A funny thing happened to me the other day as I was walking across a blasted heath not far from where I live in North London.
I saw a woman standing by a fire. I was going to write ‘old woman’ and then I realised she was no older than me, and was possibly a good deal younger, as most people are. As I approached she held out a book, quite a weighty tome, and said: ‘I have come from the future with this book of secrets. Take it.’
Sadly, living in modern Britain has bred suspicion and cynicism in me, and I quickened my pace and brushed past her. After a few moments, I heard her shout: ‘Then I’ll burn the book.’ I looked back and saw her throw it on the flames. Then I went hurrying on my way.
A few hours later something made me go back. There was no sign of the woman. The fire had gone out, but among the ashes were the remains of the book. I saw that it was a volume in the New Oxford History of England entitled Brexit 2015- but the end date of the period it covered was lost, as was the author’s name and date of publication.
Gingerly I retrieved what was left of the volume, and found the opening sentences:
‘We can now see that the Brexit referendum of 2016 was the real fault line in English history. The previous year, David Cameron, a friendly, plausible prime minister, had won a surprise victory in the General Election. Unfortunately Cameron was also shallow, weak and careless, and rarely failed to put the interests of the Conservative Party before the interests of the country.’
I am now trying to piece together other passages, which I will post in this blog.