Years ago, back in 1979, when I lived in Amsterdam for a year I watched a load of drunken English football fans run rampage on the ferry to the Hook of Holland (I won't say which team, it could have been one of various teams in those years)
They were all as pissed as farts. Shouting, yelling, puking, snarling, bullying passengers, smashing glasses. They acted as if it was their boat. There was nothing anyone could do to stop them. There were too many. The Dutch crew didn't even try to get a grip.
I will always remember the captain - a white-bearded old guy who looked like Captain Haddock's granddad, coming into the bar and seeing one of these fans standing on a table with his trousers down, beating his head against the ceiling till he made a dent in it.
The expression on his face was shock, disbelief, and incomprehension. I felt shame, as I suspect most of the sober Brits on board did. But these were the years when such behaviour was routine from the 'sick man of Europe'.
In the last 4 years I suspect many Europeans have felt the same incomprehension watching the destructive, arrogant behaviour of our politicians and Brexiters who treated a club that we voluntarily joined as if it were a dictatorship. And I have often felt the same shame.
Because we have allowed ourselves to become like those fans. We have become the country with its trousers down, mooning the world and beating its head against the ceiling. Even if you believed that Brexit had noble intentions (for the record, I don't),
We have shown such aggression, malice, dishonesty, obnoxiousness, low cunning, callousness, and downright yobbery that I doubt anyone would ever trust us again. We have wilfully trashed our international reputation, and made ourselves look like drunken piss-artists on a ferry.
And for those who might accuse me of snobbery - this is not a class issue. The relish in destruction runs right through the whole of society. The template has been established by our feckless rulers, who behaved just like Johnson and his Bullingdon Club louts used to behave
Like Farage the teenage fascist used to behave when he and his pals sang Nazi songs at school. Today not many people will remember the violent era of English football that I witnessed in 79. But millions will remember the last 4 years for a long time
And unlike that Dutch ferry, it will take a long long time and perhaps the work of generations to undo the damage that has been done, and the ignominious, disreputable, and downright sleazy country that we allowed ourselves to become.
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