It might be a glaring omission that I haven’t written about this yet.
Honestly it’s because I couldn’t. I and many others were repeatedly reduced to tears by this; we didn’t think it was possible. We couldn’t believe we even got to the point where the question was asked.
But then, of the (still depressingly few) people who bothered to get out and vote, a slight majority decided our European identity was disposable. Or, indeed, that we never had one in the first place.
I happened to be in Greece at the time, with my friend from Russia. Yes, I’d organised a proxy vote. I tentatively made my way to our hotel foyer the morning of the result for breakfast, and I could not avoid seeing the news on the television.
I could read ‘Brexit result’ (having done Ancient Greek for all of about a month, voluntarily at lunchtimes and after school, until tonsillitis took me out of that particular race) but little else.
So I asked someone what happened.
They said “51/49” (I don’t think the count had been properly finalised)
I did a victory pose \o/
They looked at me. “To leave…”
And I deflated.
I must not have looked too well because they started asking if I was OK and was I British, then? Did I want to stay? Of course I did.
I could not believe it. I held back the tears because of the presence of so many complete strangers, and the overwhelmingly friendly hotel managers.
So I had to explain it all to my friend who had been quite far removed from the whole thing. Politics in Russia is pretty special; it takes a strong stomach to really engage.
I tried to enjoy the rest of my holiday, but really, something huge changed that day. Here’s what I wrote the following day, after we left that lovely hotel to see Athens and before I made my way home.
I’m not going to pepper it with articles but I will be collating some in Storify instead.
OK one good thing today from Brexit.
On the ship from Naxos to Athens. Trying not to cry with the Greek news coverage on.
Woman opposite gets up to take a picture of the TV, she seems to know a commentator. I asked her girlfriend if she knew them.
Cue big chat about how shit it all is. I say I’m so sorry and they’re lovely. Turns out said girlfriend lives and works in London, East not far from my main uni campus.
She says she doesn’t feel welcome any more and if the economy tanks she’ll have to leave. It’s so sad for the UK, she said, such a beautiful place and nice people (well, mostly).
The first woman said people make snap decisions and we shouldn’t fight with each other. I agree.
I am not so much angry at the leave voters (apart from the lazy undecideds who went Leave for no reason and the people who didn’t bother reading a damn thing) – most of this is down to ignorance and the outright lies of Leave that people actually based votes on.
She knows some English people who moved to Spain, one works for the UN, and still voted leave! We don’t understand these people.
We talk about Farage’s instant admission of the 350bn to NHS lie. Surely there must be repercussions??
Maybe we won’t do it. Maybe the petition will make a difference.
We chat about London and family and the people we love and how sad it is. Wish each other a good trip (her flight is just an hour after mine on Sunday) and I give my business card so maybe we’ll meet up.
So I made a friend or two.
But I’m afraid we will lose many more to this. People who have to leave who would rather not. People we care about.
Can we fight this? Heal this? I hope so.
On my return, I attended the first pro-EU rally in London that I could and tens of thousands turned out, which was lovely… but there’s a sense of futility. What can we do besides wait?
It’s tautology central in the news with “Brexit means Brexit” and repeated confirmation that hate crimes have increased since the vote.
I didn’t feel like I knew my country any more – maybe I never knew it at all. And I haven’t quite figured out what to do. I think I’m still in denial, in true British fashion…
Just hoping it’ll all blow over.