Back in Sweden now, the long way round – Hull-Rotterdam ferry, then rail from there to Stockholm via Osnabruck, Hamburg, Copenhagen. It was tiring (with suitcases) but far more pleasant than by air. It gave us a super day in Amsterdam. (I liked our canal guide’s statement: ‘Dutch isn’t so much a language as a speech impediment.’) Maybe if they hike up the cost of aircraft fuel they’ll bring back ferry routes from north-east UK to Norway or Denmark. Overland (and sea) gives you the real impression of travelling.
Everything on the way confirmed my anti-Brexit views. So did every foreigner we talked with. They think we’re mad. But I fell to musing: what if the Brexiteers turn out to have been right all along? Suppose that, in fifty years time (Jacob Rees-Mogg’s latest estimate of the time the advantages may take to get through: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/jacob-rees-mogg-economy-brexit_uk_5b54e3b5e4b0de86f48e3566?bk8&utm_hp_ref=uk-homepage&guccounter=1), we really do become the powerful, self-confident, global – possibly imperial – power the Moggs of this world are looking forward to? Won’t he and his kind be lauded in the history books as national heroes?
In which case they’ll obviously need statues of them erected inside or outside Parliament. And that’s when more doubts begin to creep in. Most of the public statues we have already of great statesmen and women are of pretty normal-looking – even distinguished – kinds of people. How will the sculpted versions of Farage, Mogg, Johnson and Gove fare alongside them? A frog, a comic toff from the Dandy, a demented teddy-bear, and a trout who looks as if he’s being sexually penetrated from behind. I don’t know why they all look so ridiculous, or whether it’s fair to use their physical appearances against them in this way. Is there a connection between looking silly and acting silly? If not, nature has clearly dealt them a duff hand.
It’s more likely that their place in history will be on the side of the ‘villains’ and (hopefully) losers; not the real villains, of course, the Hitlers and Stalins and Margaret Thatchers, but the deluded patsies who often do more damage than the deliberate nasties – men like Neville Chamberlain, in reputation at least. (If you’ve followed this blog scrupulously you’ll know I think this is unjust.) Their physiognomies – like his – will probably make them figures of retrospective fun. I don’t envy them this. Historians try to be fair, but it may be an uphill task in the cases of these four.