22 Dec Hopes and Dreams
Two pictures of my silver birch. Hard to believe they were taken just over two weeks apart. I returned from Scotland at the end of November to the golden climax of my tree’s autumn. Just as stunning against a grey sky as it was against the chill blue of this one. Two weeks later my tree is bare. I could write a story on its slender pale-as-parchment trunk, a story of how vulnerable it looks, how much its thin, red-dark branches shiver in the breeze.
My tree as metaphor. I know it’s obvious, but how to resist? All the hopes and dreams have blown away. Fallen to the ground, swept up and piled into the big green bin the Council men will collect at the end of the week. It’s a Lib Dem council – at least for the time being while we still have Lib Demmery. Feels ironic.
It’s been difficult to focus the thinking since the election. That was 12th December but it was Friday 13th at about 3 am when the hopes and dreams really did blow away. I gave up on the vigil. It’s a ritual in a way, the hanging onto the possibility that the exit poll is wrong. If you just make yourself stay awake there’s bound to be good news. If you go to bed, you’ll miss it. I even catch myself thinking that by staying up to watch I will somehow make it turn out differently. Magical thinking on a night without magic.
What had I hoped for? Something narrower, some slim holding onto European hope. Deep down I think I knew it wasn’t going to happen. And now it feels difficult to hope, let alone dream – or even know what to wish for. It’s troubling – not just the colour of the government and the size of the majority though that is depressing enough. There’s tragedy, too, in not feeling sure if… how the alternative would have been better. All that bickering. Feels like nobody has ideas. Just slogans.
I had hoped at least that there would be a lull afterwards while the victors celebrated and the vanquished tended to their wounds. But the airwaves remain full of people firm in their views mostly rubbishing one another while the grandees and their well-heeled ilk make a killing on the money markets, short the pound – whatever that means – and rustle up privileged ways of getting a European passport because they don’t really believe in all that sovereignty business they’ve been going on about all this time and their commitment to an England unshackled from that abominable EU is only as good as their next offshore deposit. And, meanwhile, the queues of child refugees will muster at our shores and we will turn them away. I don’t know how we will live with ourselves.
I’m feeling really angry and really sad. Don’t know which is the more potent or whether not knowing matters. What happens when there’s nobody out there to hold a light for the things you believe in? Over dinner last night a friend said: “What can we do now?” Nobody had an answer.
I will tend to my tree and await its renewal. There’s a robin poking the ground beneath it, checking for what morsel might have turned up now the soil is dug over and the shrubs are cut back for the winter. He’s looking for food; perhaps as he digs around with his little beak he’ll be lucky and find some fragments of hopes and dreams.