Let’s go home, shall we?

Where is home? For any of us?

Now that so many people have lost all inhibitions on what to say to perfect strangers, suggesting they go back where they came from, the answer isn’t all that simple, even if we wanted to, or could return. We’d need to break up families, of course, since out of a family of four, say, we don’t all necessarily come from the same ‘wrong’ place.

That would be cruel, but say that we accepted this? Many people have lots of little bits of origin inside them. Do we split into atoms, to send the bits home? My former, slightly Irish, but otherwise very English, neighbour did one of those tests to see where his roots came from, and found he was partly Sami.

Son’s theory is that people have always said these things, as often as they’ve been saying them during the last ten days. The difference is that now it’s being reported. He could be right.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the four female poets who were touring the country. This was before the you-know-what. In Saturday’s Guardian, Jackie Kay and Imtiaz Dharker wrote about the change since then. It’s interesting that it was the two darker skinned poets who shared their thoughts, although presumably Carol Ann Duffy is also noticing the change.

We have relatives [similar age to Offspring] with an Indian background, and here I must admit to some shortsighted thinking on my part. All I see are young and pretty girls; girls I know to be both intelligent and successful at what they do, as well as being lovely people. Middle class and with thoroughly proper English accents, acquired from attending above average posh schools. But they too are being abused when they go out. Always have been, apparently. And I was so naïve that I had no idea this was happening.

I can’t say I’m ashamed of my country, because this isn’t my country. But I would be if it was. And it’s only since the reports that a Swedish mother and her young child were told to go home, after being overheard speaking Swedish to each other, that I’ve begun to wonder if I need to curtail my public chats in foreign languages as well.

The Resident IT Consultant worries about the NHS, and whether the time will come when they won’t treat me. I went to see a doctor at the hospital yesterday, and was determined to stay under the radar. It took him two minutes to ask where my accent was from…

7 responses to “Let’s go home, shall we?

  1. I am so sorry to hear this. I apologise for the ignorant of my country. We would not have an NHS without workers from other countries. It is hard to believe a doctor was being prejudiced.
    I, my family, my friends, are appalled at what is being said and done in our name. Millions and millions of UK citizens feel the same. Perhaps this vote will be reversible. I think in all countries there are prejudiced and ignorant people, here they have temporarily found a voice. We need to help them.They need better schools and a wider life and hope for a future that isn’t ‘signing on.’ But of course you know all that.
    Don’t go.Please don’t go. Don’t think of it. We want you here. You, and people like you,
    love Hilary

  2. Well, I’m thoroughly ashamed. But I also think it IS your country – one of them. During the Scottish referendum, it was emphasised that it was civic nationalism, not ethnic nationalism, that was sought and that everyone here was entitled to be a Scot. I’m an English Scot. You’re a Swedish Scot. Now, I’m not naive enough to think that everyone believes that or that Scotland is perfectly equal and tolerant. Far from it! But it’s a start.

  3. Kicki Eriksson-Lee

    I did a DNA test for health reasons. Fun plus was finding out about my DnNA heritage. I am 16% British & Irish. Which upset me at the time but could come in handy in these turbulent times I suppose. I blame the pillaging Vikings.

  4. You are all very kind.

    In fairness, I believe the doctor was making small talk. These days I tend to hope that my English twang hides the other twang, but not yesterday.

    True, Anabel, I reckon I can be my kind of Scot.

    And speaking of DNA, I wonder where my dark colouring comes from, other than one of my grandmothers.

    Then I wonder about the possible difference between tourists and foreign residents. Do the Leave people not want tourists? They invariably speak other langauges, while often bearing lots of money.

  5. A Dutch friend has been told to go home after being heard speaking Dutch to her bilingual daughter in the supermarket. Come to that, I’ve been told to “f*** off to Europe if I like it so much”. And I know I have non-British ancestry; one side of my father’s family came over from Germany in the 17th or 18th century. So where do the Leavers draw the line, I wonder?

    I think your son is right that the things said are being reported more now, but I also think people are less afraid to say them. As a friend put it (and I don’t know if this is original to him or not), “The trouble is not that half the population are racists. The trouble is that the racists now think half the country agrees with them.”

  6. It’s funny, though also very sad that the same kind of phenomenon seems to be happening over here, just under the guise of a presidential election. It’s disconcerting in both places that there are many more people willing to align themselves with racism and xenophobia than I would ever have imagined.

  7. Leslie Giles

    Being an ever-optimistic Scot living in the US, I hope (and pray) that what we are seeing is the death-throes of old attitudes as the world moves inexorably to universal acceptance. In the US, Trump is exposing the worst side of the Republicans – hopefully once he has been soundly defeated in the general election, the party can learn its lesson and move away from the racists and xenophobes (not necessarily the same thing) and become a real functioning party again; in Britain sadly the effects of the brexit vote will be much longer-lived.

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