, mortgages to pay and a cosy retirement disappearing as fast as our nest egg, if we ever had one at all.
And some of have elderly parents to look after with adult children still living at home, some with physical and/or mental disabilities. We work hard as unpaid carers, advocating and supporting our loved ones as they navigate a depleted NHS under severe strain thanks to government cutbacks.
We do the best we can to give our children the best we can, helping them financially, looking after grandchildren and guiding them through life crises. We do it because we love them. Just like our parents loved us. And all the while hoping to God our health holds out in the years to come so that by the time we reach our so-called ‘golden years’, we won’t be too knackered to enjoy what’s left of them.
We are the Sandwich Generation and we are silent.
Finger-pointing and blame, whatever our generation, whichever way we voted, or look like or where we come from, is destructive and dangerous. I worry about the contagion of this ‘Brexit effect’ and the bitterness and anger and the appalling racism arising out ot it. We need to pull together more than ever at a time like this.
Can Britain be Great again? What of our England? And trust me, I am not taling about the football here…
On a lighter note, I have discovered that since I had an Irish grandmother, I am eligible for an Irish passport. Not sure how that affects hubby or my children, but at least there is a glimmer of hope if things go completely tits-up here. Funny, I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland…
I didn’t want to write about such a heavy subject. This post was supposed to be about my generation, but only because I wanted to join in with Irene’s Time’s Past Challenge, ‘Reflection on Favourite Childhood Meals‘.
I planned to tell you that growing up in a village in Surrey, then Suffolk in British 60s and 70s, I wondered if my memories of meal times might be more unusual than most.
For one thing, I remember my mother making lasagna for us, but when I told my friends at school the next day (we liked to swap mealtime stories for some reason), none of them knew what lasagna was. This would have been the mid 1970s, around the time Britain joined the European Economic Community as it was then called. No irony there then.
I wanted to tell you that my tastes were typically British – favourites were roast lunches on Sunday, usually chicken, sometimes beef as a treat with Yorkshire pudding, Shepherd’s Pie or stews and casseroles. I was wary of anything more adventurous.
This I blamed on being scared out of my wits one afternoon by the sight of a pheasant hanging by its green, scaly feet from the cloakroom (bathroom) ceiling as black, thick blood slowly dripped from its beak into a bucket. Dinner, thanks to a gift from a friendly farmer who no doubt fancied my mother. Or maybe it was road kill? I can’t remember.
But I do remember refusing to eat it when Mum presented it on the table as a casserole. I couldn’t bear the thought.
And then I wanted to update you about my daughter’s (Aspie D) Chinese Button Quails who are now living outside in an aviary, very happy in their new home I’m pleased to say.
But sadly, poor Raisin (Mooncake’s (the only male) second wife) died. Now we have five, all healthy and happy, but raising button quails is a delicate task, one Aspie D takes very seriously.
Some of you may remember this photo of the darling chicks from last year:
Here is one of them now, all grown up (which happened within a couple of weeks
of the above photo!) ~
We have a personal battle: Aspie D’s care-coordinator from the Asperger Specialist Team has handed in his notice and is leaving with no replacement (cut backs in mental health are dire). We are back to where we started three years ago with the search for proper support while she makes her way in life. And she will find her way. I know it. But the next few months will be tricky for many reasons.
And then, as ever, there is the memoir. I’ve hit a wall and I can’t seem to punch my way through…
So what to do? Well, dear friends, sadly I am going to have to part ways with blogging for a while. I admit I am struggling and I need to take a step back to focus on my family and finishing my book. My plan is to return in September with a new strategy, a new way forward, a new push in all my writing/blogging.
I’ll love and leave you with this song, Duck and Run by 3 Doors Down, one of my all time favourite bands and a song I’ve listened to since my Californian days. This message keeps me fighting as it did then through turmoil of a different kind. It is my mantra and for all those who feel disaffected: we might be down but we won’t run.
I’ve made it the official Song Of The Summerhouse.
I’m taking a blogging break, but I’m not going anywhere. Stay with me, will you?
I will miss you all, dear friends, but I wish you a most wonderful, safe, joy-filled summer.
See you in September!
Love Sherri xxx