I am sitting in a south facing room staring out of the bay windows. I notice the bees flying around the hedge, but in fact they are wasps, attracted to the sticky stuff the aphids leave behind whilst they feed on the new orangy-pink shoots of my cherry tree hedge. The insects are unaware of the earthquake that has happened in UK politics overnight.
I was going to bed at 2.30am this morning when I thought I would check out whether any European referendum results were out yet. There were, and even though neither the remain side or the leave side had amassed over a million votes yet, Leave were ahead. This grabbed my interest, so I settled down in front of BBC One with a bowl of spicy corn chips and a blueberry yohurt to see what was going on. The dog settled in on my lap, but he doesn’t stay there long because I’ve picked up a 0% fat, vanilla yoghurt and I hurriedly change it.
It is far too early to say what is going to happening but there are signs that Leave are ahead of where the poles expected them to be. As I watch, the Glasgow result comes in and as expected it is another win for Scottish Remain. Remain start pulling ahead in the overall total. There are over a million votes on each side now, Remain stay ahead by around 70 000. This must have comforted me, because I snoozed off at this point, the chips and yoghurt long consumed.
I regain consciousness but the first indication that I have lost time is that multiple millions are now showing for the totals. Leave has regained the lead and we are approaching 200 counts being in, the gap has grown to 700 000 now. I wonder if all the large constituencies are in, and I see a map of the UK. Scotland has voted overwhelmingly to remain in Europe, as has the majority of Northern Island and central London. The total numbers are now above ten million, and it seems to me that Leave are probably going to win. More results in but by 4.30am the BBC states that it is probably impossible for Remain to win, it is predicting a 52% vote for leaving the EU.
I watch for a bit longer, trying to decide what to do, eventually deciding to update my American friends, post my disappointment on Facebook, then go to bed. It is raining heavily outside. My wife is asleep, should I wake her? No let her keep sleeping a while longer, she’ll be upset once she finds out. I lie in bed, but cannot sleep so I get up again.
On my laptop I watch the results come in. I text my local German friend. It is her birthday today so I wish her well, and hope the referendum result doesn’t have too much of an effect on the celebrations. The results come in in fits and bursts. I curl up with the dog for comfort. Only 13 results left, Leave still dont have an overall win, but they are near. I doze off again. This time all results are in and the UK is definitely leaving the EU. It is 7.30am and my wife texts me with an unhappy face. I go to comfort her, she has tears in her eyes as I listen to her disbelief.
As I get dressed for the day I noticed that the numbness has given way to other feelings. I recognise this feeling. It is how I felt after the initial shock of my Dad dying had worn off. I acknowledge that I am in the first stages of grief. Out walking the dog I notice two sparrows once of which sounds like it wants to be fed. I identify them as the mother sparrow and a fledgling and wonder how safe the y0ungster is.
It seems to me that life will go on after this referendum and maybe nothing much will change. I feel like apologising to my European friends, I wonder about naming them on my blog but then realise it feels like there are too many to count so perhaps I could do their countries. I go home and write.
My wife interrupts me, she needs to be at the hairdresser’s shortly and wants me to drive her. A slightly newer version of the car I am driving goes past my driveway as I pull out. I can tell from the number plate that they are Germans, though I don’t recognise the town acronym. We pull along side them at the traffic lights but not quite far enough for me to wind down my window and say “Es tut mir leid” to the driver, so I wonder about getting out knowing it probably isn’t safe to do so. We do a bit of a dance for the next few junctions after which I turn right whilst they carry on. Looking back it seems rather symbolic now.
I spoke to the owner of a jewelry shop on the way in. She is retiring soon and selling off her stock, and I have popped in to return some boxes for her to reuse. We discuss the results, she express her shock and now I am feeling anger but also like crying. “Not a good time to retire”, she comments, “have you seen the price of gold this morning?”. We part deciding to make the best of the day that we can.
My English friends are posting their comments on Facebook now, their grieving process is unfolding too. David Cameron has resigned which I think is right and Donald Trump is congratulating us. That doesn’t improve my mood. It’s my kids and their generation that I feel most sorry for, but on reflection I feel sorry for my own too. I hope the future is as bright as the Leave campaigners promised.