Banners at Macclesfield democracy rally

It's coming up to the 2nd anniversary of my retirement and already I can't imagine going back to work, or at least working for someone else. All those cliches are right. Retired people are so busy they can't understand how they ever had enough time to work.

That has certainly been true for me. I have been so busy, learned so much and met so many interesting, new people that it is certainly as fulfilling as my previous employment. The only draw back is that my new activities cost me money rather than earn me money.

Unfortunately I have not been able to relax and enjoy myself as much as I could have. The state of the country saddens me to the point of mental distress. In many ways the last two to three years have felt like a slow anticipation of bereavement, rather like I felt when my first husband was in the later stages of his terminal illness.

You may think that it is shocking to compare the political crisis in the UK arising from the Brexit vote with the death of a much loved, real person. But I don't think it is. You are trying to prepare to lose something you love while hoping the worst won't happen. Somedays there is hope to cling to, you are confident that a cure will be found, on others everything is bleak and you wish it would all stop.

For a while developments in medical technology and drugs outpaced my husbands illness and he survived, even appearing to recover, after several brushes with death. Although his condition was on a general downward trend it had been both comforting and stressful to think there may always be just one more chance. I don't subscribe to the concept of rebirth either for people or countries.

So, I've been out on the street campaigning and like most other anti-Brexit campaigners I've been asked why I want to "do my country down". The media and appeasers for Brexit say the "Remainers" don't understand the Leave voters while failing to spot the irony in this accusation! Maybe neither "side" understands the other because the concept of there being two sides is wrong. There are multiple views all round.

One of the Brexiters' argument for why we need not be worried about Brexit is a bit like a champion athlete abandoning his/her training schedule because they are already the best and expecting to continue winning. 

To be honest, I didn't really know what being British was until I moved to live abroad. I didn't go very far or to anywhere very different. I moved a few hundred miles south east to the centre of the Netherlands. Similarly I didn't know what being European was until I began working for a US company in an international team including Americans, Europeans, Indians, Australians, Chinese and more.

If you are immersed in something it just "is", you don't know any different. You tend to assume it is the only way to be; it's normal. It is not difficult to start believing that it is the best there can be, especially when aided with myths and legends of the past. In truth, some of the things may be "the best" but others are definitely not. If you stay in one place you only get one perspective. You have to move to change the angle of vision and that is as true for culture and national identity as it is for scenery.

By living away and subsequently by working in multi-national teams I discovered what others admired about a British contribution and the quirks they identified as national traits which I had thought personal to me. I found out how much I was a product of my homeland. It was the same for all of us: our assumptions, preconceptions and evaluations drew on our backgrounds but to work together we had to recognise this and listen to each other to avoid misunderstandings. 

In the Brexit debate much has been made of the Anglophone world and the assumption that there are more similarities between the UK and it than there are between the UK and Europe. Not only does this ignore the local languages of Scotland, Wales and some in Northern Ireland (and maybe Cornwall) but it assumes that all native English speakers have the same culture, views and values. In my experience this is not true. Whether the supporters of Brexit like it or not, there is a strong mutual interest across the European nations, a shared history and culture and an underlying common appreciation of social democracy and responsibility for the vulnerable in our society. 

At least there was until people who already have more money and power than they could ever need realised they could get more by persuading those who complain they have little money and no power that they could gain both by blaming the weak, vulnerable and those in anyway different for their problems.  I've lost count of the times I've been told we can make Britain Great again, we won two world wars and used to have an empire. If we were still in the glory days of empire, I'd bet not one of the people who make the claim would have felt rich or empowered. For much of it most would not have had a vote.

Just as with my late husband, I keep trying to persuade myself that death can be continually be delayed, but as I come the end of my 2nd year of retirement at the end of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, fighting for what I see as the survival of a civil society, which values and cares for the vulnerable, the unfortunate and the minorities and which rewards workers with respect and fair pay, I fear that the third decade will see an end to the state in which I was born and continue to live, the new blue passports will not sport the grand tile United Kingdom and the people who were deceived will suffer the consequences.

As always, I hope I'm wrong and we can end this madness before it does more damage.