Aside from my angry little poem the other day, I wasn’t going to write about the so-called Brexit. What I need to say has been said by so many. I didn’t think I has much to add to the futile, raging debate.
There are approximately twenty – five minutes between our house and Marylebone. Last week, on that short journey, my partner was told five times: “go back where you came from. Go home.” (She is from Kenya by the way. Incidentally, it is not an EU country).
On the radio I listened to an elderly German lady in tears because she was afraid, losing friends and having dog shit shoved through her door. My mind and heart went to my granny, elderly, Dutch, living fortunately in a place that voted In. I admit I was not brave enough to listen; in tears, I switched the sound off. I, who am the first to argue that the difficult things are the things we need most to hear, could not bring myself to hear something so sad.
I thought in my naivety that I lived in a tolerant place. I am lucky enough to live in London – funnily enough, a place with the highest number of immigrants and yet a strong Remain vote. But where is the tolerance in the shouts my partner endured? Where is the humanity, when a person feels justified in plaguing an old lady with their hatred?
Several of my European friends and colleagues now live in a state of uncertainty, fear and… well… confusion. They are looking around themselves, training to read in the faces of passersby who wanted them gone. They are hurt, they are angry, they are sad.
I am not saying that everyone who voted Out voted on the basis of the immigration argument, and I would never presume to call someone a racist on the evidence of how they voted. But I think a lot of the Out campaign was based on fear, ignorance and hatred. And now racists think they have a stronghold in our country.
I am the grandchild of four immigrants: from Europe, from the Commonwealth. I am not white. I may be told to return to my place of origin (which, for the record, is Whipps Cross hospital). But I am British – and, not for the first time in my life, this is something of which I feel deeply ashamed.