I had heard about the huge rise in racist incidents since the referendum result, but had airily assumed that it was all happening outside London, in those god-forsaken chunks of the country where people had unaccountably decided that recession, unemployment and knackered pension schemes were what they’d always wanted.
But no, it’s happening even here, in our sane, lovely, welcoming capital, the city that has opened its arms to the world ever since the first camp fire was lit by the Thames more than two thousand years ago. A Lithuanian friend said that a woman at her child’s school had deliberately stood on her foot. What’s more, she didn’t apologise. As anyone English knows, apology is our national sport. We apologise for existing. We apologise twice as much if our existence accidentally impinges on someone else. Not apologising, for an English person, is the equivalent of torching the other person’s house and shooting their pets.
But worse was to come for my Lithuanian friend. She had a spat with someone in a shop and suddenly things escalated from some mild tussling over queue placement to, “you’re not English, get the @£$% out of our country.”.
How sad. How awful, that it’s come to this, and so quickly. All this racism, bursting out, must have been there before but some sort of sense of shame and decorum kept it at bay. That seems to have been eroded. People appear to feel their hatred has been given complete licence.
Well not in my name (and don’t even get me started on the Chilcott Report). Fingers crossed that somewhere, quivering in the bottom of the box, there is still – hope.