Disclaimer: I should probably point out now that if I was to describe myself politically it would be as a bleeding-heart liberal. I am middle-class, well-educated and have lived and worked in mainland Europe. I voted to remain in the EU yesterday.
I am disappointed by the news we are all reading today. My Facebook feed and views of my friends led me to believe that the outcome would be different, but I am not disheartened. I am not worrying about my children and the world they will grow up in. And I’ll tell you why…
We live in a very small town on the edge of Dartmoor. The majority of the population is over 70. It is a sleepy, conservative (little and big C) place. It is UKIP heartland, where vote LEAVE posters abounded in very window, garden and hedgerow.
My two 3 year olds attend the local pre-school here. I chose this school as it appeared to me not to have changed since the 1970s. The assistants speak in broad Devonian accents and Shirley the leader has run it since about 1972. The uniform is yellow and brown.
It was a pre-school not unlike the one I had attended, indeed it appealed to me as it represented an idyllic view of my own childhood growing up in Devon. A place where you were surrounded by similar people, with similar stories and voices, where everyone knew where you were from and outsiders were regarded with suspicion and dread. A place where the family that ran the local Chinese take-away were exotic and strange. A place full of people incapable of seeing a world passed their own garden fence let alone Devon’s borders.
But that was then and this is now.
The seventies pre-school my children attend may have a retro uniform but it is more in-tune with the 21st Century than I could ever have imagined or hoped.
Of course there are the local children, raised on farms and small-holdings whose parents have never left the area and never want to. Children who will raise their own children in the same place their parents had. And that’s fine. Where you are from can define you, and that is no bad thing.
Only now there are more children. There is my son’s best friend Mark* a cute little afro-haired chap whose father is an aging white hippy and mum is an attractive African lady.
And Juan whose dad bursts in to school every morning shouting a sunny hello in his Spanish accent.
And Alexis, who my daughter told me had no voice, but simply doesn’t speak because her parents are Catholic Romanians who live in a community nearby. I explained to my daughter that Alexis can speak but perhaps she doesn’t understand so well. I now know from Shirley that Alexis and my daughter love to play with the doll’s house together, silently.
And David who does have a voice that flits between Polish (his mum’s native tongue and English (his dad is from Scotland).
And Poppy whose Dad is a hard-working farmer and whose mum is Thai.
If you live in a big town or city perhaps this will all seem inconsequential to you. But to me this is a sign of how the world is shifting. My hope for my children is that they will not worry about migrants (oh, how I loathe that word!), or foreigners, or those who are different from themselves. They won’t worry about borders and barriers. Preventing people from entering our country or taking back control.
All my children will see are their friends that they play alongside.
Friends from a small-town, rural, global, inclusive, melting-pot pre-school in the heart of Devon.
That is the future Mr Farage and I hope it scares the s*** out of you!
*These children are all real, but I have changed their names.