An ex-RAF mate who I hadn’t spoken to for forty-seven years told me a few weeks ago, “It will take another thirty years before this fkg business ever settles down, mate.”
The last time I saw him we were working on a Canberra bomber at RAF ST Athan in 1972. Metal repairs on the starboard wing, using pneumatic drills and carefully crafted patches of duraluminum. It was the last job I did as an aircraft engineer.
The SIB (forces Special Branch) arrived next day in a Ford Escort, wearing badly tailored suits and kipper ties, to take me to RAF Wroughton for the psychometric tests for my new life in civvy street, as arranged through the talent spotting of an RAF education officer (such Orwellian irony). But that’s another story. The cover story, which my mate on RAF St Athan Facebook knew, was I was going out of the service and back home. I explained what actually happened and I have still not heard from him again… I don’t think he could cope with the story.
I ended up working at the Morning Star, the Communist newspaper, and having regular supervision sessions in a Young’s pub in Smithfield Market with my excellent handler DCI (GF) of the Yard, the Soviet specialist. And that’s how I met Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Party Young Socialists annual conference in Skegness in 1973, when I found myself in the mad situation of being invited into a Trotskyist take-over to give the Communist Party viewpoint. And everyone was quoting Orwell, which made it even more surreal. (Mainly Homage to Catalonia, not Nineteen Eighty-four, which would have been more relevant if anyone had cared to see it!) I made my reports to Scotland Yard.
Skip forty-six years to bar La Barra in Finestrat, Alicante province, Spain; and a cameo scene in an odd consequence of the Brexit disaster begun by Prime Minister Cameron in 2016, supported by Russian interest, vulture capitalist money, Steve Bannon and the fascist international, and a number of extremely secretive data organisations.
I am working with my group, Veterans for Europe, coordinating the Twitter account @Vets4EU, allied to many other Remain groups campaigning for a People’s Vote – a second referendum to overturn a result which has been proven to be criminal, manipulated by foreign money and foreign strategic interests.
As the Brexit project heads further into total collapse, we have seen how the more fascist elements begin to take the place of the average Leave fantasists who are now dispersing. Yellow-jacketed extremists who never even knew what Brexit was – as they were more concerned with attacking racial minorites – now try to seek opportunities to scream at Remainers outside Parliament.
On the edge of this, as a UK citizen resident in Spain, I am aware that the British bar in Finestrat is a place with its quota of strangely pro-Brexit Brits and I now avoid it. I never used to like going there anyway. I used to only drink in the Bar Cantonet until he closed it for two months for a poorly advised “interior decoration” make-over which turned it into an end of the pier 1950s cafe with uncomfortable coloured wooden chairs. And he failed to get the stock of Estrella Galicia beer in… which was the ultimate end of civilisation as we knew it.
Today on the @Vets4EU Twitter team we have been following the Corbyn story (will he won’t he, as usual) and I had to come into the village to sort out a problem at the bank. Another Twitter team member took over but she had the plumber coming shortly (in the South West of England, and me in the Costa Blanca, that’s how we work on the team).
After going to the bank I quickly set up my laptop in the bar La Barra (pint of lager two Euros.) I gave the signal IHC and my team friend wrote YHC: You Have Control.
I wrote a Twitter thread on Corbyn and was then trying to prepare tweets on the #IrishBorderProtests which I have responsibility for promoting on our Twitter account.
Two Brits came in: routine customers at the English Serena’s Bar two hundred metres away. One a Scot who I know, and neutral on the whole Brexit business. And one other overweight late middle aged pink gentleman.
Without prompting, the Scot asked me how things are going on Brexit. I explained about Brexit being totally on the ropes. His friend sat there with his back to me but giving off vibes. I had a long conversation responding to questions about a second referendum, the extension of Article 50, the backstop, etc. After ten minutes, the Scot went to the toilet. His friend still had his back to me and I found it a little unnerving, so I made my fatal attempt to break the ice.
“When this is all over,” I said, “I just want to return to my quiet retirement with my four donkeys and planting my beans.”
The pink man stood up, and in his huge shorts and pink legs he looked the very embodiment of English gammon. He looked at me for the first time since they had come into the bar, and he screamed, “Keep your fucking ideas to yourself you fucking traitor!”
Hiis friend came back from the toilet and he motioned to go with him out of the bar, still stuttering incomprehensible cultish excommunications at me as they crashed into the door frame and left the bar.
Shocked Spaniards having lunch around me – most of whom I know – were OK with it when I explained.
“That’s Brexit,” I said and they nodded, uncomprehending. Yes, there had been something in El País about that, hadn’t there? Oh yes, the English problem. But it isn’t a proper civil war is it?
No, I reassured them.
“Good,” said Ignacio. “A million died here. We now have democracy.”
There is sequel to this story here, Pinky and Perky go to Benidorm