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Do Look Back in Anger

Do Look Back in Anger

Imagine being able to have a conversation with a past version of yourself. Not in that sanctimonious Advice to My Younger Self way. An actual conversation. Yeah, so with the five-year anniversary of the Brexit Referendum coming up, I got in touch with the 2016 version of myself, all via a beta version of Amazon’s new retro nano-particle infuser, Chronovox. AND paid their premium rate for a transcript.

June 2021 me: Hey, how you doing man?

June 2016 me: Wow! I made it through another five years? Amazing. Get IN! Also fuck YOU, so-called ‘prognosis’. Again.

2021 me: Yeah, so look. The referendum’s coming up in your timeline. June 23rd, 2016.

2016 me: Don’t worry, I’ve totally got this. Protest vote. My Marxist headbanger mates are right. The EUs a capitalist...

2021 me: ... conspiracy, yeah. It’s a racket, a business cartel. They were really horrible to Greece...

2016 me: Like some bloody medieval guild, enabling bosses to drive down wages with non-union labour, they...

2021 me: Stop, stop. My head’s spinning. You’re giving me nostalt...

2016 me: What’s that?

2021 me: Nostalgic vertigo. God, it’s all coming back now. I remember those heady, righteous days. ‘One for all and all for one, brave Lexiteers dee-dum dee-dum...’

2016 me: ‘... have all the fun’. A shit rhyme that YOU MADE UP. Don’t you DARE start dissing Lexit. Because if you remember, and I DO because I’m you five years ago, you bloody LOVE being a contrarian on both sides. Lexit is the galaxy brain equivalent of ‘Free Palestine but they have to allow same-sex marriage’.

2021 me: Still planning to vote Leave then?

2016 me: Oh fuck yes. Not only is it the right thing to do but Leave stands absolutely no chance of winning. I get to be all authentic and edgy AND able to moan about the EU. Plus, let’s not forget it’s one in the giblets for David Cameron! God, that oily...

2021 me: Yeah, yeah. Oily turd. Non-executive spam-faced fuck. Glistening human polyp, whatever. Spoiler: he’s going to shit off about five minutes after the result is announced. Thereafter he’ll be spending his desultory working hours in a preposterous Wind In The Willows caravan. Fabricating his memoirs. Lobbying his Eton contacts in government on behalf of his Eton clients in snuff capitalism.

2016 me: ‘Thereafter’. Oh we’re William Fucking Wordsworth now, are we?

But hello, what, pause.

Why would Cameron ‘shit off’? Not entirely sure I like where this is going...

2021 me: It’s going Leave mate. Full English Brexit. 

2016 me: No.

2021 me: Yes. We have cast off the European yoke.

2016 me: No we haven’t!

2021 me: We have. We’re a Plucky Island Race again, like when we beat Hitler single-handed without America or Russia.

2016 me: Oh, sarcasm? You WERE, as we’ve just established, very much in favour of the Great Uncoupling. You were VERY fucking pleased with a) yourself and b) your clever triangulation away from Remainer Libs AND Beery Patriot Types. As you've just admitted.

2021 me: Sorry.

2016 me: Sorry? What do you mean, ‘sorry’? What happens now? You want me – you, us – to vote REMAIN? After all that pompous Lord Byron chuff about adversity being the first path to truth? Oh, or was it a Bob Crow quote? I swear you arsehole, you were just making it up half the fucking time weren’t you? Here I am in June 2016 and you want me to vote the same way as... as that lying shit Tony Blair? As that conker-faced fucking troll Richard Branson?

2021 me: Yes, please. I mean, yes please don't vote Leave. And... brace yourself.

2016 me: Oh, oh, what happens – do we what, crash out with a ‘shit deal’? Do we become all introspective and start a cultural civil war? Do we argue about which bits of our history should be suppressed in the name of patriotism? Does the Overton Window shift so far to the right it's actually off the fucking wall? Do we, I don't know, send gunboats to Jersey?

2021 me: Actually, all of that. But pay attention to those mewling catastrophists who are currently telling you that a Brexit vote will unleash a wave of Great British Racism...

2016 me: I thought we'd decided that was Project Fear or something. Project Woke. God, I hope that's disappeared – people who have no idea what ‘woke’ means declaring themselves to be bravely against it...

2021 me: Maybe put a pin in that for now. The headline here is that the mewling catastrophists were bang on. OK, we knew a Brexit would embolden the xenophobic oompah-lumpen but fuck me it’s about to go deep and wide. Brace yourself for a tsunami of empowered racism. All that hateful, gushing ‘Swarming Migrants’ tabloid agitprop? Turns out the signal really punched through the noise. Yeah, here come millions of internalised hostile environments. Random shitheads telling people they don't like the look or sound of to piss off back to where they came from, which is invariably here.

Brace yourself for a triumph of the stupid. The spiteful. The fist-hearted. 

2016 me: Hmm. We’ll see. For all I know, you’re in a completely different parallel reality. We are after all five years apart. My future might not be like your future. For all I know, this is my subconscious trying to fuck me up with some subliminal reverse psychology. For all I know – HANG ON.

If Cameron’s not Prime Minister who... oh what? WHAT? Did Labour actually get back in? Let’s all do the con-ga! Labour’s back in pow-er!

2021 me: Ha ha, adorable. I’m afraid Corbyn, socialism’s White Gandalf, managed to lose quite well in 2017 but then everything crumbled like a sandcastle. He’s long gone mate.

2016 me: So who is Labour Party leader in 2021 then?

2021 me: Honestly, it really doesn’t matter. It really, really doesn’t. The Tories got in with an 80-seat majority at the end of 2019. Ask me who's in charge. Go on. Ask me who the Prime Minister is.

2016 me: No.

2021 me: Yes.

2016 me: No.

2021 me: Oh, I’m afraid very much yes. And the Conservatives are like 15 points ahead.

2016 me: Fuckjumbo? Prime Minister? He’s.. but he’s a lying, duplicitous spunk-clogged clown. Does he turn into Francis of As-sodding-sisi in the next five years?

2021 me: No. He gets worse. Worse and worse. But he wins an election with the slogan Get Brexit Done...

2016 me: Oh. That’s quite good. Conveys a sense of weariness, as if even the people who opposed Brexit...

2021 me: Which is me, now.

2016 me: ... just wanted it over, like toothache or a wedding speech. What happens next?

2021 me: What happens in 2020?

2016 me: Yeah.

2021 me: Well, OK look. I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, nada bing, bada boom. But please don't shout at me, I'm feeling a bit rough after my second jab.

So. 2020. What a year, man! Half the Arctic caught fire, the other half started shitting lumps of ice the size of Wales. Britain has a record number of food bank users. The only political figure capable of shaming the Tories into free school meals turns out to be footballer Marcus Rashford. Half a dozen billionaires now control global economics. Populism’s divided the world into angry fiefdoms. Cops are murdering people on camera and getting acquitted. Riots. Still, by the end of 2020, at least Trump’s gone...

2016 me: ‘Gone’?

2021 me: Mm. He was 45th President of the United States.

2016 me: –

2021 me: You still there?

2016 me: How is that even possible hang on what ‘second jab’? WHAT ‘SECOND JAB’?

2021 me: Ah. Well on top of everything else, the whole world's been torn apart by the worst pandemic in a century. Fear and chaos. COVID-19 put everyone into lockdown. It's been surreal, honestly. Instead of funnelling emergency money into the NHS and local authorities, our government (which remains a peloton of cunts) simply gave billions to their Tory donor mates. Some horse-racing diva called Dido. The landlord of – oh yeah Matt Hancock’s health secretary! – Matt Hancock’s local pub. Capitalist leeches everywhere. Fuckjumbo was probably banging at least two of them. Half the stuff was shit, too. Masks were crap, PPE was the wrong sort. Stupid fucking Johnson even caught it himself...

2016 me: What's ‘PPE’?

2021 me: Personal protective equipment.

2016 me: Sure, sure. I think I'm beginning to understand now. I get it. You’re some artificially intelligent data harvesting... thing aren't you? ‘Pandemic’. ‘Lockdown’. Come on. ‘COVID-19’ is EXACTLY the sort of name a targeted algorithm would conjure up.

2021 me: I can assure you I am YOU. I am US. I am NOT AI.

2016 me: Oh, ‘AI’ is it now? Yeah, this is just a massive fucking wind-up mate. A con. This whole thing has been some sophisticated phishing expedition. You're going to ask for my PIN next...

2021 me: No no no no no NO. Don't huff off. Look, vote for Brexit if you want! Come BACK you arsehole, I need you to place a very complicated, very specific accumulator bet concerning the next five years! The odds are spectac... hello? HELLO!

2016 me: –

2021 me: Dickhead!

2016 me: –

2021 me: Fuck. I hate myself sometimes.




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