They call us the ‘cultural elite’ and accuse us of being out of touch and living in a bubble. We are the novelists, the arts advisors, the journalists and university professors. We work to ceaselessly to transform the culture of this benighted country and we feel threatened by the backlash against us.
We are the educated, the better informed and the socially aware. We believe in the truth of our facts. We must not let the populists and rabble rousers get us down.
Here is a guide for you to maintain your mental wellbeing during this challenging period:
1. Embrace Europe
Now is the time to embrace everything European. You do not feel ‘British’ any more. Although you may have no knowledge of politics in any other country, you don’t read any foreign newspapers, you are not a member of any Europe-wide organisation and you were never very good at languages, you feel truly European.
You can embrace your newly found European identity with ease. Simply imagine Europe as the country which excludes all the things that you hate about Britain and live there in your imagination. Populate it with people like yourself and enjoy the café culture of your mind. Go further by learning the names of all the Presidents of the EU. Discover the hidden delights of the inner workings of the Commission of the European Union and watch in wonder how they pass regulations to like-minded people in the European Parliament for approval.
Europe is where you deserve to be when your country has let you down.
2. End bad relationships
We all know that ending a bad relationship is the best thing for everyone. You will know family members, old school friends and perhaps, even some work colleagues who voted for Brexit. Continuing these relationships is not good for your mental health. If you still have friends who do not understand that it is the European Union that provides us with pre-packed sandwiches, medicines and aeroplanes, it is time to say that enough is enough. Those in denial are putting their entrenched beliefs above a meaningful relationship with you.
List all your friends and family who say that they ‘just want us to get on with Brexit’ and write them a ‘Dear John’ letter. To your friends: explain that they have made you cry at the loss of your newly found European identity; that you were pondering about working in Barcelona, at some point, and now you can’t even bear to think about it.
To your parents: tell them that you are sick of their lies about liking foreign people that they meet on holiday; that they should have voted for their children; that they may be dead soon anyway and that you can no longer consider yourself a child of xenophobic bigots.
If they really love you, they will understand that they are responsible for your pain and show remorse by supporting a ‘#PeoplesVote’.
3. Guilt is good
It is understandable that you feel guilty about being British. Britain has been responsible for the slave trade, colonialism, rowdy tourists, appalling food and now Brexit. You feel personal guilt for the actions of previous generations. You wish to distance yourself from your fellow countrymen (and women) who believe in the arrogant illusion of ‘British independence’.
Whenever you first meet someone from another country, apologise quickly so that they don’t get the wrong impression. For example, if you meet a businessman from India, express your sorrow for the Amritsar massacre and point out that Britain has a large overseas development budget to help poor countries like his. If you meet someone from Uganda, show them that you are horrified by ‘modern slavery’ and demonstrate some dancing in the local style.
Although you weren’t born during the British Empire and no one has proposed to reintroduce it, expressing endless shame shows what sort of person you are.
Make de-toxification part of your everyday routine to live clean. You can flush unseen poisons out of your body by eating certain foods and avoiding others. This habit nourishes your sense of wellbeing and gives you something to talk about when meeting friends at a restaurant. Start by reading food blogs to identify your personal list of food intolerances. Then, try a range of eating disorders to find out which one is right for you.
Some people start by buying organic food, then progress to a milk and gluten intolerance. This can lead to a diet that is ‘free from’ taste itself. Others go straight into a vegan diet, with the occasional lapse into bacon sandwiches after a bottle of wine consumed when watching Love Island. Advanced practitioners have developed ‘Virtue-food’, where food is blended with symbols of moralism to create a new range of smoothies. Try it yourself by blending kale with printed copies of #MeToo tweets; mix essence of pandan leaves with ‘Trans women are women’ stickers and fuse hemp seeds with a spare EU flag.
Purging your body of toxins helps to empty your mind of impurity.
5. It’s ok to feel angry
It’s ok to feel how you feel. It is even better to tell everyone else that they are responsible for your feelings. The support for populism, Trump and Brexit has understandably made you feel sick and angry. It’s fine to tell people that they are ignorant and stupid, but don’t stoop to their level.
New terms have been invented which enable you to express your disgust and contempt without appearing like a bad person. For example, express animosity towards older men by using the term ‘gammon’. This is analogous with calling them an ignorant pig, without appearing to be an un-empathetic person. When expressing contempt for working-class people refer to ‘white van man’ and use ‘Daily Mail reader’ for people from the suburbs and the smaller towns.
Directing your vitriol at the right people in the right way provides a therapeutic release.
Be angry to remain calm.
6. Go Carbon Zero
It is right to minimise your impact on the environment. Although the predicted ‘tipping point’ for catastrophic global warming is pushed back year-on-year and never seems to happen, it might take place whilst you are still alive. If it does, you will want to tell your children that you weren’t responsible.
Re-imagine your life without fossil fuels and aim to reduce your carbon footprint to zero. Start by removing anything that is made of plastic from your house. Don’t forget nylon and polyester. Then, clear out anything that was made of or transported using fossil fuels.
Contact manufacturers and ask them how each component was made. Was a power source other than wind or solar used in their construction? Were any components carried on diesel-powered ships or kerosene-powered aircraft? Once your house is carbon-neutral, move onto your place of work, local pubs, cafes and finally, your neighbour’s house.
Find redemption in the eyes of your children by going carbon zero.
7. Re-live history
Historical re-enactment is becoming all the rage – join in! Anniversaries, such as the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, are an opportunity for women to show that they are suffering as much as women from a century ago.
Nowadays, women may have the vote and play a full and equal role in public life, but they have to endure the wandering eyes of lecherous men and they are forced to watch adverts which show unrealistic body images.
The historic struggle for justice is not over! Dress up like Emily Pankhurst! Wear women’s suffrage ribbons! Clothe yourself in the struggles of our heroes by wrapping yourself in their oppression. This enables you to imagine yourself as someone who is re-writing the course of history itself. It feels great!
History is made by those who re-invent it for themselves.
8. Expose the hidden danger
As a cultural professional, you have a special insight into the character and soul of your fellow citizens. In the Guardian, you have read articles about how dark forces direct the thinking of unsophisticated people. With your own eyes, you have watched tweets describing the un-precedented rise of hate. This provides you with an unrivalled and informed understanding of people who are different to you and the danger that they pose.
Some people have never denounced Islamophobia, opposed Brexit or applauded Feminist actors. Ask yourself what they are hiding? When they make off-colour jokes, you understand that they are normalising hatred through humour. When they challenge statistics produced by experts, they are replacing incontrovertible truth with emotionalism. When they hang their English flags outside pubs and council houses, it reveals their secret desire for fascist terror.
Create a heightened sense of danger, it is the first step towards making the world safe for us again.
Fight back, don’t let them win! And, most of all, look after yourself.
© Andy Shaw, 25th November 2018