History With Harry: What Is Brexit?

Jul 10, 2016 By Andrew Gabriel, Guest Editor
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[Dear Youngziners: This is the first of 3 parts of History With Harry, a series by Andrew Gabriel where he brings History alive through a story. We would love ot hear what you think. Add your comments below]

Frankie rang the doorbell. He felt sweaty, unsure, running a hand through his short, dirty blonde hair. He thought about the day that had led him to be standing on the old front porch. His mother, he thought shaking his head, and the stupid homework he had been given.

The British exit from the European Union (EU), or ‘Brexit’ as it was called, had been the topic in school. On June 23, British voters had passed a referendum to leave the European Union, sending immediate ripples through the global stock markets. The British pound, their currency, had dropped in value to a decades low.

 “Write an essay on what the effects of Brexit might be on the EU, and whether you support or oppose it.”

His teacher’s words rang in his ears, rolling his big blue eyes for the hundredth time that day. He didn’t want to do this. He wanted to be out with friends. What did it matter to him if Britain left this union?

“Go ask your grandfather about it. He had been a history teacher. You two could do with spending some time together.”

Frankie fought his Mom, but here he was now, standing on his grandfather’s porch. It’s not that Frankie didn’t like him…it’s just that he didn’t want to spend time with his grumpy, stubborn Poppop. Before he could change his mind, and walk away, Frankie heard a dog bark.

The front door opened. A tall man holding a cane, with green eyes, and thinning white hair stood, staring. The dog, a mix, with features of a yellow Labrador retriever, shot past Poppop, happily jumping on Frankie, tail wagging in a circular motion, like a propeller. The dog’s bark changed to a singing howl. Frankie thought his ears would burst.

A squirrel in the yard caught the dog’s attention, and he growled. “Get in the house, Harry,” Poppop ordered gruffly. Harry slowly walked back inside, eyes still on the rodent.

“Frankie,” Poppop said sternly. “What brings you by?”

“Hi,” Frankie hesitated. “I…uh…I was wondering if you’d help me with my history homework.”

“The topic,” Poppop asked, eyeing his grandson.

“It’s…uh…Brexit. Y’know, Britain voting to leave the EU?”

Poppop nodded slowly. “Which side of the argument do you support?” Frankie shrugged.

“You a supporter? Should Britain have control over its own economic policies, and protect its identity,” Poppop asked. “Or do you oppose it, feeling that it’s better for Britain’s economy to stay in the EU?”

Frankie stared blankly. Poppop huffed, rolling his eyes. “Do you even know why the EU was formed?”

Frankie slowly shrugged again, feeling like he was being quizzed in school. He wanted to back down the porch and run away. Poppop sighed, shaking his head. He turned, hobbling into the house. “Come in. Seems you need to learn more than you’re letting on.”

Frankie entered the old, dusty house, packed with books and antiques. He didn’t feel like being lectured by his grandfather any more than he wanted to do this assignment.

“Let’s start with the EU’s origins,” Poppop said, rummaging through books in the next room. “With Winston Churchill.”

Harry rubbed up against Frankie for a scratch, and Frankie mindlessly put his hand on the dog’s neck. “Wish I could just talk to Churchill, and be done with this,” Frankie muttered, scratching Harry.

Suddenly, there was a bright, white flash of light. Frankie felt the room spinning. When his eyes readjusted, and the light had faded, Frankie and Harry were standing in a green field. The grass was damp, the skies cloudy. An old house stood on a hill nearby. It reminded Frankie of pictures of the English countryside.

“OK! We’re here,” an almost cartoonish voice said in a funky accent, as Frankie looked around, confused.

And then Frankie felt his legs quiver, almost fainting, as he realized that the voice had come from Harry…the dog.

[Stay Tuned for Part 2]