What an extraordinary week this has been. Both on a personal and, far far more importantly, on a national (and international) level.
(For the avoidance of doubt, the images below have little to do with the text, but I figure we could all do with uplifting a little. And I took them recently at a kite festival in Denmark. Which, also for the avoidance of doubt, is a member of the EU).
Personally, it was the week when I did my very last paid work. Ever, I think and hope. From now on the work I do will be voluntary and unpaid. I thought that was going to be the really momentous bit for me.
It was the week when we were part of a college reunion for students from the 1970s – a trip back to the (then women’s) college I went to in Oxford, meeting up with old friends and lost acquaintances. I thought that was (just) going to be fun.
Far more importantly, it was the week when the UK (or more accurately, parts of England and Wales) voted to leave the EU. I thought that was going to be a close but in the end sane result.
How wrong I was.
During the past few days we have lamented, discussed, debated, and pondered endlessly on what the referendum outcome will mean. It has been, is, and will be very painful, profoundly disappointing, and very very scary.
As it turned out, the St Anne’s reunion was more than timely. We were treated to a fascinating and illuminating (and also really, really worrying) lecture by Professor Neil MacFarlane, Professor and Fellow in International Relations and specialist on Russian foreign policy and the regional dynamics of the former USSR.
After the evening meal there followed a passionate and moving speech by the Principal, Tim Gardam. He reflected on the education, experiences and careers of those of us who were privileged to be St Anne’s students in the 1970s compared with the experience of the current and future cohorts of students. They being the generations that have been sold down the river by the referendum vote (my words, not his). He emphasised the part that our generation has played in working in and for public services of every kind as well as the voluntary and commercial sector; and the vital covenant between the generations that requires us now more than ever to work to heal the rifts, understand the hurts, and support all our young people to a future that is as good as it can be.
But, it is what it is, and we have to find a way to face up to it, to understand it, and to move forward with it. It’s a shame then that so far the politicians who caused this crisis have been distinctly absent, only to appear to lie and renege on what they said during their campaign; and apparently reluctant to face up to the monster they alone have created. Little wonder that trust in politicians and political promises is at such a low ebb.
I came away from the weekend refreshed by having spent time with like-minded, thoughtful people; reinvigorated by the intellectual stimulation of the two talks and many lively debates and discussions; and with a growing commitment to doing anything I can to try to mitigate the dreadful damage threatened by the referendum decision, but also the dreadful damage caused by lying self-serving politicians and years of neglect and harm to already impoverished communities around our country.
Meanwhile, family and friends who live and work in other EU countries consider their options and take steps to seek another nationality. Migration isn’t just a one-way street.
*FUBAR? look it up