After a series of Parliamentary amendments that moved us not a jot closer to a solution to Brexit, are you, as the Broadway song declares; Bewitched, bothered or bewildered by it all?
Leavers still seem bewitched by Brexit. Remainers of course are bothered; most desperately bothered, by such a prospect whilst many are so bewildered by the tricks and trumpery of Parliament that they’ve switched off completely. Whichever you are, the song ‘Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered’ seems quite appropriate for the times, so let’s take a closer look. It started life in a 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical ‘Pal Joey’ and re-appeared in the 1957 film with Frank Sinatra. Both stage and screen versions feature a naïve young woman ensnared by a cheap nightclub owner who plays around with two women and can’t make up his mind whether to stick around or go. Sound familiar Boris? It seems that anywhere we look we can draw parallels with our Brexit dilemma and borrowing from showbiz to get a point across is quite the trend. Social media and the press have provided us with a host of cinematic references.
We’ve had ‘The Hills are alive with the sound of Brexit’ (Matt Chorley The Times Sept 2018) and more recently, a poster of ‘The Sound of Music’ featuring the photo-shopped heads of May, Farage et al prancing about the hills looking as daft as they really are. We’ve laughed at Boris Poppins suspended on a current of his own hot air on our own Europa United social media and as debates reach their climax, we’ve seen cartoon images of ‘High Noon’ in Parliament as well as more serious propositions such as ‘High Noon for a sensible decision on Brexit’ (The Lancet 3rd November 2018). There was Andrew Adonis’s ‘May faces shootout’ (The European June 8th 2018) and more recently, the circular arguments of our politicians that have been described as ‘Ground Hog Day’ whilst finally, the plot of ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ has been used to sum up May and her madness.
Film, it seems, is a safe way to get to grips with our dilemma. We know the references; we understand the plot and its underlying narrative, and right now we are desperate for a story to hang on to; something we recognise in order to make sense of what is happening to our country. Because that’s what stories do. They position us within a setting where villains rise to the surface, values are challenged, and we find ourselves helpless against the odds. To borrow a verse from our ‘Pal Joey’ song;
I’m wild again, beguiled again,
A simpering, whimpering child again.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered – am I”
They say a film should have five parts; Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Denouement. Well in that case we are seriously in the middle, sitting in the darkness with our popcorn suspended mid-air waiting for the final events to emerge. In January our monarch urged us to look at the bigger picture. Well here we are, glued to the big screen, and whether we like it or not, we are in this together, feeling the suspense, praying for an end to this jiggery-pokery, and hoping that Parliament will come to its senses. Some of us already have. Some of us are red-hot angry with what’s going on and are starting to rewrite the script. “Hang on in there!” one of our more vocal protesters shouts. “Don’t give up hope. This is far from over!” and so our heroes and heroines arise. But we still need to convince the waverers, the ignorant and the tepid. We need the house lights up so that everyone can see the reality of Brexit for what it really is. Borrowing again from our song, let’s hopes that we, as a nation, can become;
“Wise at last, my eyes at last, Cutting you down to size at last
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered – no more
Burned a lot, but learned a lot
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered – no more”
Two immediate points. Firstly, I am an enormous fan of musicals. That is not to say I like them all but give me ‘Flying Down to Rio’ any day over Brexit and the temptation to do as Fred Astaire sings is not entirely beyond temptation.
The second is to Brexit itself. I am at a stage where laughter comes easily but I do not always know whether it is nervousness or because of the surreality of this idiocy. I am working with people here in France who are in a state of perplexity in their condition of not knowing what is happening. We are now at the stage where the French government has pro forma legislation but mainly geared for no deal. That has created uncertainty, but then the ‘agreement’, May’s withdrawal agreement that is, caused massive displeasure and, of course, a slightly different variant on uncertainty. So there they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. In this department the waiting list for appointments to submit an application for a residency permit has been solidly booked for months on end. Now it is closed until after 29 March. Nervous people are not easy to work with. They make me nervous and I do not have a nervous disposition!
That aside, some of us are getting more and more involved in whatever action we can be involved in to stop this bloody farcical error of judgement by one of the most contrary and incompetent governments I personally remember. My long term memory is long, really long, and there I can say that over the years I have seen them come and go. The sooner this one is gone, the better. But first is the dragon to slay. I am nearly as old as the doomsday clock that began at seven minutes to midnight and Armageddon in 1947, sank to three minutes by 1949, has been three minutes in 1984, again in 2015 and 16 but since 2017 has been two minutes. Our attitude is that if the world can hang on by its fingernails, then so can we. Even if on 29 March a hanging headed Theresa May says ‘Sorry’, although I am not sure she knows that word, the rescinds the notice to leave the EU, which they graciously accept, then I shall dance like Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in ‘Singing in the Rain’ some of the most memorable musical dances of all time.