Assuming “a ferment” means what I think it means. I went through a phase, years ago, of home-brewing various concoctions, beer, wine, I think mead once, and as I remember, there was always a stage where I had a pleasant-smelling liquid with a crust on top - that crust is the surface I remember; that liquid is what I mean by “a ferment”. Up to that point, I enjoyed my alcohol-making activities - all the more if everything rose up in the yeast-driven equivalent of milk boiling over - but my experiments tended to fail at the point where the instructions said: leave it for three months.
Or some such interval. You have to taste things, don’t you? And if they don’t taste as good as a cold glass of (I think I’m remembering this correctly) White’s American Cream Soda, well, three months is longer than a lifetime at a certain age. And agreeing to the pouring of a vast quantity of ghastliness down the drain in return for a packet of Mintolas is an obvious no-brainer, right? No, we didn’t have the term “no-brainer” back then, but we would have understood the concept. Rolos were for everyday eating; Mintolas meant that a negotiation was serious. Yes, a whole packet. And there was always Airfix to fill the rest of the day.
Anyway - that’s what the sky looked like this morning. The grey/white contemporary reimagining of the surface on a small-ish boy’s attempts to make alcohol. No, there can’t have been any expectation that I might succeed, and no, it never occurred to me to open up the drinks cabinet and find out whether there was anything inside that might justify calling it the drinks cabinet. I suspect that my interest in wine-making had more to do with witches and wizards mixing up potions in books and comics and on television, than with any ambition actually to drink.
That came later. I had a chemistry set, back in those dangerous days, and used to rig up test tubes, variously shaped flasks, etcetera, into confabulations of glass and tubing that would have achieved just about anything colourful and bubbling - but I gave all that up after discovering that mixing chemicals randomly and then applying a lit match to see what might happen - enough said. I was lucky. Health & Safety didn’t exist back then, so it couldn’t regulate the chemicals that were supplied with chemistry sets, in little glass bottles, to small boys (and no doubt girls) playing in their bedrooms, with matches.
Sudden flock of birds - seagulls, I think - and behind them the same sky. Maybe I went to wine-making because there was a lot of water involved, and water can be trusted not to ignite. Maybe that’s to impose a narrative structure on fragments of memory. All this peace and quiet outside the window - and we’re settled on a tectonic plate that is floating (?) on the molten core of a rock that is hurtling through a void, in an orbit around a burning star. There’s a narrative structure for you. Somebody should tell these birds - although I suppose much of their ability to navigate, work out where they are, et cetera, depends on gravity, moon, orbits, tides, and maybe we’re all what we are because of where we are.
On this soft-centred hot rock under a grey sky - greyer than earlier; the wind’s getting up - held in place by gravity, which wouldn’t work without the whole hurtling-through-space thing. I wouldn’t be me without the easy availability of Flowers of Sulphur back in the long ago, and that seagull wouldn’t glide so easily if the world wasn’t spinning on its axis. Maybe without realising it I’m writing a blog post with a moral - small changes, however well meant, risk destabilising complex structures. If the world would just hold still, as it does in that H G Wells short story, the one about the man who could work miracles, we’d be able to sort out what’s good for us.
The first People’s Vote (see Glossary) asked the question - I paraphrase - “Do you want to leave?” and got the answer “Yes.” We can engage in the sophistry of counting the people who didn’t vote on one side or the other, but by the rules of the game back then, the vote was to leave. The proposed Second Referendum (see Glossary) seems likely to ask the question - again, I paraphrase - “Do you want to step from wealth into poverty, light into dark, flat-calm inshore waters into raging sea - or do you now realise that you were mistaken and you’d like to stay after all?”
None of which is remotely patronising and all of which is carefully phrased to ensure that those voters who were so easily deceived first time are able to get the right answer this time. But before we get into an argument over the phrasing of that sentence, I’d say - it misses the point anyway. Okay, you’re right. Yes. Yes, I see that. Sure, fine, whatever. Yeah, yeah, got it. Uh huh. Right. Yeah. Gosh, what a rigid conviction you have. Oh, how I regret raising the subject. I’ll just crawl off and vote quietly, alone, my way.
But how about this? Let’s just get past the whole thing. It doesn’t matter how this ends now, just so long as it does end. No, sigh, I’m not saying that I would welcome a total disaster, just that the ending - whatever it is, either way - is just about the only place left where we can look for a new beginning.
PS: I did have one thought. They didn’t want us to join, back in the past - de Gaulle’s “Non!” predates Thatcher’s “No! No! No!” by a long way - but the most striking aspect of the negotiations to date has been The Twenty-Seven’s reluctance to let us leave. You’d think they’d be eager to show us the door. But no. They clearly like our approach to the European project. Minds have changed on the other side of the water.
If they like us, and the arguments are so compelling, perhaps we should get Brexit out of the way first and then apply to join the EU.
British Economy, The. Abstract term used to make scary forecasts sound as though they’ll affect all of us. Example: “The British Economy could collapse after a Leave vote.”
Could. Word used to enable scarier forecasts. Example: “The British Economy could go into complete meltdown after a Leave vote.”
People’s Vote. Referendum
Referendum. People’s Vote
Sanity. Belief that Brexit won’t make that much difference either way, in the long run.