Consumed by illness, while Brexit consumes others

Apologies that this blog has not been updated for a few weeks – it’s increasingly felt like our household has been gripped by the Black Death.

It’s no secret that babies and toddlers are magnets for illness. And while Albie has yet to master walking or consuming milk, neither has he got to grips with personal hygiene.

Like others his age, he’ll sneeze in your face, cough without covering his mouth and wipe his hand on the snotty mush which has seemingly replaced his face and see if it sticks to yours.

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Our ‘fed up’ faces

No surprises, then, that during what seems like forever, bugs have been recycled around our house at a rate of knots. I’ve been downed by tonsillitis, as has Hanna, and Albie’s probably had it, too, coupled with gunky eyes.

When he was first born, he was a bit like a baby badger, in that he didn’t open his eyes for a few days. When it came to the essential checks, it took three of us to prise his eyelids open to confirm there was something beyond them. He’s got stronger since, and developed a dislike for eyedrops!

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Amid the health crisis, everything around us from the fence (predictably our side) to the sofa has been breaking. At times the old way of life of ringing the landlord appeals.

Perhaps, all things considered, it’s no shock to see the blog take a bit of a back seat. Work has been as busy as ever, too, and with local elections on the horizon I don’t expect things to change.

On the subject of politics, it’s a tough call at the moment between what I’m most fed up of – sore throats or Brexit.

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My position on Brexit is pretty fluid. Before the Referendum, I penned a column expressing concern about holding it at all. I felt the issue would prove so complex that the average member of the public – me included – couldn’t possibly weigh up all the information and come to a fully informed view.

Years later, as MPs struggle to decide what they want to do about it, I largely stand by the spirit of that column. But my overwhelming feeling now is one of tiredness. It has gone on too long, and whatever the outcome we just need to move on.

We need to move on because the issue is is far too divisive, and I fear the issue has consumed some people to the extent that we are losing our sense of perspective.

Our coverage of this story was a case in point: https://www.shorehamherald.co.uk/news/shoreham-children-march-through-town-in-brexit-protest-1-8866534

On the face of it, it’s an innocent story. Children, who we might stereotypically expect to be turned off by politics, had read about Brexit and held their own mini march in favour of staying in the EU.

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A picture of happiness, just as the children on the Brexit march appeared

Pictures appeared to show the children, aged between eight and 11, having a perfectly pleasant time. Good on them for showing an interest in current affairs, in my opinion.

When we run stories like this, what they’re marching for doesn’t matter. Leave, Remain, or for free Nutella for every pupil – we don’t care.

We are there to report on things which happen in our communities. We don’t see groups of children marching through the small town of Shoreham with flags and hand-painted signs every Saturday. It’s unusual, so it’s probably news.

Yet on sections of social media, it appeared to be viewed as an anti-Brexit conspiracy. Parents were judged, assumptions were made without any corroborating evidence and covering the story was deemed as biased.

I’ve seen this pattern with other Brexit stories. Many seem under the impression that printing the views of one side means the paper endorse them.

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One of the conversations I had about a Brexit story

Granted, on a national level it is undeniable that certain publications have taken a strong view. That’s not usually the case with locals, though, and if there is a stance to be taken we’ll have no issue telling readers, rather than embarking on some subconscious mind-altering exercise where we sneakily feed you articles to hint at our position.

It wouldn’t be a shock if local papers decided not to bother printing Brexit pieces, as there’s an argument that it’s simply not worth the inevitable hassle.

But what a sad state of affairs that would be. While I’m in an editing role, it won’t be my stance.

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Another sad state of affairs

I do however worry that such vitriol is turning people off politics. Given the low engagement in elections, particularly local polls, it’s not a position we can afford to be in.

If those children, who showed a healthy interest in Brexit, saw some of the comments, what would they think of it all? Ten-year-old me would have turned on the PlayStation instead of PMQs.

Let’s hope for a quick resolution to this mess, and then we can all return to a state of normality.

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