Blue Passports

23rd June 2016. Independence Day. Brexit means Brexit, what a time to be alive. Article 50. Strong and fucking stable.

I’m a proud Englishman me, a proper patriot. Flag of St George tattooed on my right arm, British bulldog on the left. Shaven head, face like a haunted omelette.

We’re taking back sovereignty. Pull up the drawbridge lads, we’re full. Go home. Born in Royal Leamington Spa you say? No mate, I’m not a racist, I love a curry.

No no, not that kind of sovereignty. Frustrating the will of the British people. Fucking traitors, hang ‘em for treason. Land of hope and glory mate.

Hard Brexit, no quarter. We’re sick of experts. If Nigel says it’ll be fine that’s all I need. Rees-Mogg for PM, champion of the working class.

Exit bill? We’ve already paid our exit bill. Spirit of the blitz. One World Cup and two World Wars. Fuck off Merkel. Face like she’s chewing a wasp. Get back in the kitchen love.

Shut it Remoaners. We don’t need a deal, we’ll go it alone. A return to the days of empire, putting the Great back in Great Britain. Traitors, fucking snowflakes. Frustrating the will of the British people.

Sod the refugees, they’re terrorists anyway. No women and children see? Why don’t the cowards stay home and fight? Send them back, fuck ‘em. British jobs for British workers, no room at the inn.

Blue passports. Brings a tear to the eye, what a result my son. Makes you proud to be British. £350 million for the NHS? Economic impact studies? Frustrating the will of the British people mate.

Blue passports. Blue fucking passports.

Jet From Gladiators

I hold the teacup gently, rotating it slowly with my fingers to learn its secrets. The low winter sun streaming into the study gives away the translucence of fine porcelain, but only after I use a soft cloth to wipe away a decade of dust. It had sat neglected on the shelf above my desk ever since the day that we cleared mum’s house. I don’t know why it caught my eye today, or why I felt the urge to take it down from the shelf.

Clearing the house after mum left had been a sobering task for all of us, and very few of the bizarre array of artefacts that she had collected in her final years escaped the skip. The stupid cup had only escaped the cull due to a pang of emotion, dredged up from the far recesses of my mind. Bloody idiot. I distinctly remember how proud mum had been when dad bought the tea set home. I was only six years old, but the excitement emanating from the pair of them was palpable. Chinese porcelain! In our pantry! My word, what a time to be alive. In the intervening forty two years I’ve learned that it’s not normal to whip one’s self into a frenzy over kitchen goods, but for mum it was quite the status symbol. I never did find out where dad got it from, but with dad it was sometimes better not to ask.

Over the years the tea set dwindled, cups and saucers falling victim to clumsy hands, excitable dogs and children acting out Buck Rodgers fantasies. The day that dad dropped the teapot was particularly harrowing, although I learned three new swears that have stood me in good stead throughout my adult life.

The fragile piece of bone china in my hands is all that survives, an anchor for so many bittersweet memories. A hairline crack, barely perceptible, runs perpendicular to the ornate handle, and a small chip at the edge is stained brown where the bare clay has soaked up years of piss-weak tea. The rich blue cloisonné glaze has started to fade, but the carefully rendered figures of dragons are still visible, brilliant and red.

A glance at the base of the cup provides a small surprise – Armitage Shanks isn’t the first thing you expect to see printed on period Chinese ceramics – but it doesn’t matter. It was real to mum, and dad never let on otherwise. An authentic piece of Tang Dynasty earthenware couldn’t mean more to me than that tiny cup. I place it gently back on the shelf above my desk, giving it pride of place next to the signed photograph of Jet from Gladiators.

I don’t think about them often these days, but I miss them both.