I was fourteen years old when I fell in love with London. Strictly speaking, it was the 1980s pop band Culture Club I’d fallen for but to my infatuated teenage heart, the two were synonymous.
My father had moved to London the year before and in the years that followed my brother and I would make the occasional visit during school holidays. My father’s flat was only a few minutes’ walk from Kensington Market, the three-storey indoor nirvana for anyone looking for cool things. In an attempt to fit in, I’d wear a Billy Idol t-shirt, purple eyeshadow and big silver hoop earrings while weaving in and out of the many shop stalls, wishing I had the money and the courage to get myself a tattoo or an earful of piercings.
To a very uncool teenager from Sweden, London in the 1980s was exotic, hip, a treasure trove of adventures and possibilities. It was the era of neon colours, big hair and lots and lots of hairspray and my idea of fashion and style was heavily influenced not only by Culture Club frontman Boy George but also pop bands like Eurythmics, Bananarama and the Bangles.
All of those memories of a time gone by came flooding back to me last night when I once again sang and danced along to the tunes of Culture Club at Wembley Arena in North London. What made the evening especially poignant was that while Culture Club – a band known for embracing diversity of all kinds – was performing to a full house of overexcited 40-somethings, the British Prime Minister Theresa May had just finished presenting her Brexit deal to cabinet ministers. Far from embracing the diversity, tolerance and love that Boy George sings about, Brexit is a decisive move towards isolationism and intolerance.
Although I knew it would ruin my still exuberant mood from last night’s concert, I turned on the TV this morning to watch Theresa May answer questions about the Brexit deal from disgruntled MPs in the Commons. More than two hours into the session, I was willing the ever so composed Prime Minister to lose her cool, calling out to the crowd:
“Sod it, I’ve had it with the lot of you! Wankers! You think you can manage a better Brexit, be my guest.” And with those words, she’d walk out, head back to No. 10 to fetch Phillip and her walking sticks and disappear in a puff of smoke, having swapped her kitten heels for her favourite pair of Swiss hiking boots.
I am no fan of Theresa May or Brexit, but it stands to reason that any Brexit deal would fall short of the fanciful utopia once promised by devoted Brexiteers like Johnson, Davis and Rees-Mogg. Their version of Brexit is simply undeliverable, and any Brexit deal was bound to leave Britain worse off than it currently is. It was either incredibly ignorant or plain delusional to think that EU would go along with Britain’s ambition to have the cake and eat it. And contrary to what those in favour of a hard Brexit claim, most of what troubles Britain today is of its own making and will not be solved by ‘taking back control’ from Brussels.
What is the way forward then? A people’s vote that allows for three options: a) accept the deal on the table; b) reject the deal and crash out of the EU with no safety guarantees or c) stop Brexit altogether?
It’s anyone’s guess how this Brexit farce will end, but one thing is certain: there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.