“What are your views on Brexit?” The inevitable question these days — as a resident of the UK — when I bump into a neighbor while taking my dog for a saunter.
The truth be known. I don’t want to talk about Brexit and who, in our village, is for or against leaving so we can put them into the categories ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to suit our personal tastes.
“Oh. I’m not very political” I mumble and try to drift past the partisan disguised as a fellow walker on the track.
“But you must have an opinion?” She mouths, staring me straight in the eye and deliberately stepping in front of me.
I perceive what she really means is “whose side are you on? And if it doesn’t match mine, you’re off my Christmas card list.”
So, for the sake of amicable relations — I am aware I’ll bump into her again throughout the year — I continue to deflect.
It’s not that I don’t have views, it’s a case of recognizing you just can’t talk to some people. Conversing with someone on the warpath about politics in England now is asking for trouble.
It’s like attempting a rational dialogue with a drunk or insane person. There’s no point.
“I’m just walking my dog” I remind the zealot who by now is scowling, but she carries on with her tirade.
Occasionally, she goads me, doing her best to extract my personal views and I know, by now, she must have fathomed our theories don’t match.
Later, having put my foot down and insisted I enjoy the last scrap of sunshine before the sky turns gray, I realize I don’t want to talk about Brexit with people who would agree with my thoughts either. Not if they are in fight mode.
Deflection, I note, is an art. I went to a rough school when I was a child. All the kids, bar myself, were divided into sides. They supported one gang or the other, and if you were on opposing teams, you could look forward to a black eye.
In the playground, much like the country path in our village, you were bound to meet a partisan looking for an argument. He or she would greet you with the words “whose side are you on?” And you knew, if you answered incorrectly, you ought to hold up your fists.
The first time, and each time thereafter, when which side I was on came into question, I said “no one’s. Fighting doesn’t work. I’m against it. I’m on the side of humanity.”
Happily, my tactic was a success, and I was left alone when fights broke out. I sat on the playground wall, opened my lunchbox, and snacked or read a book while other kids knocked each other around.
Armed with the memory of how I deflected angry kids all those years ago, I’m using the same method to deflect angry political enthusiasts, and so far, I haven’t got a bloody nose.
Copyright © 2019 Bridget Webber. All rights reserved