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by Mandy Rhodes
12 January 2020
Waking up in 2020 after the usual festive bender with a banging head, dry mouth and the creeping fear


Waking up in 2020 after the usual festive bender with a banging head, dry mouth and the creeping fear

Waking up in 2020 after the usual festive bender with a banging head, that sweaty amnesia, the knot-in-the-stomach, the anxiety about what happened the night before. Dull brain, dry mouth and the creeping FEAR.

The fear about the memories swathed in a fog of clammy anxiety. Fear for the forgotten acts and then for the flashbacks that enter your slowly awakening consciousness.

And when they come, they are horrible. Some bizarre, some grotesque and some beyond debate or belief.

Visions of a man, otherwise liberal, dressed in a woman’s green kimono beating a fox to death with a baseball bat in the garden of his swanky London home. And then boasting about it on social media.

This is Britain 2020. It’s a nightmare

A furious row about what defines a woman and whether one with a penis qualifies just because they (sic) say they should.

And then the absurdity of ‘they’ being designated the word of the decade.

Uncomfortable questions about what does ‘living as a woman’ actually mean and what would qualify as a breach of a law that legislates for someone self-identifying as a different sex to the one they were born into?

Fevered thoughts. And all the while being prodded by a pitchforked rabble shouting down questions rooted in women’s rights with the counter accusation of transphobia. Really? Being a woman, standing up for women’s rights, being concerned about sex-based violence, listening to what women have to say, is that not what feminism was all about?

And then, in the discombobulating haze of that emerging hangover, the gut-wrenching reaction to a 19-year-old British girl found guilty of false rape allegations against 12 Israeli teenagers who, she says, gang-raped her after bursting into a hotel room in Ayia Napa where she was having sex with one of their friends.

The sickening outrage that those men were, unbelievably, released without the need for testimony despite pathological evidence of the young women’s injuries being consistent with the rapes. And the disgust to see them flying home to a heroes’ welcome with proud parents popping champagne, seemingly unashamed of their protégés’ abhorrent approach to women.

They filmed the sex. Whether it was consensual or not, such barbarism is not to be celebrated.

The world, it seems, has truly gone mad

And then the sickening suspicion that this could all be less about justice and more about political and economic expediency between two nations trying to seal a deal.

I ask one question. When did a woman ever consent to having sex with 12 men at the same time and to be violated in such a brutal fashion?

Never. Doesn’t happen.

Then, the creeping nightmare that an overweight, entitled, racist, whose infidelities are well recorded and who offers hee-haw as a role model, is elected as our prime minister.

A contemptuous victory by a chancer on the back of the hopes of a beleaguered working class. A frustrated electorate who, in their despair, believed in his nonsense but who were then thanked with a cavalier flick of his famously foppish barnet as he flew off to a private Caribbean island to forget about them as they made their way to the foodbanks.

The terror of an unelected “career psychopath” actually being in charge and pulling the prime minister’s strings. A man that elevates looking like a tramp to an art-form, who suggests that a solution to getting the right ministers for the job of running the country is to simply ignore the rules of democracy. A man who is so blatant in his anarchic desire to rid the country of experts that he reveals his cunning recruitment plan is to fill the civil service with misfits and weirdos and people who have worked in film.

A man in his late forties who revels in his immaturity by showing his bum-crack as he walks into Number 10 in a final contrived gesture of schoolboy high-jinx.

This is Britain 2020. It’s a nightmare.

And to America, where misogyny and a man’s belief in this entitlement to sexually assault women is on trial, but where women’s reproductive rights are being reversed. A dystopian landscape where even the word ‘vagina’ has been appropriated by the trans lobby and applied to people born male who identify as women and women born with a vagina now find it called a ‘front hole’. And where doctors could be forced to re-implant ectopic pregnancies or face charges of murder by abortion.

A country where the liberals find themselves trapped in political purgatory. Captured by a bloated, perma-tanned American president who tells elected politicians – women of colour – to ‘go home’ and who is tweeting out gobbledygook in the early hours while waging war on a foreign power. This could be a catastrophe.

And on the other side of the world, wild fires rage and you can’t un-see the woman racing into the Australian bush to save a burning koala or rub the sight from your eyes of the singed kangaroo silhouetted against a night sky turned orange by flames threatening to engulf all in its way.

This apocalyptic Australian summer, where the flames of climate change denial have simply been fanned by an ignorant prime minister in Scott Morrison who goes on holiday and suggests there’s nothing to see here.

Australia is the largest exporter of coal to the world, a global top ten deforester and ranked the worst of 57 countries on climate policy. Australia is a climate vandal and even as it burns, its political leader pretends that these things have no consequences.

Nothing revisited in those fitful, post-binge hours of this new decade could adequately cover the terror I feel of the cumulative reality of what took place in 2019 and what is still to come. The world, it seems, has truly gone mad, and with the nagging suspicion that the science denial, the intolerance, the contempt and the misogyny, are somehow all connected in a world that now sits on the brink of WWIII, little wonder Dry January has, for me, become a relief rather than a chore.

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