This summer democracy hit hard and fast, but when it did we reacted with just the right amount of grace. "A London Referendum" some shouted in shock on the day -- in jest, of course, maybe -- as we came to terms with an irrecoverable decision, while retreating to our most natural tendency to wash our hands of the individuals who make up the rest of the country or, as they call themselves, "fellow citizens."
You could blame the M25 and east London for our independent spirit. The benefits of the latter, I hope, are obvious. In terms of the former --despite Smoke & Tales' editorial board strongly endorsing the edge of Zone 3 as an accurate demarcation between our city and the countryside -- the motorway creates a natural border that makes it easy to imagine where our own great wall would go.
Arrogance is often predicated on maintaining a performance you know will never be tested. However, as we occupy a world in which Boris Johnson is briefed on the location of nuclear weapons, rather than living out his true calling (selling novelty T-shirts emblazoned with a million versions of the word banter, as he rides on a chariot lubricated with the tears of poor people), we must accept that anything in this world is possible should enough gross negligence be applied.
With a desire to prepare you for all eventualities, let's imagine that, in a fit of rage, the fine people of the North, the West Country, Norfolk and Cornwall -- that's everyone, I think -- called our bluff and allowed us to form our own independent nation. What would happen next?
With a border in place, the first task would be electing a leader. "President" is an antiquated word; the sort of title they'd use in Bath. In its place, "The Ultimate Beholder of Everything", or T.U.B.E for short, could certainly serve as our leader's appropriate title. The position's main focus would be ensuring our human delivery service remains in operation and marketing our sole exports: passive aggression, Broadway Market, and the bottled wishful thinking of Notting Hill residents who think Carnival will ever be moved.
It's only fair Sadiq Khan is given the opportunity to run for the T.U.B.E, though we shouldn't be afraid to look further afield. Prince Harry's laissez-faire attitude to being an adult should put him top of the list, along with whoever convinced this city many years ago to put 'Open' buttons on the Underground's doors to help locals identify the new and weak. At risk of stating the obvious, those living outside of Zone 3 will automatically be banned from contesting. Rather, they'd be given a year to collectively curate an appropriate demonstration of their gratitude to the rest of us for allowing them to stay.
Our insularity should prevent us from needing an army. Foreign Affairs is the foolish preserve of people with an attention span broad enough to consider other countries exist when not serving as holiday destinations. The city's collective inability to stop Foxtons from invading every street demonstrates we wouldn't be good at this War business anyway. In terms of a national anthem, an appropriate song must consist predominantly of the sharp grunt most make when the person in front of them fails to tap their Oyster card properly, to the tune of M.I.P's, "Oops, We Made A Mistake."
Deciding on a capital city could present certain challenges. The proprietors of Brick Lane know how to welcome a stranger, offering a temporary caretaker option. However, in the long-term, it's unlikely Shoreditch has any more of its soul to sell for the job. South West Londoners will need time to deal with the shock of needing a visa to travel to Surrey, so shouldn't be burdened with the added hassle and cost of erecting the requisite number of Chicken Cottages befitting capital status. As an area that is easily avoidable for locals, Dulwich appears the logical choice.
As idyllic as this all sounds, our best estimates for survival range between the one- to six-month mark. A time will come when our sport becomes stale, and we all begin to starve because farming, as a concept, sounds great, but proves difficult in reality when all our parkland is barren from years of summer festival abuse and rotting disposable BBQs. The inevitable revolt over limited access to the single Nandos market will be swift and ugly.
Therefore I urge you, when the time comes to decide whether London should continue as the great member and guiding light the UK needs, or leave to become a nation which discovers the hard way that man cannot live of the produce of allotments alone, vote Remain.
This article first appeared in Issue 4 of Smoke and Tales