On Thursday last week, as the baby and I were moving in our usual slow circles around the house, from changing station to feeding station to the place of dreaded midday nap, my husband, Dom, called to say he and all his colleagues were coming over.
Dom is employed by Vote Leave, the group campaigning for us to get out of the European Union. He’d been hard at work, he said, sharing his concerns about Turkey with the media, when water had begun to gush from the ceiling. Was this a desperate move by No. 10, intent on sabotage? Nope, said Dom, but we can’t stay here so I’ve invited everyone home.
Ten minutes later Brexit was in the kitchen. Brexit was younger and cheerier than I had imagined: seven twentysomethings sat around the dining table bent over Macbooks; another five sat on the floor. Four men in their thirties treated the kitchen island as if it were a fashionable standing desk. Their cables trailed through the butter. Two Canadian geeks stood by the midget’s changing mat, laptops propped on the wetwipe box. In the toilet, a brace of physicists discussed Facebook algorithms.
Around teatime the big beasts appeared: Boris, followed by Gisela Stuart, the Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. They prepped for their TV debate beside a tangle of just-washed sleep suits as the midget and I watched agog. For months now, my life has been dominated almost equally by the baby and the EU referendum. It felt as if fate had fixed it so that reality mirrored my mental state.
That evening was not the most surreal bit. On Friday morning, with Brexit still in situ, seven women from my NCT class arrived with their two- and three-month-olds for a long-planned hour learning baby massage.