Which image is more cursed: the Union Jack being stripped from its pole in Brussels or Nigel Farage giving a thumbs up in front of his own portrait? Or perhaps it’s the shots of the impeachment trial that won’t end in conviction. Or perhaps it’s the bushfires as they encroach on the suburbs of Canberra.
Perhaps the answer depends on your country of residence. Just as the fires have slipped from the pages of the British press, Brexit occupies a small box on my Australian laptop, beneath the fire and brimstone but just above the tennis. Whilst the American newsletters I subscribe to mention neither fire, nor Brexit. Each to their own national concern.
But, to my country of origin for a moment. To Brexit. To the sounds and sights of the end of an era.
To a dismal rendition of God Save the Queen, sounding to remainers like less an anthem, more a dirge.
To livestream of a Union Jack-esque light display on the exterior of Downing Street accompanied by the soft yet insistent clicking of photography and then, after a minute of this, the voice of a journalist saying oh god.
To Britain’s lone European star, projected onto the white cliffs of Dover.
To David Cameron saying I knew this day would come, with all the courage of Pontius Pilate when faced with an opportunity to do the right thing.
To the interminable performance of Boris Johnson pretending to understand how anyone is feeling.
To the digital bongs of Big Ben striking eleven.
To a camera panning up to a lifeless piece of cloth that may or may not be a symbol of this great nation.
To actual footage of chickens coming home to roost.
And amongst all this, I am reminded of a conversation with a friend earlier this week. It was hot but we were indoors with a fan and wine and we weren’t bemoaning the state of the world but rather discussing my career (each to their own personal concern). And she asked me a question that was intended to be simple, but that I shall underline for you here as having larger implications for the year ahead, the years to come.
I drank rosé and stared at my hands and she said So what do you want to do? Do you want to just keep going?
A version of this post was sent by email on the 2nd February 2020 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.