As T.S Eliot once wrote in his apocalyptic magnum opus The Wasteland, April is the cruelest month. The bloke’s got a point. Politicians still won’t acknowledge that planet is heating up like a sweaty oven, the Brexit debates continue, and the economy is even more incredibly fucked than it was previously. And then to add insult to injury, pint-swiggin’ Nigel ‘Man of the People ’Farage (who, let’s not forget, attended a private school currently charging fees of £40,000 per year) continues to be given a platform on television to rant on about his Brexit Party. Is there anything decent left in this broken world?
For this reason, this weekend’s four-day Easter bank holiday – usually a simple and carefree occasion – was tempered by an underlying feeling of vague dread. Eyes streaming from hayfever, my pasty legs slowly roasting like chicken drumsticks, and handing over approximately £6 for a single pint of beer served in a plastic cup, I couldn’t help but wonder – a la Carrie Bradshaw – if cracking open a cold one would ever be the same again?
Enter Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary and long-serving MP Hackney North and Stoke Newington. The country’s first black MP, Abbott has battled against near-constant racism and misogyny throughout her career. She’s also been continually ripped apart by sections of the press for the smallest of missteps. For instance, the time that she was branded a racist in 2010 after she called Nick Clegg and David Cameron “two posh white boys”. Umm… spot the lie? Meanwhile her tireless campaigning for marginalised people goes largely unreported.
Diane Abbott’s latest crime – in the eyes of a few people who really need to get a life – is enjoying an ice-cold tinny on the train over the bank holiday. Specifically, a tinned mojito from M&S, quietly chugged on the Overground. And to be fair, who among us has not indulged in the simple pleasure of a pre-mixed cocktail to pass a long and winding journey? You could even argue that the forecourt of a train station is a democratic place where an entire nation metaphorically assembles around the chilled fridge area of M&S Simply Food; travellers from all walks of life gathering to exchange around £2 for a delicious drink. It’s a national tradition; a custom to be revered and protected at all costs.
Anyway, on this occasion some complete grass took a stealth photo of Diane Abbott and her mojito, and The Sun dedicated an entire page to her transgression – reminding readers that consuming booze on the TFL network has been *wags finger* illegal since Boris Johnson banned it in 2011. Politicians who bleat on about how funnelling their income through offshore tax avoidance schemes isn’t technically against the law – and prefer to enjoy their train bevs courtesy of the First Class champers bar, dahhhling – rushed to “slam” Abbott for her flagrant disregard for the law. And inadvertently, their shame campaign turned her into the nation’s hero. In one respect, it was refreshing to see a politician using public transport rather than expensing endless taxis.
For the first time in lord knows how long, an admittedly specific portion of the UK economy isn’t just muddling on; it’s enjoying a clear upward surge which I am going to attribute almost entirely to Diane Abbott. Sales of M&S mojitos have now shot through the roof; according to a very conclusive survey I conducted at the Paddington Station branch of Simply Food over the weekend, the pre-mixed cocktail shelves are completely bare, save for a few sparse tins of Bloody Mary rolling asunder. According to The Independent, Diane’s drink of choice was hastily replenished due to unprecedented demand in her home constituency, and as of today (23 April) branches of M&S at Oxford Street and Victoria Station are still completely out of tinned mojitos. Around the corner from NME’s offices today, the queue in M&S snaked around the entire shop. Truly, staggering evidence of Diane Abbott’s impact (or perhaps just everybody’s just buying Percy Pigs en masse to cure their post-mojito hangovers).
Couple that with what economists will surely come to refer to as ‘the Fleabag effect’ in years to come (sales of tinned M&S gin and tonic rose by 24% after the beverages featured prominently in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s show) and it looks like we’re finally experiencing some sort of economic boom.
Unfortunately there’s no comparable data when it comes to the true extent of Diane’s mojito impact – M&S did not respond to NME’s request for comment, and according to journalist Ben Gartside the company’s “press office does not hold statistics for Mojito sales in comparison to previous years”. It is a grave shame that we will never be able to measure the true consequences of The Abbott Factor on the UK economy; but frankly, the woman deserves a knighthood out of principle alone.
In between Theresa May’s racist immigration vans (introduced during her hostile tenure as Home Secretary) and the disgraceful failure to rehouse families following the Grenfell fire (along with the cost-cutting that caused it) there’s very little to be proud about when it comes to Britain. Boris, Nigel, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the rest of the politicians who love to bang on about ‘taking back control of our country’ do so while ignoring the plain fact that Brexit will leave our country worse off than before. If you think that consuming 250ml of sugary boozy liquid heaven is bad, remember that the Leave campaign broke electoral law, with levels of over-spending which likely caused the referendum result.
And honestly, if the sight of somebody quietly sipping from a slimline can of mint-flavoured bubbly goodness still leaves you shocked and appalled, maybe grow up and try catching the night Overground? Just last week I saw a man smoke four entire cigarettes aboard the orange-hued train, turning the rear portion into a sort of pre-smoking ban wine bar. Did anybody bother to stomp up the train and smugly dob him into the driver? Nah.
That’s because the ‘ordinary people’ that Theresa May mentions so often in her pointless speeches have far bigger things to worry about; and the usual suspects kicking up a fuss have only shown how out of touch they are with reality. Let’s raise a glass (well, tin) to Diane Abbott for reminding us all what bank holidays are really about – necking cut-price cocktails.