Tudor Brexit

Hello! How are you? I was working on a book and then a bunch of ostentatiously horrible political stuff happened, so instead I’ve spent the last three weeks drinking constantly and refreshing Twitter. Ha ha ha! [MUFFLED UNCONTROLLABLE SOBBING]

It’s become apparent that the leaders of the Leave campaign had zero plan, and either never really expected to win, or assumed everything would just turn out OK: I think possibly one of the reasons so many people went “yeah, sure, let’s leave the EU, no idea what will happen but it will probably be fine!” is that it taps into one of the main stories England tells itself about itself, about that time we told Europe to fuck off and it went great.

The story goes something like,

St Albans is where Londoners get to go if we’ve been very, very good

I took last Monday off work for no real reason and decided to go to St Albans. It’s a cathedral city I’ve been wanting to visit for a while; I’ve heard it’s cosy and pleasant, it’s where two important battles in the Wars of the Roses were fought, and most importantly, it claims to have the most pubs for a town its size in the UK.

St Albans has been around for a while – it was originally a Roman settlement called Verulamium, and the town still has Roman ruins as well as a spectacular Norman cathedral. It’s around a day’s horse ride from London, so as soon as London was established as a centre of government and commerce, St Albans became important as the overnight stop for Londoners on their way north.

Alban, the saint who gave the cathedral and later the town its name, was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity. He was killed (‘martyred’) by the Roman government and, as Christianity grew in the British Isles, the place where he was supposedly executed became a shrine, then a pilgrimage site. (Early Christian Britons were really big on pilgrimage sites.) Read more...