So I go down to the local town to buy my partner Jenny a birthday card and a present. I go into a gift shop owned by a good friend. I have a mask on and I sanitise on the the way in. My friend is not in the shop but her mother is at the counter wrapping up some pottery for a customer. I browse through the hand made cards produced by local artists and choose one with a view of a coastal valley in Ceredigion, the colours are beautiful, I am pleased. I move on to peruse the jewelry section and there I see a pair of silver earrings with jade coloured glass drops on them. Perfect, I often buy earrings for Jenny, I am a creature of habit, so I pick these up and stand two metres from the counter studiously socially distanced ftom the other customer. She leaves, I advance and I hand my purchases over for wrapping etc. We are now alone in the shop and we exchange pleasantries, after all we’ve known each other for more than twenty years. As she picks up some tissue paper from the counter top she turns the whole pile over and says something about having a new kitten who has walked over the paper and left a wet footprint on it. I say ‘Well cats don’t know about such distinctions I guess.’
She says ‘He’s new, he’s an adolescent boy, and you know what they’re like don’t you?’
I respond, flippantly, ‘Oh yes, there’s one of those in the White House right now.”
There’s a pregnant pause before she says ‘I am a Trump supporter, I’m fed up with namby pambyism, I admire his straight talking.’
I look her in the eyes and I say ‘ But he’s a total nazi….’ to which she replies, ‘Well I’d rather have that than wishy washy liberals.’
We talk for a bit longer about home grown politics and she tells me she was all for Corbyn but since the election the new Labour leadership is not for her. We talk a bit about Greece and Spain, Then, as she hands me the dinky mini brown paper carrier bag with the card and the fancy wrapped earrings in, I pay, say goodbye and walk up the high street back to my car.
I am very shocked. I remember back in the days when we were campaigning against the war in Iraq this woman was a staunch supporter of the local peace group and I have always thought of her as a comrade. I guess I’ll be buying birthday cards and earrings elsewhere in future. What the fuck is happening? I am confused. I take off my face mask, drive home, and pour myself a whiskey. I need it.
Harry Rogers, in the Red bedroom, October 12th, 2020.