I was thinking of a scene in a film that I couldn’t quite place. In fact it might be in quite a few films. Two jumpy people, perhaps small-time criminals, are holding somebody at gunpoint and arguing. The argument escalates and suddenly, almost by accident, the gun goes off and kills the unwitting hostage. The small-time criminals’ life has suddenly become very serious. The camera pans to the one who wasn’t holding the gun as he gasps with wide-eyed incredulance “What have you done?”.
I was thinking about that scene because the chap in front of me in the queue at the bakers yesterday was wearing exactly the same expression when he saw me and asked…”What have you done?”. The mixture of disbelief, disappointment and Beleidigung which the media and politicians are displaying here was all rolled up into a 10 second scene at my local bakery yesterday at about 8:30. The literal translation of Beleidigt is insulted but it can be used in a softer sense. It’s about half way between being offended and just a bit sulky. A Yorkshireman would say “they’ve taken umbrage at Brexit”. Which is how I would describe the attitude that the press and politicians are taking here over the momentous decision.
Initally the coverage was entirely one-sided in the mainstream media. There was no background on Cameron trying to get concessions and putting off the referendum for as long as he possibly could. It was shown as a silly petulant decision so good riddance. This morning the journalists were having fun with the fact that there was no plan and that the two main political parties were in crisis. Hard to deny. But today a few articles popped up which started to put the blame on the stubbornness of the EU and in particular Juncker. Angie, or “Mutti” as she is nicknamed here, has already started softening her tones and said there is no need to be nasty. She is the queen of compromise and I am sure her buddies in the powerful manufacturing sector have been whispering in her ear that for every 6 Pounds the Europeans spend on Brit products, the Brits spend 10 Pounds on European products. So probably not the best move to restrict trade after all.
I still haven’t worked out how to answer the question “what do you think of the Brexit, then?”. So when the chap in the bakers asked me “what have you done ?” all I could do perform a dramatic shoulder-shrug and blow some air out of my cheeks. It wasn’t quite the Churchillian witty riposte I had had in mind but it best summed up my feelings.
I read last week that even though Church membership is falling, the takings via the Kirchensteuer (Church Tax) last year were the largest ever on record – over 11 billion Euros. I have a feeling that Germany views the EU a bit like they view the church. It’s OK that we all know it doesn’t really matter that much and produces a lot of hot air and humbug – but you just don’t stop paying your Kirchensteuer. Why not? Well, because, errr… you just don’t. Britain has done the unthinkable.
Now, I am signing off and going to watch England play football. I have a feeling that, even more so than usual, lots of people are hoping we will lose. Oh well, I hope England wins. I know it’s dangerous to hope but it beats thinking about Brexit for a couple of hours.