Wednesday, 29 June 2016


source: wikipedia

The beginning of last week was, for me, comically awful.  I returned from a weekend in Germany to find that my bank card had been blocked for no apparent reason, my phone had over-heated and died, our boiler had leaked, destroyed the kitchen ceiling and flooded the kitchen, and a hedgehog had made its way into our sitting room, nested under the arm-chair and messed in every available corner including all over my son's toys.  The house stank of mould, hedgehog poo and tears of rage.

source: wikipedia

By mid-week, I had a nasty and painful allergic reaction on my face, which made the areas around my eyes swollen and burning.  By the time I made it to the out-of-hours doctor at the weekend, when it had become almost unbearable, the doctor opened the consultation by saying 'I suppose you want me to make you look beautiful' - how's that for stupid and sexist?

But on Friday, the comedy took a tragic turn with the results of the referendum.  I can't find anything to laugh about this.  I don't even know where to start in expressing my distress - what a future for us and our children...  The rise of racism and xenophobia; the exploitation of voters through misinformation; the social, generational and geographical divisions revealed in our own country; the sense of betrayal felt by so many of our European counterparts; the hand-rubbing of the European far-right; the diplomatic implications for European harmony.  I'm not even thinking about the economic consequences any longer - the catastrophe stretches beyond the economic as a set of ideals are fundamentally threatened.  But of course, the economic implications will be suffered most painfully by those who have already been cruelly done-down.  It all hurts so much.

I, and many many friends and colleagues, are sending a letter to major European newspapers tomorrow, expressing our deep distress and sadness; our continued hope; and our ongoing belief in the idea of Europe, whatever the outcome. We have built our lives around an idea and an ideal of Europe.  We will continue to allow this idea to shape our lives and our interactions.


  1. Hi Hannah. In Australia we have had much coverage of the referendum and its fall-out. The unforeseen and not-understood consequences to those who voted to leave are especially tragic. What does History tell us? Why can't humans learn from the past? Why doesn't what happened in the chaotic decades of Medieval wars between states resonate now? Please write of the mindset and attitudes of those rulers who caused such misery then, and what is different between Then and Now. regards, John
    PS. When your allergic reaction has settled, I'd call in and tell your GP that his attempt to be jocular broke all rules. He (I assume it's a man) maybe doesn't actually get it.

    1. The ways we do and don't learn from the past have a history all of their own! Largely a pretty dispiriting one... But it would be a really fruitful line of enquiry. As for rulers who caused misery, in my current mood I feel dispirited still by exploitation (now more often economic and discursive than physical) by ruling powers.

  2. Hi Hannah
    In a Dutch newspaper (De Volkskrant), I just read the letter that you and your colleagues sent. THANK YOU! I tried to find the English version of the letter on the internet. I am sure many, many of your and my colleagues, both in the UK, and in other EU countries would like to express their support and add their signature.
    Have you published the letter online, anywhere? If not: can you please do this? If you do this on a site like, people can add their names, add comments, and maybe, maybe help you make a difference? Please?

  3. Hi - thanks for this. The letter is now online at