Full of it

April 6, 2009

The joy of spring that is. My garden has a lot of colour at the moment, though beyond the single daffodil and a gnarled up rose I have no idea what they’re called. It was all good until today but now I am also full of hay-fever. Poopies.

I have been spending all my free time with writerly friends, partaking of writerly activities like writing envelopes to agencies (on behalf of my friend), sitting in coffee shops and criticising popular novels and their writers. And buying shoes, but I needed shoes because my last pair came apart slightly and made me fall down in two seperate train stations, causing great concern to the general public.

I’m still hopeful of a slow but steady rise in progress as I now have a new writing aid…

Though progress may be hindered by general rage for StinkyHouseFolk who seems to have replaced his casual racism with active sexism and has been particularly obnoxious (as well as physically noxious) all week to everybody.

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Superiority complex

August 8, 2008

My personal privileges as a white middle class UK citizen were brought to light this week by two very different encounters. The first was when a large group of black teenage boys wanted to get on the bus, weren’t allowed, then one of them sabotaged the bus. Although sabotaging a bus is rarely the best cause of action I sympathise with the boys. They are one of the most despised groups in our society, and one that it seems socially acceptable to despise since all the press about gangs, knife and gun crime. They were probably correct when they claimed the bus driver was being racist. I can appreciate the driver was intimidated by the number of them and only wanted to admit some to reduce the chance of rowdiness, but the fact that they could see there was space for them all to fit antagonised them. Unfortunately they did get a little rowdy then, proving in the minds of the passengers what they had suspected all along.

It’s actually that part that happened after that I had most problem with. The boys were not a gang, they were a football team on their way to practice. Despite that the disruntled passengers complained the driver should have done something sooner, they shouldn’t have been allowed onto another bus, and one of them called the police. These were all middle class white people, all very annoyed that their bus had been messed with. The guy who called the police actually shouted at the rest of us for not standing up with him when he confronted one of them (he’s obviously been reading too many opinion pieces on the Independent website). No one spoke up for the kids, but I guess there could have been some secret sympathisers.

I understand why they feel safer in large groups now, with so many suspicious glances.

Not that I understand their entire lives, obviously, though I do think hating teenagers is one of the first signs of aging.

My second encounter was with my new friend Neighbour. Neighbour lives next door (duh) and gets the same bus as me in the morning, giving us the opportunity for a five minute chat before the bus arrives. He is about 60, a working class Brummie who builds staircases for shops. I, being middle class and highly educated, assumed that I was so very much more clever than Neighbour, until we had a chat about books. He is a sci-fi fanatic and loves to read at any given opportunity, though for unspecified reasons (probably since he started living in pokey bedsits) he hasn’t read a book for 3 years. I could not allow this so I lent him A Brave New World and Oryx and Crake the next day: the only sci-fi books I could find at short notice. He was most pleased, and promised to lend me a book of his when another friend returns it, about a half-human half-martian and featuring philosophical discussion on the value of marriage. That is a book I would like to read. Which surprised me. Because I do have huge prejudices in the way I see the world, and I judged Neighbour on his appearance and class and his current main hobby of drinking Carling.

I am glad Neighbour befriended me, he has helped me see flaws in myself that I can address.


So much pub food

July 21, 2008

but not much walking, so physical health levels down while mental health levels raised by not having to do anything strenuous. I think we covered all the holiday staples: we visited a seaside town, a local attraction, a wildlife, and a historical building. We also had many kinds of cakes to the point where my partner got sick of them and started refusing dessert. He and I also came across a slight problem with second-hand bookshops and I have now shored up my to-be-read avalanche-waiting-to-happen with even more fine quality reading materials. The best part was seeing the joy in the old shop-owner’s face when we made our purchases and feeling like we’d bought his lunch that day. The worst part was when I decided I was eighty but conveniently without arthritis and should take up quilting. Soon I shall be queen of all that is twee. We narrowly avoided going to the cat pottery as that may have tipped me over the edge.

Does anyone know the link between Hornby/Steam trains and gollywogs? No this isn’t an off-colour joke and I don’t actually know the answer. All I can say is that when we went for a ride on the tiny steam train all the stations stocked many sizes and styles of gollies. No one seemed bothered either. My mum even suggested I get a little one to clip on my handbag. It was at this point I realised that there are no black or ethnic minority people in the British countryside. That’s a lie, I saw a black man in a UV jacket the day after the steam train incident, but noticing these things made me feel weird and out of place and I’m white and British. I feel uncomfortable in areas where there are only white people because it feels like there is some kind of unspoken exclusion being practiced and it makes me suspicious of the local population. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always lived in cities that it feels a lot more normal to me to have a mix of people around.

I think if I voiced that opinion to the Daily Fail (or half the papers around) I would be labelled the hapless victim of the evils of multiculturalism. But that can’t be right because most non-white people I see day to day are British, just as British as I am and part of the same culture as me. I saw a news report yesterday that there is a possibilty of creating a regulation that would prevent potential parents adopting children of a different race to themselves because the child might lose their culture, but if the child was born here chances are it would have been raised in British culture anyway. They will have plenty of time to research their biological heritage when they are older, besides which they are hardly likely to get any better cultural impressions from being stuck in a care home. This double standard is simply a way of ensuring that white children get a better chance of being adopted while leaving ethnic minority children without family support that could help them get a better education or ease the transition to adulthood.


Self-loathing

June 11, 2008

It’s easy and a very dirty habit. I have not had the courage to tell Housefolk Epsilon that I don’t want to live with him any more. I hate creating tension. In fact I hate interacting with HE in any way, which is kind of why I don’t want to live with him. Last night, when Relocation Revisitation was on he mentioned that he’s seen a great house in this out of town suburb he is desperate to move to. I don’t believe the house is for real because it sounds way too cheap for the area. I also refuse to move to that suburb because it is really far away from the city centre (sort of its own town) and all I know about it is that it’s extremely middle class so probably has terrible transport links and everything will be over-priced. It also sickens me because HE once described it as a ‘bastion of whiteness’ whereas I would prefer to pay a little less and not give a crap about the colour of my neighbours.

I hate myself for not calling him on his racism. It is awful, and I do all I can to avoid being anywhere near him in public places but I’m too much of a pussy to call him on it. I’m a strange one in that I tend to only bring smackdowns on my friends, such as when one of the guys said something about not needing ‘gay hypnotism tactics’ and I told him about my vision of the gay tactics lab team working away on their latest hypnotism techniques. In my experience of gay people there aren’t many secret groups like this. The word just jars in my head when people use it in the wrong context like that so I often tell them in the hope that they’ll think about the words they use (or just annoy them into not doing it anymore).

Still, that’s not a very good comparison because the guy who says ‘gay’ is not a homophobe he just has slack language use. Housefolk Epsilon is a deliberate racist. I don’t know why either. I could be he grew up in an incredibly white area. Or that he had prejudiced parents. Or that a person of an ethnic minority did something that hurt him once. Or that he has an inferiority complex so feels the need to class vast sections of society beneath himself, including women, people of colour and queers. Or he’s a massive dumbfuck. Or all of the above.

I used to go out with a guy who gradually revealed himself to be racist. He was also a pig to me and cheated on me several times, so let’s call him an all round bad person. One thing that really gets to me still is that when I phoned him after being mugged in the street and physically attacked the first thing he asked me was ‘was he black?’ Not was I ok or had I called the police yet or anything like that – he was just that keen to get another little anecdote for his arsenal of hate. I wish I had put the phone down on him then and called it quits, I could have saved myself a year of degredation and humiliation, not to mention all the self-loathing afterwards when I realised what a shit he was and what an idiot I must have looked for so long.

Why are so many young people in the UK racist? I don’t understand what excuse they have…