No pasarán

If I try hard enough I’m sure I can manage to write something on the election that somehow has a tie with books. I expect many of you have already seen that piece by JK Rowling in the Times a couple of weeks ago. Along with most others, I was really impressed, but not surprised, by what she wrote. Unlike her I’ve never listened much to the bad things they say about single mothers. Not because I’m not one of them – I’m not – but because I’ve never in my wildest imagination been able to see anything amiss with single parenthood. One of the people closest to me was a single mother, and how hard she worked, and what an upright citizen, and decent human being she was!

Around the time when the JK piece was in the news, there was a programme on television. I read the blurb for it in the paper and it made me really angry. The premise for the programme seemed to be that the children of these single mothers were destined to become failures. So not only are the parents bad, but their children automatically become bad. And this wasn’t even the politicians speaking (hang on, if it’s an election; don’t they want those votes? Maybe not…), but the programme makers. So they dislike us too.

It had never struck me that I might be bad due to mother-of-witch being a single parent. But now that I consider me, well, I’m one of those very bad things – a foreigner. And an immigrant. She clearly failed there. And I’m unemployed. No, I’m not, insofar as I’m busy all the time. But no money paid for my efforts. Not even benefits, actually. And as I began this piece, I hadn’t thought of the fact that nicely British though he may be, the Resident IT Consultant is also unemployed. Can all the voluntary work he does count as a mitigating factor?

The other day on Facebook Bali Rai had a little rant about the BNP who had left a leaflet but not stayed to engage in a discussion with him. I think he really wanted that chat. The same day I received my leaflet, also stuffed through my letterbox. I had hitherto imagined they might phrase their dislike for certain kinds of people a little more diplomatically, but no. It would appear all foreigners are unwanted. So that covers me, then. Don’t have a vote anyway. Daughter came home and read the leaflet, then asked if I would permit her to tear it into little pieces. I had pondered having it framed, but in the end I let her. As Son said when he heard, he hoped we recycled the paper. We did.

I’m writing this while listening to some foreign rubbish on iTunes. ABBA, since you ask. I’m blogging on a genuine IKEA pine table. It’s foreign, too, but maybe IK’s youthful leanings exonerate me?

And then, very serendipitously, a little book by the to me unknown Joe Layburn, called Street Heroes, arrived. It’s about a young boy whose father is leader of a British fascist party, and it deals with the confused feelings he has about his dad’s behaviour and his reputation at school. Basically it’s a quick lesson in fascism for very young readers, coupled with the history of the Battle of Cable Street and Mosley and the Jewish immigrants.

This time round it’s the Muslims who are the target, as well as many other ‘undesirables’ in London’s East End. It’s a very uneven story, and the fact that it depends on a fantasy element doesn’t help. But it deals with such important issues, that I can overlook that. The finishing pages are enough to make your hair stand on end, at least a little bit. Too many young people no longer learn anything about stuff like this.

So far, I’ve never had it suggested to me that I should go back to where I came from. Son has, on the other hand. There was a period when playing out on the street – our very leafy, pleasant, fairly well-off street – his so-called friend suggested he do that. I can only assume he meant the hospital a mile down the road. Do you reckon the maternity ward would have Son back?

These may be election-fevered days, but I’m not suggesting you vote for any particular party. I haven’t voted in a parliamentary election for about 19 years. That last time I took Son in his pushchair and invited a friend with another toddler-on-wheels to accompany us to the consulate. We left the solicitors’ firm, where the consulate was situated, in disgrace. I had had the temerity to tell the person there that her ‘polling station’ routine was incorrect (is it my fault I’d been trained to do her job?), and she wasn’t entirely happy with that. Well, that should teach my friend not to go anywhere with me again.

Anyway, even the best political party seems to go mad after winning an election. We’re all doomed.

2 responses to “No pasarán

  1. I wish there were more books reminding children not just of the racist moments of Britain’s past but also of its liberal history of openness to immigration. I’m reading a lot about the period of about 1870-1900, when the UK not only welcomed European political refugees but refused to collaborate with the authoritarian governments and secret services who wanted them extradited or prosecuted. I like to think there’s still some small tradition of that left, but all we seem to hear now is how we are encouraging terrorism.

    I’m sorry if you or your family are ever made to feel unwelcome – I would have done something a lot worse with the BNP leaflet…

  2. There are good citizens and bad citizens and I don’t see how that correlates with where you were born, whether you are a single parent (or the child of one) or indeed whether you are a lesbian vampyr!

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