Apparently, you can now see the ring of human excrement surrounding Brexit Britain from space, the raw sewage of Brexit’s environmental fallout lapping at the shores of our sceptic isle. The Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping, whom I befriended at one of Robin Ince and Brian Cox’s Hammersmith Apollo space-comedy events while dancing to Charlotte Church’s indie-pop covers band, contacted me from her sleep pod on the Tianhe space station module to describe the sight. “Oh Stewart! From space, Britain now looks like a beautiful green jade earring, but a beautiful green jade earring that has been dropped in an oyster pail Chinese takeaway box full of dog diarrhoea. Oh Stewart!” Wang sighed, clearly distressed, “no fine ladies will want to wear that filthy earring that is Brexit Britain now. So sad. So sad for you. How is your Edinburgh fringe going? I hear Kunt and the Gang’s Shannon Matthews: The Musical is very good.”
Like me, I am sure you remember reasonable Remainers’ warnings about the incoming non-availability of European manufactured, sewage-refining chemicals being dismissed as “project fear”; like me, I am sure you remember how Michael Gove snorted with haughty delight as he promised us leaving the EU would enable us to enjoy even tighter environmental protections, rather than being swamped with raw sewage. Another Brexit-non-bonus; like me, I am sure you worried that the EU’s fines for water pollution by privatised water companies were all that was saving us from capitalism crapping into every culvert, as big business kleptocrats asset-stripped the water infrastructure and processed the profits abroad; like me, I am sure you realised that the Conservatives’ October 2021 decision to vote down an amendment that would have stopped the dumping of raw sewage into seas and rivers would mean their friends who own the water companies would be free to choke our waterways and coastlines; and like me, I am sure you were more than a little bewildered to find that the most consistent voice of reason in this crisis is former Undertones frontman and keen fly fisher Feargal Sharkey. Who can forget the prophetic hit single, Here Comes the Summer, with its classic couplet: “Keep looking for the girls with their bodies so fit, lying on the beaches all covered in shit”?
To be fair, Sharkey is only one of a long line of Northern Irish punk musicians currently engaged in specific water-related political activism. Former Stiff Little Fingers guitarist Henry Cluney is especially concerned about climate change’s impact on the breeding cycle of the water boatman (Corixa punctata); Ronnie Matthews, of Big Time hitmakers Rudi, sponsors a rare pelican eel at Belfast Zoo; while one-time Moondogs bassist Jackie Hamilton has attempted to raise awareness of depletion of the habitat of the gasterosteidae family by living for a year as a stickleback in Fermanagh’s mysterious Loch Erne. Nonetheless, Sharkey’s pop career change is only the second most startling in rock, beaten by that of Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, who vacated the bassist’s hammock of 1960s Boston acid rockers Ultimate Spinach, and subsequently the comfortable leather armchair of the same position in Steely Dan, to co-develop the Pentagon’s Son of Star Wars weapon system.
As water bosses’ dividends rise our rivers are suddenly more polluted than ever and our beaches are befilthed by sewage discharge in a way not seen since the 1970s, when I well remember seeing human turds bobbing around the face of Bobby Ball as he bathed blissfully in the Blackpool brine between shows. Back then, we were known as the dirty man of Europe. Today, the dirty man of Europe is Iain Duncan Smith, whose preferred pastime of picking his nose and gobbling down the crusty mucous in the Commons has become a hit “Try not to gag” meme among continental teenagers. But filthy Britain may yet become the dirty man of Europe again.
Ironically, the clogging of the seas around Britain with untreated excrement already threatens the core values of Brexit. Currently, I am in Edinburgh, performing two sold-out shows a day of “so-called” “woke” “comedy”. Between the middle ages and the 19th century, the spot currently occupied by Princes Street Gardens was home to the Nor’ Loch, an artificial lake that became so clogged with the human filth that ran down from the crowded tenements on the north slope of the Royal Mile that in hot summers a crust of excrement would harden across it strong enough to bear the weight of a man.
Indeed, in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775), James Boswell recalls Samuel Johnson betting him a hundred guineas that he could not bear him upon his back over the encrusted sewage-lake. Boswell tried his best, but the creme brulee sliver of human waste cracked at around the point where the Ann Summers shop stands today and both Johnson and Boswell fell floundering into the filth, while much hilarity ensued. The problem for the Brexit government is that on a calm day, with a hot sun, the surface of the enshatted English Channel itself could similarly harden, allowing migrants in their millions to simply walk into Brexit Britain on foot, a spectacular own goal of Brexit’s regulations bonfire.
So, swim at your peril, middle-class wild river swimmers, unless you fancy being confined to your ersatz rustic Airbnb travellers’ wagon with sickness, diarrhoea and your children.
But remember Brexit Britain, as you crawl from the sea coated from head to toe in human excrement, it’s what you voted for! Freedom from their red tape! We may be swimming in shit, but at least it’s the shit of Britons unbowed by the yoke of Brussels! Where will this bonanza of post-Brexit deregulation take us next?