Thursday, 27 August 2009

Things I hear in the pub: #1, Casual Racism

Ebony and Ivory...

Somehow, casual racism has worked its way into the family sense of humour. That sounds bad, I know. We're not actually racists. We don't even read the Daily Mail or anything.

However, a small, unbelievably Caucasian village in middle England is the type that breeds, 'I'm not a racist, but...' friendly xenophobia.

It's the kind of ignorant friendly xenophobia that arises when there are so few non-white, English people that they become a kind of weird novelty when they do arrive. Although, in the 'Shire a new dog or increased villager body mass becomes a major talking point. Over the last three shifts I've worked in my local I've spent approximately thirty-four minutes discussing how many wasps there are this year, and another twelve minutes regarding the different spray deterrents available and their comparative benefits.

So, earlier on, in reference to the news headline of a population increase, Daddy Bowlface made the hilarious (it did eek a snort out of me, actually) joke of, 'I bet they're all forin' [sic]. Yes, this is obviously hugely politically incorrect, but funny because it's not from an origin of real racism, and because most funny jokes are politically incorrect. I clearly don't laugh when Geordie taxi drivers have a go at Polish 'spring rolls' - where that slang came from I've no idea - or decide to generate a National Front rally in the middle of the city.

Returning to the novelty of non-Shire folk, and pub conversations, we had a couple of guys drinking outside who, OMG, weren't English. Thus ensued a hushed narrative from the landlady:
'Now, there's a couple of...gentlemen sitting outside, and they want to eat, and I had to tell them that we don't start serving until six thirty. But they're not English, you see, I think they're German, or maybe Dutch. So I don't think they understand.'

They understood perfectly well. They were also Norwegian, despite another hushed, heavily accented conversation regarding the differences and similarities between Dutch and German accents. I don't think any of the over-sixties taking part had ever really met a Dutchman or a German before, however, I'm sure this conversation was repeated to everyone they met for the next two days, a la wasp.

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