THE man from BT has come to fix our temperamental TV box. It seems the problem is simple. He tips the box and viscous liquid drips out.
“Brexit sludge,” he says, tutting. “Happens all the time nowadays. It’s all that Brexit on the news. Every night it’s the same – Brexit and more Brexit. The news has gone stagnant and it’s rotting the boxes.”
The engineer tidies up the mess as best he can, then leaves.
I turn the radio on but find that news is broken: it’s all repeats nowadays.
“This is what the British people voted for,” Theresa May is saying again, her voice tired and squeaky.
And some of the British people, about half of them, can be heard to mumble that they didn’t. But there’s no time to heckle, as another Toxic Tory has come on the airwaves, ranting and raving about Europe and using words no one understands – “Vassal state,” he thunders, before the radio gives up, all connections now corroded.
Around the country people report the same thing: the news has got stuck. “It’s all the same as yesterday,” they say. “Bloody repeats.”
A man called Rip Van Winkle wakes up with a start. He is sitting in front of the television. “Only meant to have a nap,” he says. “Been out for a year and the news hasn’t changed at all. Something’s gone wrong with the news.”
“Same thing with the newspapers,” says Mrs Rip Van Winkle. “Look at my copy of the Daily Express.”
She holds up her morning newspaper. “EU STILL TRYING TO RULE BRITAIN,” says the headline. It’s a shouty headline but perhaps the readers are turning a little deaf. “We must ignore new laws dreamt up by Brussels,” says the small headline.
But as Mrs Rip Van Winkle holds the newspaper, it turns to ashes in her hands. “That happened yesterday too,” she says. “It’s all that Brexit stuff rotting the paper.”
“That and alarmist stories the weather,” says Mr Rip Van Winkle, yawning.
Some time after the man from BT leaves, I hear a rumbling, thumping noise and go outside to investigate. A man is mending holes in the road. He isn’t doing a very good job, just dropping a dollop of tar into the hole and tamping it down with his basher.
“That repair doesn’t look like it will last,” I say. “You should try cycling along this road with all its badly filled potholes.”
“Not my fault, mate – it’s those cuts,” he says, pausing in his important task of filling in a hole badly.
“And anyway, my boss says he was inspired by that Theresa May.”
“How come?” I ask, amazed that anyone could be inspired by the prime minister.
“Well,” says the hole whisper. “It’s like this, you see. He tells me that all Theresa May does is fill in holes in her Brexit policy. She pours in a bit of political tar, stamps it down with her kitten heels and hopes nobody notices the rough surface.
“And then he says he me, ‘If it’s good enough for the prime minister’s Brexit policy, then it’s good enough for our roads.’ So that’s all we’re doing – patching and mending and hoping no one notices the holes.”
“But I cycle over all those holes,” I say.
“Tough luck,” the man says. “Britain has got to drive along that road being badly filled by Theresa May.”
With that he goes back to filling holes badly and I return to the house and check that the TV is working. It is but the news is still broken. “Ministers are gathering for a key Brexit meeting,” says the newsreader. Then she repeats the words, stuttering. “M-m-ministers are g-g-gathering…”
It’s no good: the news is stuck again. More Brexit sludge.