“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
The Hollow Men, a poem by T.S. Eliot, seems uncomfortably accurate today.
Article 50’s finally been triggered, with all the ‘excitement’ of a soggy continental breakfast at a Campanile hotel. (You should probably try one of those while you still can.)
Why such an anti-climax? This is a turning point. The biggest decision in our country’s history – since we first joined the EU, at any rate. Sound the irony klaxon! Why doesn’t anyone seem enthused about this any more?
The problem is that we spent so bloody long talking about the thing. By this week, the media was almost out of angles. Almost. The Daily Fail felt it’d be churlish to dedicate column inches to ‘serious European stuff’ while women still have legs. The final Brexit angle will now be immortalised as the upskirt shot.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Even the president of the European council, Donald Tusk, took the official letter as if he’d been handed a child’s crayon drawing. “It’s lovely, honey. Really it is. You did a wonderful job trying to colour between the lines. I’ll stick it on the fridge later, I promise.”
Frankly, this has all gone on long enough already. Watching both sides struggle through up to two more years of negotiations doesn’t appeal. It’s not that I’ve become apathetic, far from it. Remoaner ’til I die… from a lack of accessible NHS care and having to work until I’m 85.
I’m just… tired. Aren’t you? Everyone else is.
‘Make as little effort as possible’ seems to be the message on both sides. Nobody showed up for Teresa May’s letter-signing photo op. Boris is strangely quiet, ditto Gove and Farage. Ed Miliband didn’t even tweet about it. Jeremy Corbyn is quietly encouraging people to toe the party line – the Conservative Party line, that is. And where the hell is David Cameron hiding?
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
As much as the government wants to sweep Brexit under the carpet, nobody can be bothered to hold the broom.