Last week was one of those times when you sensed how thin the membrane is between the functioning intact life and its total destruction. It's a bit disorienting, isn't it, swishing around in the amniotic fluid of social change? Scary too. The loudest tantrum simply camouflages fear, and you could sense it; after the UK voted "leave" the world was vibrating with adrenalin. When my children had tantrums, it took me far too many years to realise the conventional advice - putting them in time out - is actually the very worst thing you can do. When we are overwhelmed the best way to soothe our hyped-up nervous system is through connection with another human being, not through isolation. So the best thing you can do for your tantrumming child is give them a hug. And when they have calmed down, to listen and work out what was really going on. When it comes to Brexit, I'm still trying to do that. What I've worked out so far:
1 There is hardly such a thing as a war in which it makes no difference who wins.
Nearly always one side stands more or less for progress, the other side more or less for reaction. But I couldn't work out whether this was a vote to go backwards or to take a big leap into the future. George Orwell: "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
2 There was a picture of English "outies" with placards saying "We want our country back." They were, as Adrian Gill says, "snorting a line of the most pernicious and debilitating Little English drug, nostalgia." But are they going to get it back? No. Because that past of leather on willow does not exist any more, if it ever did.
3 There is a glaring mismatch between what some people thought they were voting for and what they are going to get. The people who thought globalisation was "a force for ill" voted to Leave (52 per cent of them, anyway). Yet there is no sign of protectionism in the Brexit case. For example, Canada has already said it wants a free-trade deal with the UK. If this was a protest against globalisation it was a bit of a dumb one.
4 The outcome of the Leave vote may be more progressive than we realise. The New York Times says: "The lasting damage may be to old ways of thinking."
5 George Orwell said: "A family with the wrong members in control; that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase." If anyone was in any doubt, we can see how angry the working class really are. Psychologist Thomas Hills: "People don't just get angry one day and stab their partner. They get angry, and then they get angry again, and then they stomp their feet for a while, and then one day they get really angry and they happen to be cutting onions."
6 This will embolden populist movements. Bookies are putting 25 per cent odds on Donald Trump winning the presidency. That is the same odds as they were giving for a Leave vote to win.
7 This is a battle between generations. The less time you had left on earth to bear the results of your decision the more likely it was you'd vote to leave the EU. There were 15,000 retweets of "I'm never giving up my seat on the train for an old person again".
8 This was a revolt against elites. The vote revealed austerity-weary, frightened voters who want housing, security and proper jobs. It's easier to see a bigger picture, to be a liberal, when you have a steady job.
Why are we surprised the working class gave two fingers to a future of uncontrolled migration and zero-hours shifts? Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, politics and economics have mostly moved in one direction, with the elites on both sides of the Atlantic favouring policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, the introduction of the European currency and the entry of China into the World Trade Organisation. Business has applauded these moves, but voters are not necessarily on board as they once were.
But "try selling it in poor provincial towns to people who may not even have a passport; those who feel no benefits from this shiny fast-flowing global world; who are lectured by all parties about the benefits of migration while their own wages are undercut", Janice Turner writes in The Times.
9 Patriotism is usually stronger than class hatred, and always stronger than internationalism. Love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. The tide of public opinion has always turned, invariably on coolness. People just want to be cool.
10 Listen to the wrath. GK Chesterton: "It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest, God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best. But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet. Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget."