Friends, Remnants, and Countrymen.....
I bought a new car the other day. I had saved all my life and put aside a little bit here and there, and now, as I'm not so far off my three-score-years-and-ten, I wanted to treat myself. A little bit of fun left at the bottom of the bucket list.
I took possession of the car the other day. I thought it looked like this.....
Shiny and new. Quiet and safe. A car for the outdoors.
So I proudly took Amanda (my wife) for a drive into the countryside. Parked. And went for a walk.
The countryside looked like this.....
Fresh and green, with those wonderful splashes of mischievous digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)....
Even on a slightly overcast day I thought my country - the country where I grew up, the country that my parents and grandparents fought for, the country that formed me - was beautiful. Something to be proud of.
We watched skylarks ascending, and swifts scissoring across the tops of the grasses.
Then, when we got back to the car park, everything had changed.....
No longer the shiny fine vehicle I had put my pension into, but a burnt out wreck, a worthless shell....
The irony is, I should have seen it coming, so, despite my shock, I am grateful to those who went to the trouble to teach me this lesson....
I know who did it. But it wasn't the usual suspects. No. Not the seventeen and a half million of my compatriots who normally attract the blame.
They weren't responsible. No. They have been abused for years, the victims of an under-education posing as a National Curriculum, and of shameful welfare cuts. The lack of investment in northern cities and small towns, the poverty of austerity has reaped its own harvest.
No. Seventeen and a half million of my compatriots cannot take the blame. They too, after all, will find their vehicles, their prized possessions, burnt out in the countryside. They will find they have no friends.
Friends, Remnants, countrymen, lend me your ears.....
I have been taught a lesson. My eyes were blind. I thought I was a European, but....
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Boris wrong, and Michael wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
And though I remain a European, geographically, culturally, spiritually and emotionally,
Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honourable:
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it: they are wise and honourable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Boris is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,