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Pandora’s Box

July 7, 2016

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.

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  • Addy July 7, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    It’s a bit like Nazi Germany all over again. People have to blame someone for their problems/recession/life/whatever. In 1919-1939 Germany, it was all the Jews’ fault. Now in 2016 Britain, it’s those Europeans. I think this awful xenophobia has been fuelled by the emphasis by the media before the referendum on immigration, when that was really not why a lot of people wanted to leave. (I happen to know that very few on the Leave side voted because of immigration but on much wider issues such as freedom from Brussels regulations, belief in being able to trade independently etc, so it is only a loony few who have jumped on the racist bandwagon and they are more likely to have always hated foreigners. For example, I know of an old couple from my dog-walking days in the park who would never shop in Lidl, despite being quite hard-up and needing to save money, because it was German!) Let us hope that this awful racism gets stamped out as quickly as it arose and we can get some common sense, law and order back into this country.

    • Dulwich Divorcee July 11, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      I think it would have been helpful if there’d been some proper leadership in the immediate aftermath of the referendum but instead everyone has been busily resigning … it’s allowed people to get away with things that are just not acceptable …. scary stuff. Can’t believe it about your Lidl-hating acquaintances, talk about bearing a grudge!

  • Victoria July 8, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Absolutely. A friend of my husband was asked by a bus driver to get off a bus in central London the other day because his suitcase had “made in EU” written on it. It’s insane, and I find really frightening. I’m beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable with being English.

    • Dulwich Divorcee July 11, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      That is absolutely bonkers!!!! I can’t believe a bus driver would do something like that. I hope your friend complained to the bus company. I agree it’s not a great feeling in the UK at the moment ;(