Like so many of us, I find myself wobbling precariously to the tune of the arguments of the IN / OUT debate. Like a slightly overweight cat tight roping a garden fence, one could so easily fall to the left, no, the right, no the left…right…left…
I have some, though not a great, understanding of the intricacies and points being made. I can’t evaluate the financial implications of either side, nor can I ascertain which outcome will make us ‘safer’. I neither really like, nor fully trust the motives of many of the leaders of the arguments, nor do I want to devotedly follow a celebrity’s plea. I can’t believe the “facts” because nobody really knows, nobody can know. And I refuse to reduce the future of our nation to debates about immigration or unelected representatives, as important as these things are. What I can do is call on my largely reliable sense of what is going on and try to visualise the landscape into which I feel each side would lead us.
To land on the left, in my cartography-influenced vision, would be to land with an ungainly thud into the foggy, boggy territories of a Leave future. The fence would hide the cultural landmass and sunshine of Europe to the east while the vast, undulating Atlantic Ocean extends to the west. To fall to the right would be a gentler, softer landing into the more familiar, overgrown and mossy lawn of the stay-tus quo. Europe remains in sight, the Wild West playground of former explorers and voyagers (and Trump) largely obscured by the fence.
This ‘fence’, it’s less impenetrable of course than the Iron Curtain that snaked through Europe separating ideologies, but none-the-less it is a boundary. As I point out in my talks, prisons are the ultimate expression of ‘boundaries’. They keep certain people inside and protect the rest from them. An open park or garden, the countryside, they have looser boundaries and are more free for all, but also more open to abuse.
Then there’s the fat cat. Is that simply my sense of me right now, albeit not the rich banker kind? Or is it Britain, past its prime, no longer the lithe gymnast but a slightly paunchy, middle-aged version of itself, clinging to memory-inspired aspirations as it tries to cartwheel the bar of its greater past?
I guess I’ve already painted in words, the landscape into which I want (us) to fall. The EU is deeply flawed but so is the UK. So is the world. So for me the essential question is: do we as a nation want to be the Captain who abandoned the sinking Costa Concordia to save himself? Or do we want to live up to our well-deserved reputation as true Naval leaders and together, with our neighbours, navigate to safer shores the huge, struggling, peace-keeping ship of Europe with its precious cargo of people; people who are like us in essence and who want and need our help?