I went to visit a friend this weekend. As we took a stroll on Saturday morning, he told of how he came back home with his nine month daughter, just as the England V Trinidad was ending. As he got to the front of his house, some youth who had been watching the game from the pub opposite came out, moved towards him in a scary manner and started chanting “two niil, two niil!”
Now, anyone who knows my friend would have worked out that as he was born in Nigeria, and as he spends most of his working life in the United States, he’s not really a Trinidad supporter. In fact, if you know him as I do, you’d know that he’s such a big fan of English football that apart from when England plays Nigeria, there’s no real conflict of loyalties with him.
We talked as we stepped on broken bottles outside his house. Well, it’s next to a pub, and maybe a few drunken white youths may not realise that if they start chanting menacingly at a black father and his nine month old baby, he might feel threatened. What would have happened, if … shock of shocks … England had lost that game.
All right, let’s get this in context. I’ve lived in Lancaster since 1990, and I can honestly say I’ve come across very few acts of overt racism. In most cases, people standing by have done something about it. Once, when I’d just arrived, a fellow uni student told me to go back home, and his friends immediately apologized, blaming drink. Then there was that guy who literally walked through me and challenged me to speak and get beaten up. I saw him about three times, the third time as I stood at Customer Services in Saintsbury’s. The staff who’d heard his challenge told him they wouldn’t serve him.
On the whole, I’m not really that worried about such things. But I hear the news and You’d be surprised to know that I’ve had a BNP leaflet through my door. Actually, come to think of it, my friend, (the one I spent the weekend with) once had a leaflet thrown through his door when he lived in Purley, asking if he’d like to attend a meeting to discuss the increasing influence of non-British people in his neighbourhood. We just laughed when he told me. Is it really that funny?