I’m fucking hopeful.

Last week, I was fucking terrified. This week, I’m fucking hopeful. Even after the Brexit. Here’s why.

This is the Britain I still love. (Copyright Ben Walshe)

So. Well then. We’ve voted to leave Europe. And we’ve all woken up to the next day and wondered what the future holds. To quote Stewart Lee, it’s like shitting your hotel bed as a protest against bad service, then realising you now have to sleep in a shitted bed.

And yet. I’m fucking hopeful.

I live in Wood Green, an area of London that was famously looted during the Tottenham Riots in 2011. Groups of people smashed in dozens of shops and stole thousands of pounds worth of goods.

Walking up the street the following morning was a scary experience. So much broken glass, so much debris. Burnt out cars and a collective sense of shock. It was like this across London, as we heard reports and watched as it seemed like we’d completely lost control. It was frightening.

And people came together. In Clapham, there was the Broom Brigade, turning up the next morning to help tidy everything up. In Wood Green, people helped raise funds for families and small businesses damaged by the rioting and looting.

The visual I remember is the post-it board. The Body Shop, along with most shops on the high street, had their broken windows boarded up. They called theirs the ‘Wall of Love’ and encouraged people to write positive messages on post-it notes. It got filled up multiple times.

Original photo here. Copyright @alanstanton_

I ran a comedy night at the Big Green Bookshop, which we decided to turn into a fund-raiser. We got our best-ever turn out, despite general nervousness and blazing heat. The place was packed to the point that the comedians were queued up outside, having to climb over people sat on the floor.

My point is this. As much as I believe in the stupidity of the British people, I also believe that the British people can be wonderful. We live on an island that has done some deeply awful things in its history, but has also done things and produced people that have continued to inspire the world over.

We have two ways we can move forward.

One is to become more isolated and afraid, turning in on ourselves and taking all the reactions and fall-out from the lies that Johnson, Farage and Gove told people and turning them against other people.

The other is to come together.

The amount of damage done is enormous and a lot of people will get hurt. And some of that hurt will be immense. Some people are going to be worse off and they can’t afford to be worse off. But community can help. Friends can help. People can help.

We need to look at our friends and our neighbours and support each other. We need to fix what has happened to this country. We need to listen and learn and support. We need to look at the reasons why this happened. Hatred doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens when people are frightened and angry and hurting and they want someone to blame. And liars who were good at talking were all-too-willing to take advantage of that fear and anger and turn it against the wrong people. We need to understand that and look at how we fix it.

We need to work out what the future will be and make it work. It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to need to start holding liars to account. We’re going to have to make sure that they don’t get easy rewards from creating so much damage to our country and our people. And we’re going to have to work to fix that damage.

We’re going to have to look at ourselves in the mirror, admit that we’ve fucked up, splash water on our face and start fixing it.

We’ll have to work out what to do when Scotland and Northern Ireland and Gibraltar decide that we don’t have a mandate to govern them any more. And we’re going to have to work out what to do about the economic powerhouse cities that do so much to fund this country now that they’ve been overruled and potentially damaged badly.

It’s not going to be easy. We’ve seen the worst of this country. Now we’re going to have to see the best of it. And the best of British can be very, very powerful when it has to be. We’ve a history of coming together through adversity.

We need to build together and we need to help each other. And we’re capable of it. We can deal with uncertainty and we can do that most British thing — finding a way to muddle through.

We need to remember what’s great about this country. Not the posturing, the flag waving, the hatred and the anger. But the way we can come together through adversity and be there for each other.

Right now, I’m with a lot of you in being scared and angry at what we’ve done. And right now, I might not fully believe everything I’ve just said in an emotional way.

But I will.

And that’s something to cling to. That’s something to hope for.

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