I landed at Heathrow and found it difficult to get excited about my return to the old country after eight hours on a plane. I don't smoke, but have learned that in times of stress I can work my way through a pouch of rolling tobacco and then give up once I'm done without experiencing further cravings. This once again seemed like something worth considering so I went to the newsagent in the National Express coach station. He didn't have Golden Virginia, and I dislike the other brands. I walked around for a little while, but with forty minutes to wait for my coach to Coventry, I decided fuck it, and went back.
'What cigarettes do you have?'
'Benson & Hedges, Marlboro-'
'Ten Bensons will be fine. Do they still do them in packets of ten?'
They did. They were eight quid, but my need was great.
'These were less than two pounds last time I bought them,' I told the guy, but more depressing were the tabloid newspapers on display on the rack to my left. It was the day of Britain's unelected Prime Minister initiating Article 50, the one which would begin the country's long, slow, and possibly quite painful withdrawal from the European Union, and the Sun, the Mail, and the other usual suspects had risen to the occasion with characteristically witless puns offered in the general spirit of crowing.
Dover and Out...
See EU Later...
Aside from issues of the National Enquirer and similar publications trumpeting the latest blow struck by Donald Trump in the name of plain talk and common sense - which I see in my local supermarket - I am usually able to avoid this specific kind of bullshit. It looked weird and slightly scary seen beyond the confines of the internet. I went outside the coach station and smoked my fag.
A couple of evenings later I am still jetlagged. My sleep patterns are in disarray. I have a pounding headache and can't sleep, and by the time I decide there's nothing else for it but to get up and take a paracetamol it's six in the morning. I go back to bed and sleep at last. I have a peculiar dream in which I'm offering a former work colleague a portobello mushroom.
'Do ye want this mushroom?' I ask him in a Glaswegian accent.
It's a sketch from Limmy's Show and is somehow interrupted by my mother calling. I wake up, disgruntled to have an unexpected visitor. It's half past ten in the morning.
Later we're walking to the village. He points to the race track as we pass and tells me it's closed down. Apparently the land was purchased by a wog. The wog applied for planning permission to turn the race track into something else and was turned down, so the race track, this thing of great beauty, has been ruined by a wog.
I haven't heard the word spoken aloud without quotation marks since about 1982. Maybe the gentleman in question has a bone through his nose and a tendency to say Ooga booga whilst rolling his eyes. There was a pause before the word, observed so as to check that it was the correct term by which to describe this terrible man, and apparently it was.
We walk on and pass a young man of what may be Indian ethnicity, someone coffee coloured.
He doesn't say it so loud as for the young man to hear, and I guess it's supposed to be funny - one of those things we used to be allowed to say before political correctness spoiled all the fun. I'm beginning to see a pattern here and now I'm wondering if the Union Jack was always quite so prevalent as it seems to have become, or whether it's simply that I'm noticing it more since the clusterfuck of Brexit and 37% of the British people finally getting to have their say - or whatever the figure was in the end.
The truth is finally unleashed as we hit the pub by the village green for a pint of something that I don't enjoy very much. It's the Romanians, he tells me, then adding Somalis and Gypsies to the list. I don't know how he has come by any of this information with which he regales me in an effort to prove his point. I don't see how any of the poor fuckers impact on his existence in any way beyond providing a few evidently satisfying scowls over the morning paper, which I later discover to be the Sun.
He doesn't like Trump either, but adds that one thing Donald has got right is the Mexicans. This he tells to me, an immigrant living in a city which in some respects may as well be in Mexico, drawing on his vast wealth of worldly experience with all those Mexicans flooding across the border, raping, pillaging, and bringing down property values with a taco truck on every corner.
Somehow I don't tell him to go fuck himself, instead saying 'I don't want us to fall out over this, but that's complete crap,' and so I tell him why. I give him the statistics and the facts so far as I understand them, the details which are all out there and freely available to view in the comfort of your own internet-enabled home if you give enough of a shit to want them. I tell him the stuff which I shouldn't have to tell anyone because it's fucking obvious if you have a brain.
Amazingly he doesn't take offense, I suspect because he's not actually that engaged with any of the arguments either way. It's all on the surface, like talking about the weather. The arguments are jigsaw puzzles, something to pass the time like picking up a newspaper and shaking your head.
Isn't it terrible!
We walk back.
I notice a copy of the Sun at rest on the kitchen table, so that explains that. The sideline of the front page declares that Theresa May's government will now be able to come up with its own human rights laws, having told Brussels to fuck off, and I guess this is presented as good news.
This has been one tough fucking day.