Dateline: Long Crendon, December 24.
Grey, cold and wet. Here we are in Buckinghamshire and the village has a new bakery. It’s first in a line of old stables, at the end of which is a stall with a very large and very pregnant sow called Hennie. Hennie is a Gloucester Old Spot and she’s shuffling her hay around and grunting, trying to get comfortable. She must weight 500 pounds and is irritable. If you were 500 pounds and very pregnant you’d be irritable too. I hope she’s not thinking about how many of her offspring will end up in the bakery’s superior sausage rolls. We have Rebecca’s dog with us, a city-bred cockapoo. Ziggy is not allowed in the bakery and definitely not in the stall with the sow. The baker tells me that Roger, the boar responsible for her condition, makes the sow look small.
Rebecca and crew are arriving later and that will bring our Christmas complement to 6 kids and six adults, with 2 Indian runner ducks in the garden who go by the names of Speedy and Quackers. The ducks do not observe Christmas and so do not take the day off, but will be hard at work patrolling the garden for slugs and snails. They have to be put back in their house nightly or risk evisceration by a visiting fox or badger.
We see Trump had cancelled his Christmas golf game, so things must be dire. His wall fetish seems a little obsessive. But it feels no saner here on this side of the ever smaller Pond. Brexit is a dire prospect but a boring subject. How the Brits tied themselves in knots with it is extraordinary. Brexit has its roots in the Maastricht treaty of 1991 which approved the formation of the single currency but was stridently opposed by an increasingly wacko section of the Conservative Party who have always rejected anything to do with Europe. Britain Firsters, sound familiar? In spite of the EU’s obvious and quantifiable benefits they and their tabloid co-conspirators have never been assuaged. They are increasingly irritable, pregnant with the thought of making Britain Great Again. So they are against Europe, their biggest trading partner, and they are against immigrants, especially brown ones, who dilute the national genius. The same conceit which once dismissed the French now does so again. Germans, Italians, Poles? All the same: not Us. As with the right wing creeps closer to home, facts don’t matter. But these Brexiteers have learned that a small group of loud, repetitive fanatics can dominate the rest of us. They know that bringing Reason against Emotion is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Think Bolsheviks, whose name means majority but who in reality were the minority. But a minority convinced they should and would be the majority. Now there’s a movement for a second referendum. The People’s Vote would pose the question of not just in or out but on what terms? A stranger from Mars would see there is more advantage to staying in than with a no deal. But it’s an emotional issue, and against emotions facts matter not.
You can’t reason with an irritable sow.
Merry Christmas wherever you spend it. I hope Father Christmas or his American cousin, Santa, treats you well.