The below originally appeared on my Facebook page at 4am this morning, where it contained no shortage of expletives, which I’ve now removed, but having been originally compelled to write it in something of a drunken rage, many hours later, I find I’m no longer drunken, but still angry.
So there I was, sat on the night bus through east London, when I notice two eastern European girls sat opposite me reading a copy of The Independent.
This, let’s be honest, is a rare sight on a night bus, and of course (as a tragic individual at the best of times, and having never seen such an eventuality before) I lean in and say words to the effect of: ‘Hello, I’m a total cretin and I'm massively vain, but oooooh look, look, look on the next page, that’s ME, look, that’s my column, look at my little face, isn’t that amazing?’
And then I get made to hold up my face in the paper next to my actual face while they take a picture, which is utterly magnificent for my pathetic ego, a bit of laughter and chat ensues, and it turns out they’re both Romanian.
They’ve both lived here for ten years (I don’t recall exactly why, but it’s fair to surmise we weren’t talking about me at this point so I probably stopped listening), so they didn’t turn up in January when the ‘floodgates opened.’
But then, they turned to the front page of the paper, where Nigel Farage is grinning away in an Essex pub, drinking a pint of ale, above the headline: “FARAGE CRASHES THE PARTIES’, and one of them asks: ‘Why do you guys all think that Romanians are going to come over here and ruin your country?’
At this point, I try and say something along the lines of, ‘No, no, come on, no one really thinks that,’ but someone else next to us is reading the day before’s Metro and there he is again, grinning away in his tweed jacket, and suddenly you find yourself reduced to not much more than begging: ‘Please, please don’t pay any attention to all that. It’s lowest common denominator stuff, I guarantee no one on this bus is terrified of Romanians’ and so on.
As I got off the bus, I realised: ‘Nigel Farage and Ukip, you’ve just humiliated me.’
To a certain extent it’s my own fault for being so appallingly vain, and probably irritating too, but still, you meet two strangers on a bus, say hello, and then you spend the next five minutes having to apologise for Nigel Farage.
In general, one of the things I always think about politics is you have to get below the surface of it all, engage with the facts and the arguments, not the arguers, Cameron isn’t a ‘complete idiot’, Miliband isn’t ‘a weirdo’ and so on.
But then, I’d never really factored in the notion before that a party leader would humiliate me on the night bus. If Ukip really have crashed the party, and are here to stay, I guess the humiliation is something we will all have to get used to.