It’s that time of year when we cheerfully (?) tolerate unfunny old jokes written on tiny slips of paper and concealed in crackers, so here’s my effort:
“What’s red, white and blue, or possibly grey, but definitely not black or white, and comes in hard and soft varieties?”
No, I’m afraid there’s no funny punchline. In fact there’s nothing very humorous about this at all, it’s deadly serious. I don’t know who came up with the ‘red, white and blue’ line, or what was going through the Prime Minister’s head as she duly recited it, but it’s even more inane than the mantra about breakfast meaning breakfast.
According to what the papers tell us, May was actually a Remain supporter, although she didn’t do a lot to promote that view at the time. It has occurred to me more than once recently that perhaps she really is having a laugh with all of us – giving the Brexit head-bangers the impossible task of trying to come up with a plan, sitting on the side-lines making comments which say nothing, and waiting until it’s safe to come forward and say something along the lines of “well, I always thought this was a silly idea; why don’t we have a rethink?”
I’d like to believe that; it’s preferable to believing that she really thinks that what she says makes any sort of sense. It would be a cunning plan of course, albeit in the Baldrickian sense of being not very cunning at all and doomed to fail, but it would at least be a plan. I’d like to believe it, but I can’t.
Instead, they’re just blundering forward, telling Johnny Foreigner in no uncertain terms that he needs us more than we need him, behaving as though they live in the imperial past, and now wrapping up what looks like an almost total vacuum in a flag and appealing to people’s sense of British patriotism to believe that this emptiness is in fact a thing of substance, which has colour and form as well.The odd thing is that, as with the emperor’s new suit, those who want to see it can, and believe it to be a thing of great beauty. We need to remind them constantly that, in this case, the beauty that they see really is entirely in the eye, or perhaps brain, of the beholder.