Saturday, June 25, 2016
I promise not to go on and on about Brexit. Frankly, we're all still trying to figure out exactly what it means.
But I am depressed about it. It's as if the ground has shifted beneath my feet. I suddenly have the sense that Britain -- or England, at least -- is not the globally-oriented, international nation that I believed it to be.
For the past five years I've enjoyed thinking of myself as an immigrant to Europe. I suppose I still am -- geography doesn't change, after all, and I can still be in Paris in two hours on the Eurostar. But Britain suddenly feels smaller, and, yes, less hospitable. Brexit seems to have revealed something threatening in the national mood, and the mood in many nations with similar movements.
As David Axelrod told The New York Times, "There’s a fundamental issue that all developed economies have to confront, which is that globalization and technological changes have meant millions of people have seen their jobs marginalized and wages decline. And so lots of folks want to turn the clock back and make America, or their country, great again."
(Fortunately, the gist of that article is that a win for Brexit doesn't necessarily mean a win in the USA for Trump.)
I'm all in favor of the worker. But turning back the clock to an idealized period of earlier greatness, when huge segments of society -- and the globe as a whole -- were in fact marginalized or invisible, sends shudders through me. Those earlier periods were great only if you were white and straight and generally male, and stuck to your assigned gender roles.
It's as if I'm swimming, and a dark shadow has suddenly appeared beneath me, looming and unidentifiable. It could prove to be nothing, or it could prove mightily dangerous.
I wonder what Brexit will mean for all the people I interact with every day -- the young Polish woman in my French class, or the Portuguese cafeteria workers at school, or the Czechs at the cash register at Costa. If this vote makes me feel uncomfortable, imagine what they're thinking!
Oh well. On to other news.
The trash-can rebellion yesterday proved something of a non-event. I went next door and spoke to Mrs. Kravitz, and told her that our upstairs neighbors had bought new rubbish bins, which we now needed to put in our alleyway. As a result I would have to move her bins to her own alleyway. She tried to talk me out of it -- "the alley is yours, not theirs," she said, adding that she'd called our landlord to make sure that was true. (!) Regardless, I told her, we share a single house with our upstairs neighbors, and they're more entitled to the alley than she is, when she has her own alley that she simply wants to keep clear for aesthetic reasons.
(In other words, she wants us to store her trash on our property because it looks, well, like trash.)
"I'm very hurt," she said.
"I'm sorry," I said, and moved her bins to her alley.
So that's that. We no longer have to manage Mrs. Kravitz's trash. I probably should have done this long ago, when we first moved in, rather than continue the arrangement she struck with the previous tenant. Which is how we got here in the first place.
(Photo: The lawns surrounding Kenwood, on Tuesday.)