So, a little over three weeks since Boris Johnson hailed his post-Brexit deal as a huge success, can we all agree it is anything but?
Just ask the fishing industry.
The photographs from the ghost town of Peterhead’s fish market last week were absolutely heartbreaking.
We are now being told families who have worked the seas for generations across the UK stand on the brink of oblivion, unable to get their catch to market in the EU.
Instead, thousands of pounds of precious seafood has been rotting at ports, unable to escape the tangle of red tape this deal has imposed.
Brexit was going to give us all – but especially our fishers – a better brighter future. That’s what Johnson promised. That’s what Nigel Farage, cheerleader for this fiasco, promised when he sailed up the Thames in a trawler. Notice he’s not saying a lot about it now.
And as for Johnson, there are vague mumblings about teething problems and compensation. My breath shall not be held.
Every day we hear of more doom and gloom, more catastrophes brought on by Brexit.
Cheese merchants, wine dealers, road hauliers, even musicians who will be denied visa-free touring in the EU, have a new horror story to tell.
Basically, anyone who has dealings with Europe is waking up to the harsh reality of being caught in a Kafka-esque tangle of bureaucracy and shut doors.What else do you need to know about the shambles than the fact Dutch border guards now confiscate your ham sandwich as being barred from import?
And just this week, it has emerged firms wanting to do business in Europe have been told by government officials they should set up EU-based companies to get around the nightmarish border issues.
So, to get access to the European single market we just left, you have to shift a chunk of your business – and jobs – to within the European single market we just left.
Isn’t Brexit just brilliant?
It would be easy to allow schadenfreude (are we still allowed to use European words?) to creep in.
After all, some of the industries suffering the most from Brexit are those which clamoured the most for it to happen. But they were lied to, fed a string of untruths and wishful thinking, just to further some right-wing, flag-waving, fantasy agenda.
Now we are watching businesses go to the wall, livelihoods disappearing, despair creeping in. And just wait until we see the impact and cost of ordinary people trying to travel to Europe for holidays if normality returns.
There is even talk in some quarters about eventually the UK finding a way to rejoin the single market in future. (I shall refrain from pointing out Scotland has a shortcut to that).
You can always find comfort in the wisdom that this, too, shall pass. But I fear this mess will be around for a long time.
Meanwhile, the cost will be borne by those who can least afford it, while its architects profit unscathed.
Sartorial mixing –minus the elegance
News of clothes retailers facing their biggest slump in 20 years is sad but hardly surprising.
When you’re in the grip of lockdown, the last thing on your mind is some new togs.
To be perfectly honest, I have basically spent the past 10 months at my work in T-shirts and jeans. Bought new clothes? I can’t even remember the last time I ironed something.
I mix it up a bit. Some days I will wear a Stonehaven Midsummer Beer Happening T-shirt (today’s is the 2015 iteration), other days my Doctor Who collection.
Occasionally I’ll step out with a polo shirt, and if I’m doing a Zoom interview, I might even put on a nice shirt. I just need to remember not to stand up in my scruffy jeans – especially the ones with the rips that weren’t put there by a designer, just the passage of time.
I am now so craving the chance to dress things up a bit that for an online Burns Supper/whisky tasting on Saturday I clambered into my full, formal kiltwear – bow tie and everything – ready to sit on the couch in my own living room. Mrs B said I looked like I was going to a wedding, but any excuse.
Hopefully, though, it won’t be too long until the vaccine works its magic and we’re all back to as normal as we can be. And when we are, one of my first missions will be to head into a shop to buy something new to wear – including a pair of new, unripped, Levis.
Saturday morning fever doesn’t rock
I’m keeping my chin up during lockdown, really I am, but sometimes the boredom bites hard.
Take, for example, my way of idling away Saturday morning. I shaved off my beard. Well, it was something to do and I was tired of the same face staring at me in the mirror. The result of my new look… you’re never going to see me and Penfold from Danger Mouse in the same room.
So, with my fresh face, I have planned my next adventure for a week off in February. I’m going to declutter cupboards.
Ooh, the rock-and-roll lifestyle I lead today.