After years of hum-ing and ha-ing I’ve finally retired from mediating. I still believe mediation is the only way to go for separating couples, it makes sense in every way; it should be cheaper, you keep control of what happens to you and your kids, and at the end of the process you should be proud that you’ve ended your marriage in a civil way. However, being a mediator is not for me. I’ve realised that my main problem with managing St Clere (I’ve banged on about it before) is precisely the same problem that stresses me out about being a mediator. It is absolutely, totally and completely impossible to keep everybody happy. Which, annoyingly, is what I’m always hoping I can do.
In this regard, world politics is entering a very interesting (terrifying?) phase. Theresa May is going to have to grapple with the keeping-everybody-happy problem, and I am looking forward to watching Donald Trump attempt to do the same.
At least I’m working with manageable figures. When mediating, however carefully I phrase things, it is almost unavoidable that whenever I open my mouth at least 50% of the couple think I’m being unfair. It’s just too similar to my role at St Clere. Whatever I do, some people approve and others don’t.
When I look at whether to allow houses to be built on St Clere land I know that around 50% of my neighbours will be against it. The bottom line is that anyone with a view over the land will think it’s a selfish, money-grabbing exercise that will ruin the countryside. There will be another 50% who are living with their parents or trying to get on the property ladder or can’t afford to live in the area where they work who will thrilled if some reasonably priced houses come onto the market. It’s a 50:50 win at best.
With our potential field mounted solar project, most of our neighbours, and most of the country agree in principle that producing green, renewable energy without damaging the land or building anything permanent is a good, responsible thing. The ten or so neighbours who worry they might be able to see the solar array despite what we tell them understandably feel very differently about it. Making people unhappy and worried keeps me awake at night, but I have to balance everything up. Global warming, resultant catastrophic weather events and polar bears having nowhere to live must surely tip the scales? Let’s call it 95:5.
Our fabulously marvellous development at the top of the farm hill makes two of our neighbours utterly miserable, and at least another five a bit pissed off. But it’s bringing business to the area (our lovely tenants at Blends for Friends blend nearly 1% of the tea drunk in the whole of England), sending Business Rates to the council, providing some more much needed affordable housing, and cleaning up an eyesore. Worth it? I reckon there’s a 90% benefit but it is so hard when you know it’s causing so much stress and distress, even to one person.
But poor Theresa May. For her, the figures are much, much worse. Less than 30% of the population of the UK voted for Brexit. If you’ll forgive me a massive broad brushstroke opinion, I’m guessing one third of this (or 10% of the country) voted for Brexit for reasons along the Boris-lines of ‘we just need to get control back from Brussels but otherwise we like everything Europe has to offer’; a second third were more Nigel-minded with a “close-the-doors-we’ll-be-better-on-our-own” mentality and, (I hope this isn’t too inflammatory) the final third were people I will call “nutters”. And frankly, I don’t believe any of those three groups agree with each other on much at all. So, now, who can Theresa please? No wonder she keeps saying Brexit means Brexit; there’s nothing else she can say! Any other ending to that sentence will please only a maximum of 20% of the population. Let’s try it. “Brexit means; no immigration”; Nigel’s gang and the nutters agree totally, they are happy. Team Boris isn’t, Remain voters aren’t, farmers aren’t (they need seasonal pickers) and the city isn’t (it needs flexibility for staff in the money markets), let alone the Remain voters. Let’s try again. “Brexit means; continuing trading with Europe and paying the financial penalty for being outside the EU”. Boris, not especially happy. Nigel, nutters, Remainers; all hopping mad. I honestly think she’s going to have to cope with the fact that whatever she decides/negotiates, the large majority of the country will be furious. I would not be good at handling that, good luck to her.
And as for Donald. Well, imagine how his voter profile splits? As tempting as it is to imagine, not every single one of the 61,000,000 people who voted for him are right wing extremists. Some of them just like a bit of straight talking, some think he was good on the Apprentice, some are desperate for change in their lives, some are desperate for change in the political system. I can’t imagine a single thing he could do that would please all of them, let alone the other half of the country who loathe everything about him. Can you?