I worked most of the morning and early afternoon in Costa Coffee. I'm now doing forensic work on the Nene composition, which involves diving into the piece and looking at it section by section, part by part. It's the sort of work you can sit and do for long periods of time without coming up for breath, and it was 3pm before I realised I had to stop for lunch.
At a certain point I found my eyes drifting over to the rack of newspapers they have in the cafe and saw, to my great disgust and horror, the Daily Mail's lead story. It showed a picture of Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May, photographed from below with their legs on display. The headline read "never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it?" The article, one assumes, discusses the merits of each woman's legs. I don't even understand the pun.
It is offensive for so many reasons. Aside from being hideously sexist in a Bernard Manning kind of way, what the paper singularly fails to recognise by publishing that piece is the pain that Brexit has caused our country and continues to cause, regardless of which side we're on. Denigrating and trivialising it like this hugely belittles the collective feelings of the nation. I immediately ripped the front cover off the paper and threw it in the bin. Someone I know has removed all the copies of the newspaper from her shop. I went up to the poor (Spanish) bloke behind the counter at Costa and asked whose choice the newspapers were. He looked worried: "Mine. Have I done something wrong?" My heart melted slightly: "What criteria do you use for buying them?" "I buy the two most popular. If you tell me which one to buy, I'll buy that next time." I couldn't bring myself to be the cliche and say "The Guardian." I don't even read the Guardian and although I suspect the good folk of Highgate are more likely to read the Guardian than the Mail, it's not the sort of comic-like paper you want to dip into whilst you sip. The barista's willingness to help had been so disarming that I simply said, "anything but that paper." And that's really how I feel, if I'm honest...
Only the Mail would publish something so offensive on the eve of the day that Theresa May triggers Article 50, which could mean the break up of, not just the European Union but the precious Union of of United Kingdom.
I know they do it for effect. In this respect the Mail is no different to Katie Hopkins or Milo Yiannopoulis. Even talking about the horror I'm feeling is playing right into their hands. But I can't help it. I hate sexism and I feel sad: Losing Europe makes me feel illegitimate. It takes away a huge part of my identity. It's a very bleak day.