Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Not waving but drowning: how BREXIT landed me in hospital

Down in the depths, Boris and his sirens have slunk into the shadows.

'There is no plan,' they say in unison, sniggering behind jagged and yellowed teeth. 'Now you're down here, you just have to be bottom feeders along with the rest of us.'

There's something nasty on the seabed. It's pulling at my ankle and I'm out of here. Millions more rise in a mass of bubbles towards the light and up to the surface to await rescue. But no-one comes so we band together to make a human raft.

It is what it is and we have to jettison hate and anger and reach dry land, by paddling together.

On the morning the referendum results came through, I was attached to a heart monitor in A&E. The hospital was full of it, the staff had been listening to the news all night.

As I was wheeled up to the coronary care unit, the nurse in charge was upbeat.

'I voted for out,' she told all the patients, as if we should be thanking her personally for taking us to the brink of disaster and beyond.

'I really didn't think it would happen. But, wow, now it has, now it has!'

A student nurse shook her head as she attended to my stickers and wires behind the curtain around my bed. She was livid.

'That's my future,' she said. 'I just can't believe it.'

Neither could the young doctors, who greeted the joy of the health care assistants with long faces.

I couldn't believe it either. Here I was, hooked to a machine, in a Dystopian world where my own future and that of the country was stuffed. I had moved from England to live in Jeopardy. Had someone stepped on a butterfly a few millions years ago?

Rewind to the previous night and I'd posted a picture on Facebook of an empty pub and the results coming in on the telly:

On Midsummer's Eve, we're in the pub listening to the Referendum results show. We might just have to stay up all night. On Midsummer's Day we could all be part of a short story called A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury.

Seconds later, as the results from Sunderland came in, I felt suddenly unwell, with chest pains and a numb, heavy sensation shooting down both of my arms. It took a good hour for an ambulance to arrive and I was carted off to hospital.

The next day, we were in that chaos theory and time travel story and I was right in the thick of it.

My own build up to Brexit has been accompanied by the worst few months my Larkin-like family has ever had to face. My lovely, kind, compassionate sister died suddenly in March, my dear old Dad slipped away in April and then, last week, my talented, smiling nephew died following a fire-related incident at Glastonbury.

Me, I'm alive, with an angiogram showing coronaries clear as radiating and beautiful tree branches, and being instructed to rest. It appears my recent bereavements have had an abnormal stress response on the heart. The condition is called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and is more commonly known as broken heart syndrome.

So my own reaction to the news about Brexit has been muted, out of necessity. I am terribly shocked, but more shocked and saddened about what's going on with my nearest and dearest. Hold them close, they are all that matters.

And when the dust settles, as indeed it will, we must face the fact that, whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. We have to make the most of a bad situation. The sun still rises in the east, the honeysuckle still exudes its warm and heady scent, even when a dead rook lies at the roadside.

This morning, the Dorset landscape I love is all washed out but it's still there.
We can blame the politicians and media all we like for creating the backdrop to this mess. But it is what it is. We have to heal this broken country, together. It's all we can do.

There is love and goodness to be had all around us, as the Crowdfunding appeal set up by a stranger for my nephew's funeral shows. We have to believe in the good of humanity, otherwise there would be no point in carrying on.

Peace and love and stuff.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Take care Maddie - tough times indeed.

  2. M, I'm so sorry to read about the terrible things that have happened to you and your family over the last few weeks. Sending you lots of love xxx

  3. The world stinks...We've just left the (symbolic?) garbage mountains of Corfu to escape to Paxos for a few days. Everything is topsy-turvy, and your posting is a timely reminder that we must all pull together. My sincere condolences for your recent sad losses - and a speedy recovery to you, Maddie.

  4. Deepest sympathy to you on your losses, Maddie. More grief than one should have to cope with; it always amazes me how these things come in threes. As for BREXIT...disaster! as my Grandmother used to say, "What IS the world coming to?"

  5. Very sad to hear about the losses in your Larkin like Family. The Larkins are pretty resilient though, aren't they. :-) In any case the very best for you, your heart, your recovery and your family. I live in Scotland and here things don't seem to have changed as dramatically as they have in England (in terms of the mood and sentiments that get expressed).


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