Where my DNA comes from Sinn Fein and the IRA are seen as one and the same so he is known in this household as my pal in the IRA. Certainly he is proud of its actions – he celebrates the killing of British soldiers, something his forebears took part in. But, given the timing of the arrival of my family in his home county of Donegal (the 1650s), we know not to go chat about such matters. He knows that I wear an Ulster rugby shirt and we have much else to discuss anyway. Yesterday, he called to tease me about problems with Brexit, kicking off with Dutch customs officials seizing the ham sandwiches of British lorry drivers.
For my IRA pal, Brexit was always going to be a disaster for Britain, a final humiliation for the wicked Imperialists which, he hopes, will lead to a United Ireland. He knows that I view Brexit with confidence as I have faith in the country in which I have grown up and its people and unlike the Irish of today, of whom Collins would be ashamed, I think we Brits have no need to be taking orders from masters overseas. But he started with his tease.
I countered at once with other stories from France about how legitimate shipments of British caught fish were being turned back because a 1 tonne box was 1 kg overweight or because the paperwork had a missing full stop. Perhaps the IRA man thought that I was realising the error of my 2016 vote and that the Mrs and I should have listened to those clever, non-xenophobic rich folks in London after all?
I put him straight. I continued, it is like the EU is administering punishment beatings to we Brits. Now, remind me, when the British Army did that in Ireland, did it make you change your mind or make you even more determined? As it happens, I think the British Army did not beat up or kill anything like enough IRA men but I was humouring him. And he had to admit that he believed that such actions actually made his folks more determined and bolstered support for the cause of a United Ireland.
Whatever our views of the British Army, I cannot deny that in the catholic community of Northern Ireland, many would agree with my IRA mate’s analysis of the effect of punishment beatings. And so it will, I suggest, be with Brexit. You have to be an A grade Euro loon like AC Grayling, the fantasist queen of libel, cat lady Carole Cadwalladr or Lord Adonis (who the fuck is he anyway?) to not resent the spiteful actions of certain European officials who, for the avoidance of doubt, are not doing this because it was their idea, they are only being “Good Germans.” Who would want to rejoin a body that behaves in that way?
Meanwhile, if French restaurants go short of fish turned back at the docks and prices go up as a result because there is no substitute, does the Evil Empire really think this is helping its own citizens? In the end, we Brits can find an alternative market for our fish. I hope you are, as this household is, striving to eat more British caught fish. But those French diners? Zut Alors.