Playground politics used to mean being worried about which clique you fitted into. Do you wear your gym kit on the school run and hurry off to yoga? Do you try and avoid mud on your work suit and leg it to make your first meeting the minute the bell goes? Are you the mum struggling with swimming kit, library books and bake sale offerings?
This morning the politics in the playground was European. For any mum (or dad, or grandparent, or nanny or childminder) who thought that the EU didn’t really effect them, this morning proved otherwise. There was talk of little else and while the kids played (or crashed their bikes like Hattie) we talked.
Most of us were stunned, upset, disappointed and more than a little embarrassed. We have many EU, non-EU, and Commonwealth citizens in our school community, and I stood there feeling like my country had just stuck two fingers up at them and shouted ‘we don’t want you here’.
For the parents who voted ‘leave’ in a forest of leafy Cambridgeshire ‘remain’ there were awkward moments, angry moments and further upset. Friends from yesterday could barely find a civil ‘good morning’ as they tried to hold it together and not shout.
So what does today bring? A Prime Minister that will step down in October, just before the USA might just elect Trump (let’s face it, after yesterday, anything is bloody possible). Financial markets in free fall. Mortgages to pay. Hard times ahead.
My biggest worries? The growth of right wing extremism. That’s not scaremongering, that’s what happens when folk feel threatened, when drawbridges get pulled up and we start using the rhetoric of ‘us’ and ‘them’. When the middle ground try to placate the upset with ‘we’re all in this together, let’s make it work’ whilst a boozed-up racist kicks the crap out a muslim kid this weekend because they ‘don’t belong here’.
If the next few months shout as loudly as the past few, and if decisions are made by those who have subscribed to a form of Britishness that is alien to me and my experience, then these times will be hard. Not just financially, but emotionally. The playground is divided and it’s not all bake sales and playdates.