Maybe sometimes it just is an opportunity to step back, et cetera. There were several enthusiastic explanations of the term "constructive ambiguity" on the airwaves last week. There was a breakthrough in the glitch-up negotiations over the Northern Ireland/Eire border, apparently, so we can all go on to talk about UK/EU trade now. The inspired use of "constructive ambiguity", we were told without any guile or irony, has enabled the opposing sides to read into the agreed NI/Eire terms whatever they want them to contain. So if you think about it, there's no breakthrough, just both sides pretending to believe that they've got what they want.
One certainty, for whenever, is that any eventual UK/EU trade deal will be greeted by both sides claiming to have got what they want. "Constructive ambiguity" was Henry Kissinger's term, wasn't it, and what's great about nowadays is that we can move forward with absolutely everybody knowing, agreeing and even broadcasting that this is only a pretended breakthrough - isn't it great? No? Be quiet. Twenty-eight nations negotiated that breakthrough, the EU twenty-seven and the UK, and in the modern style, they went beyond the eleventh hour, the last moment, negotiating through the night, up to the wire, crashing the pips, running on fumes, more and more coffee, et cetera, blah, blah, into the following week - which has about as much dramatic impact as a monster movie where they show you the monster from the outset, but never mind.
Twenty-eight nations. Imagine a world in which it was possible to leave cross-border trade talks to the traders, councillors, shoppers on either side of the border in question. People who knew each other, who traded every day. Disaster! Imagine the unemployment in the Chancelleries of Europe*, if we left people to do their own negotiating.
*The Chancelleries of Europe by Alan Palmer was first published by Allen & Unwin in 1983, and was - is - a study of the high-level negotiating bodies that ruled Europe until all their constructive diplomacy finally ran into the mud of the First World War.
Cue speculative daydream: in any story about the supernatural, or the "I believe there's more", or the conventionally religious, whether it's fictional or factual (sic), the "other side" always has a great deal of difficulty getting through. Why? What are these boundaries and why are they/would they be there? It's consistent, this difficulty, across all storytelling, so I imagine there's a reason more substantive than, say, "thick fog in the Channel".