I’m still convinced my “Yes” bet’s going to come off

But by a few thousand votes, rather than the 5-10% I expected last week.

Most people will blame it on tears shed by Tony Blair while watching an Australian anti-Semite on a horse, but I’m also quite impressed by the housing crisis as a factor: when two or even three generations find themselves living over a long period in the same house (EU, British regions), then they may rationalise that as “better together (sharing a bed with our blood relatives)”, and in some cases that will in turn become the xenophobic “rootless people have no right to live, here or anywhere”, as an Andalusian barkeeper’s son turned Catalan patriot put it to me a few years ago.

I would quite miss being able to say I am British, because, as an expression of vacuity, it is one of the least worst nationalities in the world. It was not ever thus: without telling gross falsehoods, and to wind up the buggers, I used to inform Dutch collectivists that I was Irish (“Oh yes? Wonderful man, your freedom-loving Gerry Adams!”) and Dutch libertarians that I was English (“Oh yes? Wonderful man, your freedom-loving Maggie Thatcher!”), or vice versa. But as this century develops I can see that I’ll have to dye my hair green, get some diamond-iris contacts, and request political asylum from the Martians.

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  1. I hope you didn’t lose too many Euros on that. I was thinking of ploughing everything I don’t have into a No vote. At the time it was 1/7 but that’s not a bad APR for a fortnight’s investment.

    It was pointed out to me last night that were the vote to be Yes, us Lancastrians would lose our “geographical” centre of Britain. That is, if you cut out the outline of mainland UK on a piece of card, it will balance if you pivot in on a point just outside Brennand Farm, near Dunsop Bridge, Lancashire.

    Such is the drivel we talk up here after a few.

  2. http://www.strangehistory.net/2014/09/21/last-british/
    How do you avoid this kind of pain? Probably the best solution is to stick with nationalities that will survive. To be English, to be Scottish, to be Polish, to be Jewish is to become a Platonic form: these ideals, because in the end that is what they are, would survive even if the people who carry the name were to fail. To be British, to be Austro-Hungarian, to be Yugoslav, to be Soviet… Well, that is just asking for trouble, and perhaps well-deserved trouble. What did the grand-old nobles of Vienna feel in 1918 as they saw the beloved (and essentially decent) world that they and their ancestors had guarded for two hundred years collapse into a dozen squabbling ethnicities? What about the CCCP loyalists watching Balts and Ukrainians tearing down the hammer and sickle, deaf to appeals to the shared struggle with Nazi Germany (the Balts and Ukrainians had often, in fact, been on the other side)? Or what about Ambrosius Aurelianus in Britain, Aetius and Bonifatius in North Africa, or Stilicho in Italy, hands on their pommels, marching into a temple as the pillars holding up Romanitas were shaken out of their holes?

  3. One of my favourite books of last year was Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia by Max Egremont, which documents the erasure of Prussia, which clearly was a Platonic form in the eyes of many of Egremont’s sources, but which disappeared with a suddenness no-one anticipated.

  4. I must dig out your book – I enjoyed the novels of Theodor Fontane immensely when first living in the eastern Netherlands. There the Germans over the border were often referred to in Low Saxon dialect as Prussians, despite their having been that in name only to the southeast (Westphalia) since Napoleon met Blücher (nothing like a Prussian when you need one), and to the northeast (malarial swamp) since Flashman buggered up Schleswig-Holstein, and then de jure until 1871 and de facto until 1918.

    If the comparison holds up, and one looks at what happened to Königsberg, now might be a good moment to abandon London. Brace yourselves.

    If only the English, apart from being “the only nation without national dress”, lacked all the other stupidities, but I think they’re going to be adding rather than subtracting.

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