Posted in Of Writingly

Bridget Jones Part 8: What Being British Is

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Bridget Jones

Disclaimer: Views expressed are not those of the writer, but based on character motivations. The following is entirely fictional, not based on any real-life personalities, except for facts mentioned.

Friday 24 June 2016

10 a.m. I CANNOT BELIEVE IT.

10:43 a.m. I don’t know what to say. Am so full of…thoughts, emotions, confusions, uncertainty. All these days coming up to the EU Referendum has been a slow-burning nightmare. But, was confident Brexit would just remain a funny-sounding name for breakfast biscuit and not the beginning of…can’t honestly tell. Rather wish had finished expensive astrology course had once enrolled in, and not given in to the mockery of friends. The whole world could do with a fortune-teller right now, but only if the future is good.

11:30 a.m. Mr. Wallaker called to say school will give early leave on account of street disturbances and potential riots due to Brexit. He was curt on the phone, and simultaneously smug for “winning”. Didn’t have chance to discuss Brexit in the morning, but know will have to put up with his patriotic gloating over a future, independent Scotland when he gets home.

Mr. Wallaker and I don’t fight often. Mark and I used to, but he was by nature irreparably pompous. Mr. Wallaker doesn’t act superior, but his priggishness is of a humble, survivalist, salt-of-the-earth variety. Despite being born rich, his being war veteran and bringing up his boys almost as a single parent, has hardened him to anything light, frivolous, joyful or liberal. At least, that’s what I think, even if he doesn’t agree. I know Mark would have voted to remain. I know he’d been part of some big committee by now if he were alive, possibly in parliament. Albeit as a Conservative, but Conservatives haven’t proven to be all bad. David Cameron has been a proper gentleman, very progressive, and am genuinely sad to see him go.

1 p.m. Email from screenwriting agent Brian Katzenberg

Sender: Brian Katzenberg
Subject: Change of Representation

Mrs. Darcy, Bridget, I believe I should inform you that following Brexit, I may no longer work in the UK. I have been considering moving to Hollywood for years, and only stayed here because I have been passionate about discovering and representing British talent. However, as certain behaviours in my neighbourhood seems only to potentially increase after this, I think I should finally take this forward plunge in my career, rather than move somewhere else in the country. I shall send you the contacts of a couple of thoroughly British agents you can safely trust as soon as possible.

It has been a pleasure working with you, and I hope you have future successes like our mutual endeavour, My Neighbour’s Yacht.

Yours,
Brian Katzenberg

1:20 p.m. Called Talitha, who had first introduced me to agent Katzenberg. She said that a few neighbourhood youths had been forever taunting him by calling him, “Nazi Scum”, “Oi, Hitler” etc. Even if he is a German Jew, and though he has lived in various parts of Europe and America throughout his life, has lived the longest in the UK. So far, he hadn’t paid any heed to them. Never reported them to the police. But, in last few weeks, the attacks have gotten worse, with youths breaking into his house, and hitting his elderly mother. Talitha is afraid of losing some of her clients following Brexit, clients who’ve mentioned casually the last few weeks they’d rather collaborate with EU members only. Everything seems bleak and scary.

4:30 p.m. Finally, have a chance to process this. Mr. Wallaker came home all excited and jubilant, though none of the children seemed happy. Mabel said her class teacher, Mrs. Thomas, has told them that it remains to be seen whether Britain turns out to be the dominated, bullied child with hidden talents in a rough neighbourhood, or a snooty, prissy, little princess who thinks she’s better than everybody else. Billy said he’s not going to worry and, being headstrong, smart, and champion of the less-privileged like his daddy, is going to fight for anyone who gets treated poorly among his friends. James and Michael are also not happy about the result, unlike their dad.

Mr. Wallaker has his ancestral home near Inverness, and has been telling us forever about moving there. Though born and brought up in this ancestral demi-castle we live in, he’s obsessed with his Scottish roots, and wants to return to them. We’ve gone several times over this, with me telling him am plain English, possibly Welsh, Jones, and Billy and Mabel’s father being a Darcy, is actually from France, though his ancestral line hasn’t lived there in ages. And really, does all this matter now? In this day and age? We could live in Scotland, and love Scottish culture. I love the Outlander programme as much as he does. But, why do we need to become Scottish, and reject whatever warm and cosy cocktail of cultures we’ve been so far?

“You don’t understand, Bridget. It’s time we took back what’s ours. And independent Scotland will join the EU. We will be financially secure and…”

“But what about the children?” I said. “Michael will be going to Africa to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity next year. James has his GCSEs soon. Billy and Mabel are much too young to understand whether they want to live in another country, just because mummy’s boyfriend does. And Mark would have wanted them…”

“Enough, Bridget!” Mr. Wallaker glowered at me, trying to compose himself. We both fell silent.

“If I am just mummy’s boyfriend, then I think we can all agree on what we want to do. Which is whatever you want us to do.”

I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to say. I want my children to be happy. Yes, including Michael and James. And I want Mr. Wallaker to be happy. And, I want myself to be happy too. Would moving to Scotland be an easier decision for us had it not been for Brexit and potential Scottish independence? Don’t think so. Wish Mark was here, to tell us what to do. But, Mr. Wallaker wouldn’t have been here had Mark Darcy been here, and we wouldn’ t be having this conversation at all. Still, need to hear some voice of sanity, and not imagine the world going to pieces.

6:45 p.m. Very interesting edition of Sit Up Britain programme with Mark’s ex-partner in law and Magda’s husband Jeremy, who hopes to be future Conservative MP, sharing his thoughts on Brexit. Jennifer, a smart, young woman I briefly got to know before quitting Sit Up Britain, interviewed him.

Jenny said, “Mr. Richards, do you think Britain’s decision to leave the European Union sends out a negative message across the world?”

“Yes. In short, yes, I am afraid it does.” Jeremy said, measuring his words carefully, and almost apologising for saying it.

“But, surely, it is in the national interest? Doesn’t that come before pleasing your neighbours, living by some rules they’ve imposed on you?”

“No, you see, that is not why slightly more than half of Britain has voted to leave the EU. There are approximately 64 million refugees in the world right now. It is the biggest global crisis we can think of. Britain has shown itself to disagree with the EU’s status on the refugee crisis. Britain, which has been well known for its tolerance in post-colonial times…”

“But, isn’t that justified? After all, unchecked immigration is a vital issue, and people are losing jobs, educational opportunities, provisions etc, to immigrants.”

“It is a fact, but it is also an exaggeration.”

“How so?”

“Unchecked immigration is a problem, one that should be handled deftly, but this kind of xenophobia seems almost like a thinly veiled stance of racial superiority, and denies the reality of Britain today, and what makes us great as a nation. We’re a multi-cultural society. And if you look at the picture carefully, so is every developed and developing country in the world. People go everywhere, for all sorts of reasons. There are Britons living in all corners of the world, by their own choice. People come from everywhere here, and people from here go everywhere. That is just how the modern world works.”

“But, isn’t that a rather simplistic, naive way to look at the problem, especially from the perspective of an educated, Conservative, human rights lawyer?”

“I’m glad you brought up my exact job designation, because it explains exactly why I hold this view. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) and members of the Conservative party are entitled to their own views of course, but as someone who’s worked for over two decades defending the human rights of different people facing all manners of oppression in the name of national identity and so on, I feel…”

“But, isn’t it a rather weak argument to say that to be British is to be part of this multi-cultural society? Even when we have a clear idea of what being British means?”

“What does being British mean to you?”

“Well, today is National Cream Tea Day, for example. Not everyone will be celebrating with English Breakfast Tea, I presume.”

“Oh, you mean the tea we still import from India and China? With sugar that first made its way to us from the Caribbean islands?”

“We aren’t talking about history, after all.”

“Aren’t we? Is it really in search of a national identity that we risk a recession, as well as losing long-term investors? Does this quest to be free have something to do with being free now, or harking back to the glory and superiority we enjoyed as the British Em…”

“Now, Mr. Richards, this is hardly the sort of impertinent remark expected from a human rights lawyer! We here at Sit Up Britain only want to bring the truth to the people of Britain…”

“Even if it is an unpleasant, harsh truth?”

“Well, as you yourself said, Britain is known for its tolerance. London is one of the greatest cities of the world, if not the greatest, and has been so for hundreds of years. Leaving the European Union hardly makes us monsters. It just shows we’re brave enough to stand on our own, live by our own rules, and continue to prosper by doing what’s best for us.”

“We’re not monsters. Nor does the world, I hope, take us to be monsters. But, we have gambled with our financial security, a huge gamble considering we’re the fifth-largest economy in the world, in order to lead our country differently. This result does call for some sort of change in the way we do things. We have to look at our health, education, job opportunities, not to mention our foreign policies, differently from now on. When 52% people have voted for something on the basis of some argument, we have to listen to that argument. Though, an exclusionary form of national identity is completely invalid, considering the Angles, Saxons and others who came here and made what we know as Britannia were from modern day Scandinavia…”

“Really? So even English people…”

“Are actually Scandinavian, if you want to look back over a thousand years or more. And add Celtic culture and tradition to that, especially from Ireland and Scotland. And since 1066, that is, the Norman Conquest, there is a lot of French…”

“Now, Mr. Richards, we here at Sit Up Britain aren’t up for another of your history lessons! We just want the simple truth.”

“The truth, as Irishman Oscar Wilde said, is rarely pure and never simple.”

“Uh, then what is it?”

Inconvenient, as said by Al Gore.”

7:30 p.m. Surprisingly, Mr. Wallaker and I had civil conversation whilst making and having dinner. He said he doesn’t want people to suffer racist attacks because of Brexit, like agent Katzenberg has done. He even agrees on multiculturalism, and that present culture is our culture. But, he promises life in Scotland will be just as progressive, if not more. I could even write films for BBC Scotland as a job. I said, “Ooh, and get Danny Boyle to direct them!” but, Mr. Wallaker informs me Danny Boyle is from Manchester.

8 p.m. Shazzer called. Though she was unable to vote (living in California), she has signed petitions for a new vote on the EU Referendum. If there are 100,000 signatures or more, the government has to discuss petition. Will sign, though don’t know how to sign online petition, as surely signatures can’t be typed.

9 p.m. Told Jude about petition. Jude has been very busy, trying to calm foreign investors, telling them Britain is still going to rise financially, and this is only a temporary glitch. “I think I’ll go mad Bridge,” she said, sounding more broken-hearted than she did during the 2008 recession. Or when Vile Richard cheated on her with her young, attractive cousin.

10:10 p.m. Tom has been staying in France with his fiancé’s parents. Hasn’t responded to my texts or calls yet. Magda has been busy with the children while Jeremy has been facing press all day as a pro-Remain campaigner. She says she agrees with him, and supports him. Everyone sounds too agitated and confused to say anything about the subject.

11:30 p.m. Checked up on Billy and Mabel, sleeping soundly in bed. Watched some more news, checked #Brexit on twitter and decided to go to sleep, though can’t sleep. Mr. Wallaker is working late at his desk. Or avoiding me, I don’t know which.

I’ve finally had time to think about things independently, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

We made this choice. There must be a reason why the nation’s divided over this, and we need to consider both sides of the argument carefully. We need to be strong, and we need to make the best of whatever situations we find ourselves in. We can’t stop thinking of others, just because we’ve decided to think more about ourselves. Both Mr. Wallaker and me were in tears watching British montage of 2012 London Olympics, with the world synchronizing rhythm with Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”, playing in the background. And then Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, and Sir Laurence Olivier in Hamlet. Idris Elba in Luther, Andy Murray in Wimbledon. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. Harry Potter, Manchester United. There are so many things we’ve done, we’ve made, that the world has loved with us. Mr. Wallaker was telling me about the “All You Need Is Love” graffiti he once saw on a street in Mumbai, with a drawing of John Lennon next to it. Surely, what John Lennon said is what being British is?

 

Author:

Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

5 thoughts on “Bridget Jones Part 8: What Being British Is

  1. Superbly written! I’m working my way through these one at a time but I really enjoyed this one, in part due to its topical nature that hits on many subjects. Really wonderful 🙂

    1. Thank you! It was a real challenge (plus around 2500 words long!) but someone requested it, and I felt I needed to put it down before the topic cools in my head. Thank you very much for reading these!

      1. Thank you! I hope to write more (I’m doing a time-travel/fantasy thing now where she ends up in the Pride and Prejudice novel). I definitely recommend the original newspaper columns, which are easily available online.

      2. Sounds great! I hope to conclude my little fiction series in a day or so then squeeze a quick music post in before birthday/Ireland trip gets in the way. Summer thus far has been a whirlwind!

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