In the last few days I have been practising the gentle art of “brexorcism” on the street whilst campaigning to get the Tories out. These brief encounter stories are examples of what you can expect in my latest book on the subject in the story section. A brexorcism takes time, patience and skill, but these examples demonstrate how such things can be quite brief in some circumstances.
Brief Encounter I
I was late to catch a train from Strood and deposited my bicycle at the barrier to buy a ticket. The staff member had studied my bike which I use to trigger conversations about Brexit. On my return I found I had a few spare minutes as the train was late. Sam began the conversation:
SAM: “I take it you are against Brexit?”
ME: “Er, yes”.
SAM : “I’m afraid I voted for it”.
ME: “Well, people had many reasons”.
SAM: “I doubt you will be able to guess mine”.
ME: Well, let me see, was it the £350 million for the NHS? Maybe the idea of sticking it to Cameron? Or taking back control of our borders? or something else?”
SAM: “None of these – my wife is from the Philippines – she works in the NHS and had to pay £11 000 to get her into the UK. I feel sick as a dog as I now realise that Brexit has not solved this problem”.
ME: Well, I am so impressed that you told me, that is brave”.
SAM: “If I ever get the chance to go back on this decision I will”.
ME: “Thank you so much. I’m working on the case”.
We shook hands and I went on my way. I sense that he wanted to test my reaction to his ‘confessional’ and he was pleased with the result. In the book I show the methodologies behind the conversation. Key to my conversation was the bike which acts as the conversation starter and, of course, what I call UPR or unconditional positive regard in the book.
Brief Encounter II
On this occasion I was with a group of young people at an open mic jam session (my son’s friends). One of their circle opened up (he knows my views on Brexit but I’d never met him before):
“I’m from Italy but I’ve lived here for about 10 years. I’ll be brutally honest. I don’t give a fuck about anyone else. Why should I? I’m 23 and all I care about is earning a big pile of cash and having a life”.
I decided to offer lots of UPR by saying that I understood why he would think like that at his age. He admitted that he might think differently if he had kids (his girlfriend was with him – from her body language, I detected that she did not fully agree with him about his self centred view of life).
ME: “I completely understand your viewpoint. We adults have ruined the planet but I personally have not given up on planet earth”.
I then showed them this video below, explaining that this was why I continue to give a fuck about my fellow citizens, regardless of their viewpoints. It made a deep impact, especially on his girlfriend. I considered that this was enough as our first brief encounter and left them to consider what I’d said. Sometimes Brexorcisms needed to be left unfinished to allow for a period of reflection … The other important factor in this interaction was the social nature of the dialogue. He had 3 of his peer group sitting at the table. Peer pressure is more important than hierarchy in social herds.