Is there a way to win?
There’s a way to lose more slowly.
It’s hard to escape this week the feeling that we’re all playing a role in an artfully directed film noir. The stifling heat-wave acting as a skillful metaphor for the stupefying complexity of Brexit; cheap fans recirculating hot air over the people recirculating year-old arguments; everyone hoping for the slightest breeze to bring relief.
Like the hard-boiled detective we stake out our mark, David Davis, watching the building across the street, looking for any clue as to what he’s up to in there, sweat on our shirt collars, a camera and a hip-flask our only companions. Slowly we’re starting to see the big picture. This isn’t a film with a happy ending. There are no goodies and baddies. Instead we’re caught in the cross-fire of two rival crime gangs; they hate each other, certainly, but that doesn’t mean that either of them cares for us.
In fact we might have the sneaking suspicion that we’re nearing the point in the plot where one or the other sends their goons to beat us senseless, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to us.
First there’ll be a scene where we can’t sleep. We toss and turn, entangled in the unpleasantly damp sheets of tedious negotiations, before heading to the sash window and looking to the sky for relief. All this heat means that the storm must be coming. We can taste it on the air and convince ourselves that we can hear the distant rumble of its thunder.
The director, of course, won’t allow the storm to break just yet. It as to wait for the climax of the film, when the McGuffin we’ve been chasing is almost within our grasp. That’s when the rain comes hammering down, and the drowsy daydream we’ve been living is violently washed away.
That’s when, torrents pouring down parched gutters, we must face whichever gang boss remains. First they’ll appeal to our reason, and ask us nicely to see things their way. If that doesn’t work then that’s when they up to stakes and the threats are unveiled.
Then we find out what kind of story this was. Whether it’s the kind where the hero dies, or has a clever plan to get out of it all. Whether there’s any sort of ‘happily ever after’, or even a beautiful friendship. Whether it’s just the kind where the hero has to accept that they’re part of an imperfect world, and try to find morality not in being moral, but rather in recognising that they’re not.
But we won’t know until the storm breaks.
Until then, how can one sleep or work or think in this insufferable heat?