Dublin. One of the thirty five constituent capitals of the European superstate, one of the most northerly, part of the only land sharing a border with the failed state of the United Kingdom.
One of the tiny number of political refugees was in an unremarkable pub in the middle of the city. Although during his drinking and griping he would never let it on, there was no danger to political activists from the dictatorship. The political leadership was interested in preserving British business interests and the arena for opposition was hampered most by apathy. Nevertheless, Blaine Howards liked to live as if he were one of the great political exiles. Trotsky in Vienna. Friendlily sharing radical opinions, chatting about psychology, doing the occasional freelance journalism on British issues that impacted on European Ireland. He wasn’t especially old, but he felt old. The UK had no resistance, no opposition, no anger. It had television, and Tesco, and high-speed internet. Even Northern Ireland, which, growing up, he could never have imagined being so apolitical, was content with the boring, functional, non-democratic self-determination. And the world? The world looked on with disapproval and disdain but there were no bombers over Cheltenham, no resolutions at the new, Britainless, Security Council, no active efforts for any form of restoration.
Faced with such abandonment, he had come toIreland. He had drank more than ever before, since the best place to hold court anywhere in Europe was in a drinking establishment. He moved around, but was well-known amongst the Dubliners. Occasionally he’d run into British tourists and have blazing rows about them giving up on freedom. Sometimes he’d go down to Cork where a friend of his, another self-imposed exile, lived. So much anger lived in him, that he’d bark in harsh Ulster tones even when there was no real reason to be combatitive. What he lacked was any good outlet for the fury he felt at his lost land. What had been lost more than simply popular rule was the idea that one’s voice had any capacity to speak; even if, as that seemingly inevitable end had approached, the vox populi had been weaker and weaker, it had never seemed mute. People had dared to shout themselves hoarse, they had reached the end of their tether and demonstrated it. Howards didn’t have anything of the like now.
As time passed, he became a sadder, scarier figure, a more drink-fuelled man, a man growing incoherent and unjustified in his desires and demands. Another man lost by a land that stopped listening and lost its voice. Who let a foolish ultimatum lead them into greater foolishness. Who let real fears get swallowed up by the unreal, and panic overwhelm their choices. Perhaps the diaspora was small, was minor, but the people sent into exile from the place they loved, felt safe, felt vocal, was a greater number. They were pushed to the margins, the fringes, and it was only the few like Howards who saw that expressed physically. We pushed exile on many souls, for the sake of our selves.