Look, I have heard about “buyer’s remorse”. That’s when you go on a binge at the shops and the minute you get home you just don’t like that gold watch, those brown trousers or that green Ferrari anymore. The disappointment sets in pretty quickly, too, with these sorts of things. Remember how short that affair between
then DA leader Helen Zille and Agang’s Mamphela Ramphele was? A week.
But the malady the British are suffering from now will need us to invent some new words to describe it. Within hours of voting to leave the EU last week the penny dropped for the Brits: they had been monumentally lied to by the right-wing fringe that the UK would be overrun by immigrants dining out on their social welfare benefits, taking their jobs and “our women”.
Well, within 36 hours of the Brexit result being announced a petition on the UK parliament website calling for a rerun of the referendum had gathered nearly 3m signatures.
So many people were scrambling to sign the petition that the website crashed as a second petition, urging London mayor Sadiq Khan to declare the capital’s independence from the rest of the country, topped 100,000 signatures.
But what’s really going on here? Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, as someone quipped after the referendum, is no longer that great or that united. Though 51.9% voted to leave the EU versus the 48.1% who were in favour of remaining part of the bloc, there were large regional discrepancies. Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted overwhelmingly to stay in.
Of course I think the “Leavers” are a misguided, ill-informed bunch. However, the “In” campaigners cannot demand a result they like when they have lost. That’s what Robert Mugabe does.
It’s all rather depressing, really. Fortunately, London is still an open, open-minded city, and I have many friends there who, like me, wish to see a world that embraces all people and all cultures. Before the referendum, when the pound was still strong and the banks were not dusting off their plans to leave the City of London, I saw some friends (Lebanese-English-American) at a very classy Kensington restaurant, then went off to meet some fervent anti-Brexit types at Villandry. The prospect of Britain leaving the EU left them feeling sick. So I ordered a bottle of wine quickly to calm their nerves.
I was very happy to see that there was an SA wine on the menu, but this time I wanted to sample the rest of the world, unlike the Brits.
So we settled on a lovely sauvignon blanc from the famous Saint Clair estate in New Zealand. We sipped, we sighed, the London summer was lovely, and I looked around me.
Much like the London I prefer, Villandry is eclectic and fun and serious and whimsical and open to the world.
Around me I heard a German accent, the waiters were Spanish and in a quiet corner an American man and an Englishwoman seemed to be coming to the end of an affair. Bless.
Eclectic? Well, it’s a stylish warren with about four different areas to drink and eat.
The menu includes burgers, salads, steaks, fish, seafood and an all-day weekend brunch.
We sat in the formal dining area, overlooking a quiet Bolsover Street, and it was as if we were in a different place altogether to the rest of the restaurant, which overlooks the Great Portland Street side.
Service was prompt and efficient. We ordered a large duck salad and two lemon soles. We fell to. Delicious.
Then we piled out into London, a great cosmopolitan city that has been betrayed by its countrymen.
170 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5QB, UK
Tel: +44 (20) 7631-3131
***** Thuli Madonsela