It is I think symptomatic of the traditionally British approach to life that “second” is a word we’ve always admired. We’ve got this cultural synapse somewhere in our brains that suggests coming first might be somewhat vulgar. We prefer to be a brave, futile, or even gallant loser than win. Winning is somehow American, and thus suspicious. We can manufacture glory from the Light Brigade fiasco and the Dunkirk cock-up….and it’s OK to keep winning at rowing, because that’s sort of amateur and Varsity. But on the whole, Second is the thing.
Now that we are genuinely second-rate at almost everything, “second” as a word has come into its own. We don’t just prefer to come second, we absolutely insist that everyone must have a second chance. Furthermore, even if on merit a person would be overachieving if he or she came tenth, we think they should be judged as second, because that’s fairer.
The extreme version of this is England coming fourth in the World Cup, and receiving a hero’s homecoming for being our plucky lads who did us proud and triumphed over all those nasty south Americans and Africans who thought the sport in play was all-in wrestling. Had the referees been awake, chances are we would’ve come second. And if FIFA had any sense of fair play and level fields, they would’ve given us a second chance to beat Belgium. Which, of course, we did get….and lost again.
But our boys were brirriant.
This kind of cultural and constitutional muddle having plumbed shallow depths of dissonance in the new century, the arrival of Second on the seabed has got the hermetically sealed inhabitants of the bathyscaphe Belief terribly excited. For it is their right – their Human Right in fact – to have a Second Referendum on membership of the European Union.
The justification is obvious: it was terribly close, they weren’t ready, most voters are too dim to understand all this complex Big Boys’ stuff, racist bigots swung the result, nasty Tory Leavers told nonstop whoppers, and the Remainers lost. I mean, they don’t actually verbalise that last bit, but it’s the one that matters. However, given a fair crack at explaining the dangers of Brexit slowly for the hard of comprehending, the result would be very different were there to be a Second Referendum. Because everyone deserves a second chance….and in particular, the Leavers thoroughly deserve to come second, so it’s only right that they should have the chance so to do.
Second is good and just and fair and civilised. It is a Christian value, but also suited to the agnosticism of not quite settled science. It is intelligent, objective, open-minded, cosmopolitan, and almost certainly destined to become an App. It can cure cancer, and run domestic electricity on recycled bathwater. Most of all, it allows us to correct our mistakes – even if the democratically elected strategy hasn’t been tried yet, as such. Far better, you see, to spot the error before we’ve actually made it. Such is logical. So now is the time for all good citizens to campaign for a Second Referendum on stillborn Brexit. Obviously.
I’m warming to this as a new form of activism. There are no limits to the possibilities if we all start to Campaign for a Second. I may well devote what’s left of my useful life to this end.
I’d quite like to start by campaigning for a Second Coming of Christ. I wasn’t around for the first visit (which is so unfair) so I think we should all be given the opportunity to give him the once-over and see if he lives up to the rave reviews of the gospels. One visit in 850,000 years of Homo sapiens is niggardly to say the least – and now there are no Romans around with a crucifixion habit, we could have far longer to sit at his feet absorbing the wisdom of the Nazarene.
After all, if he rose again, he can come back again. What goes up must come down. It stands to reason.
Or perhaps it would be better to start small and work up. I could, for example, campaign for a Second Hand on my Watch. The one I’ve got does have two hands if you see what I mean, but not a third hand to measure the seconds. You see, every second counts in this life, and it’s not my fault that I didn’t notice the lack of a third Second hand until later. Alternatively, I could campaign to have the name Second Hand on watches changed to Third Hand.
Then again, as the French do get on my nerves at times, I think it would be an entirely worthy cause were we to Campaign for a Second Go at the Battle of Hastings. Be fair, that arrow in the eye of Harold was a one in a million fluke. Until that point, things were going well for the Saxons. Alright, yes yes yes, I know Harold was a pathological liar and the conqueror had a better claim, but for Heavens sake what did the Normans ever give us apart from the somewhat darkly titled Domesday Book? It’s 940 years out of date…like French retailing. We don’t need it.
A rematch would be a fine thing, and a tremendous boost to our tourist trade. This time, we”ll all wear goggles and desist from looking up. If we win of course, the French will shout, “Best of three,” which is typical of foreigners and should be resisted, being obvious evidence of sore loser syndrome on their part, and not something from which we Brits ever suffer.
One thing that’s always struck me as deeply unfair is the distribution of satellites in the Solar System. So if success is forthcoming on the Hastings and Watch-hands projects, I’ll have a crack at the Campaign for a Second Moon for Earth. The case for such a thing is irrefutable: Mars has two moons but is only 52% the size of Earth. Call that equality? Not in my book, chummy: we all know what 52% leads to don’t we? Leaving the EU and all starving to death. We’ve had enough of that nonsense already, thank you very much.
No, a second moon (Moon?) is only right and proper. Of course, the typically scumfascist Single Moon Little Earther reactionaries say that a second moon would wreak havoc on Earth, that gravity would tug on the planet causing gigantic tsunamis, earthquakes, and increased volcanic activity, and the ash and chemicals raining down would cause mass extinction. But this is just the sort of fearmongering that Leaver retards engage in. We progressives always know better: we deserve two moons and we shall have them. I’m sure the European Court of Justice would back me up re this one.
Penultimately, I suspect I would receive overwhelming support right across Europe as the leader of a passionate Campaign to give every federalist MEP and functionary A Second Home in Greece. Justice must be seen to be done here: nobody has worked harder to ensure salvation for the Greeks than those esteemed heroes Guy Verhofstadt, Mario Draghi, Jeroen Dijesslbleom, Wolfgang Schäuble and all the socialist members of the European Parliament who averted their gaze while the Greek population shrank by 22% to a far more manageable and realistic 9.6 million people. And as nobody is now using the empty homes thus created by Weimar economics, what better use could they possibly have than a richly deserved restoration by the baggers of fitted-up carpets? It is the very least that the Greek Treasury could do….and given all the fiscal surpluses from Athens expected by the IMF, eminently affordable.
But finally, my life’s work would not be complete without a triumphant Campaign for a Second Rate British Prime Minister. The 10 Downing Street renters we have endured in recent times fall well below the standards our Island Race expects. I refer of course to the likes of John Major (the zero interest rate), Tony Blair (the first-rate psychopath), Gordon Brown (a rate of knots), David Cameron (the going rate for a bung) and Theresa May (the X-rated Quisling).
I end where I began: our word is our bond, and the word around which all true Brits can rally is Second. What we need now more than ever is therefore a Second Rate Prime Minister. It is possible that Jeremy Corbyn is that person. But whether we are as ready for him (as he is so obviously ready to fulfill the role for us) remains a moot point.
A postcript: while I do not want Britain to come last in any unforeseen future, I would be eternally grateful if the Second EU Referendum was The Last.