What a terrible ringtone Bad To The Bone is.
I lie in the dark with staring eyes, fumbling for the phone. What?? Is someone dead?
Baaaad to the bone …
Oh wait. It’s only crazy Uncle Jack calling from Torremolinos where he’s been living since that embarrassing incident on the Mile End Road back in the Sixties. He’s not really my uncle, but he married my Auntie and anyway who cares if he’s a bit of a villain? Uncle Jack, he’s all right.
Hey, Jack, I reply. Is everything ok?
I see us Brits is leavin the UN.
Jack, it’s dark. The birds haven’t even started to threaten each other. Why are you calling me at five in the morning?
We have enough of the UN. We want out.
You’re not leaving the UN, Jack. You were never leaving the UN. Anyway, you haven’t voted in Britain since that unfortunate incident in 1963.
You got it all wrong my son, Jack replied. We are leaving this Union thing, whatever it is. We are going to be independent.
Jack, I try to explain. Britain had a referendum about leaving the EU but that’s sorted out now. They’re staying. I checked before going to bed.
UN. EU. Whatever you call it, we’re out. Us Brits is leavin everything with a U in it. I heard it on Fox news.
I shoot upright in the bed like I’ve been pepper-sprayed.
Have you been at the sherry?
I saw that friendly guy on TV. You know, the cheerful fella with the pint of beer? Garage or something. He was saying …
That’s him. Michel Fromage. French chap. He was saying Britain is safe from foreigners after the vote.
Jack, I need a coffee. Don’t hang up. Do not hang up!
I hop out of the bedroom pulling on one shoe, finger the laptop power button, poke at the TV on-switch and nudge the broken radio into life as the kettle screams Brexit and every neuron in my brain says No! They can’t be that stupid!
But they are.
They really are that stupid, buying in to every half-truth and distortion fed to them by the Leave side.
They really, really have been that stupid.
Hello? A tiny, tinny voice echoes from the phone. Hello?
Sorry, Uncle Jack, I munch through my healthy wholemeal toast, longing for that delicious cottage loaf of my childhood. Sorry, Jack. I forgot about you.
Course you did, he reproaches, just like everyone else does at my age. But Mr Fromage didn’t forget me. Michael Fromage, the leader of U-Quip who fought tirelessly to keep Brussels tyranny out of Britain.
You mean tyranny like the Working Hours Act? Tyranny like getting rid of roaming charges on phone calls? Tyranny like abolishing the airline cartels, making your flights to Torremolinos so much cheaper?
Never mind that. What about the other stuff?
What other stuff?
Straight bananas. Stopping us setting our own VAT rate. Forcing us to take in refugees.
You didn’t take in refugees, your bananas are still bendy and you still set your own VAT rate.
Never mind that, says Jack. It might all happen. I believe that Russian fella, Maurice Johnson.
Yeah. Proper English toff, him. Who am I to disagree with a proper toff like that? He’s been to Oxford and everything, and besides, the Daily Mail and the Sun said that we was overrun with immigrants, over here taking our dole and our jobs.
How can they take your dole and your jobs at the same time, Jack? Isn’t it one thing or the other?
We don’t want no immigrants in our country.
How about foreign footballers? I ask. How about doctors? How about nurses?
Why is it different?
They’re not really immigrants. Not really.
What are they then?
They’re temporary residents providing a service.
Tell me this, Jack. What will we do when the customs posts go back up on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland? What will we do when the Pound collapses and our exports to Britain become too expensive and our industries start to buckle?
Don’t be silly, Jack says. We’re a great country. The sun never sets on our empire.
Jack, how long is is since you set foot in Britain? Wasn’t it the time you visited Ronnie Biggs back in 1964?
Well, yeah. But we’re still a great empire.
Jack, I say, where does this vote leave you?
How do you mean?
Well, aren’t you an immigrant? Won’t you have to go home too?
Don’t be ridiculous, Jack chuckles. I’m not an immigrant. I’m a British ex-pat. Only foreigners are immigrants.