Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Fear and loathing in West Wales - Part deux

Not a wargaming post, sorry. Please feel free to “jog on” as it were, if that’s what you were looking for. It’s a sort of soft rant I suppose. There’s going to be some bad language, politics and occasional scenes of nudity…

Only joking about the nudity by the way. Soz.

A couple of weeks ago I named this missive “Wish you weren’t here” but I deleted it without posting it. Several days back it became “Disquiet on the western front” only to meet a similar fate. I’ve resurrected it today partly because the victim support officer called this morning and partly because the matter has been bothering me and it might help put things into perspective by jotting it down. Hell it may even give you a laugh!

Since Brexit I’ve lost a lot of “friends”. Actually all of them come to think of it. Mr Cameron’s folly revealed a lot of fundamentally irreconcilable differences between us that I don’t think we even knew were there. In the run up to that dreadful vote a lid was lifted on Britain, exposing a hot mess of incoherent ignorance and prejudice. Naively I assumed it was an “English” thing but I was wrong…it’s here in West Wales as well.

In the height of the summer the wife and I toddled into our small market town to do some shopping. We have a blue badge because of my wife’s spinal tumour. The place was full of staycationers and as usual none of the disabled car parking spots were available - though many of the cars in them had no right to be there. We drove around for a while and I will admit I became increasingly annoyed by the situation. Finally at the top of the hill by the castle I found a disabled parking spot with the occupant busily unloading crates of milk from a flat bed truck. I wound down the window and I asked him if he were disabled.

“I’m unloading this milk - boy”, he said.

“I didn’t ask what you were f**king doing,” I replied tartly. “I asked if you were disabled.” (I know I know, not helpful - but hey who was in the wrong here?) It should be noted at this point that my Brummie accent always comes to the fore when I’m angry and it was probably this that became the trigger for what followed.

With English tourists and Welsh shopkeepers looking on in amazement the milkman went off on one - or “lost his sh*t” as I believe young people say.

Go on google it. I’ll wait.
 

“If you don’t like it, you can f**k off back to England boy…” he shouted advancing on the car with his fists bunched. 

I got out to meet him as he continued with a snappy “why don’t you f*ck off back to where you came from.” 

With a sudden jolt of realisation I recognised him as my neighbours milkman! Two blokes blocked his path so now all I could do was shout back, “It’ll only take me 5 minutes you daft twat… I frigging well live here.” 

It was also at this point that I realised I’d become the victim of what is known in modern parlance as a “hate crime”. I know, I know, but think about it for a moment. Okay I’m white middle class and retired…but how would his comments have looked if I’d been black or Asian, or whatever, and he’d told me to go back to where I came from. Was I any less sinned against?

Being single handedly responsible for a half mile tail back at this point, I drove off and finally located an unoccupied space. The missus made me have an ice cream so I could calm down. I mulled the matter over whilst my 99 (yeah with a flake and sprinkles!) melted slowly over my hand. 

Should I drive back down the road and dot the bugger on the nose - “old Skool” - or should I go all “woke” and seek redress another way? The man had, by any googled definition, just been responsible for a hate crime, something the Welsh government apparently was determined to take very seriously.

Mmmm. 

Ten minutes later I reported the incident to the police. I could sense their disbelief over the phone. Whatever the Welsh governments stance on the matter, things always run differently this far west. I assured my wife the issue would be swiftly kicked into the long grass and that I’d probably have to do the same to the milkman if I wanted any satisfaction. It wouldn’t be hard given he’d be delivering milk to next door the following morning!

I got a phone call from a bemused officer as soon as I got home. It was a new one on him he said, but he was mandated to deal with it as a serious matter. What did I want him to do? I wanted a written apology I said, keen to up the anti as it were. “And if Gerwyn the milkman,” (for tis he) “will not oblige?” he enquired. “I’ll be pressing charges,” I said, suddenly coming over all litigious.

Police cars were apparently despatched / dispatched? (guidance please) flecky stab vests donned and words of great import imparted. Gerwyn was all contrition. The next morning I was the proud owner of a very effusive letter of apology. 

Did it change anything? Probably not. If the bloke really does hate the English then making him grovel in a letter won’t improve matters one jot. Probably make it worse truth be told. 

Can you ever win in these situations? “Are haters always gonna hate?” as our American cousins might say?

My Welsh language course is now on semi permanent hold - and I’m once again looking wistfully back at France. Should we consider a return? Is it worth trying to fit in somewhere when you suspect you’re actually not wanted?

Of course with time I’ll be able to laugh this single incident off, rationalise it in some way. It’s already becoming just another one of my stories as I write. It makes me wonder though how others less fortunate than I and perhaps more obviously different than those around them cope with open prejudice day in day out. 

There’s that old saying about walking a mile in another mans shoes…which up to now I’ve always found funny. I mean…the stupid buggers never going to get his shoes back after giving you a mile head start now is he?

Something to mull over maybe and by tomorrow undoubted proof that one should never post while more than a little foxed. Lol.

Hic.


21 comments:

  1. Jbm life sadly does not revolve around model soldiers so great post. I will drop you a line in the morning as I have similar issues going on here 😎

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    1. No it doesn’t revolve around toy soldiers does it. Shame really. If all our wars were fought with them it’d be a far better place - as I tried to explain to Mr Blair the one time. Long story that I’ll save for another day. You’ve no idea how many times I’ve typed this. Cider and typ8n* don’t mix. Lol. Hope your issues are not too serious mate, but yeah, pm me tomoz and bring me up to speed.

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  2. Good on you for tackling the inconsiderate (and possibly Criminal) wanker. No reason why you should not have the support of the law in these circumstances. I take your point that it might not be help with this particular individual’s opinion in future, but the less it’s normalised then better.

    Ironically, aren’t the ‘white English’ half ‘Briton’, and therefore Welsh, genetically anyway?

    By the way, did he get any penalty for the parking offence?

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    1. Hey nundanket thanks for the positive comment. Tackling him about the parking was something that needed doing - it was the outcome that was the unsatisfactory part. Dealing with the issue in a “grown up” manner might have secured my wife’s approval (no cries of leave him it’s not worth it…this time, lol) but it’s certainly left me feeling slightly emasculated. Perhaps violence would have drawn a line under it there and then, (or started a major riot on Cardigan high street given the incendiary tourist / local mix that day). Do you know, in all the ensuing excitement I never asked what happened about the parking offence - which PC Davies confirmed had been captured on camera. Perhaps I should ask Gerwyn when he brings my neighbours their milk? What could possibly go wrong with such a gentle enquiry?

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  3. That was strong stuff for early morning. I may have to have a second coffee now. This is going to be trite, so prepare to be underwhelmed. I've lived in Scotland as an incomer for many decades now, and have come to the conclusion that there are arseholes everywhere. Any stupid local who has had a bad day (and/or too many beers) may potentially take offence at my accent, though in many cases I have lived here since before the specimen in question was born, so who's the incomer? I guess your milkman does not represent a majority view in your area, and I would also guess that if he has genuinely developed an anti-English stance then it may be the English-on-holiday who have radicalised him. [They certainly radicalise me a lot of the time, wherever I am]

    I guess if you had lamped him one it would have been satisfying for about 10 seconds (though I would have been keen to obtain a signed photo for my study wall), and it would certainly have done nothing for the xenophobia. Probably better just to radio up the Stukas and flatten his neighbourhood.

    I'm afraid humanity has slipped a few steps. We live in a society where people actually believe that their stupid views matter (because radio stations and idiot social media sites pretend that they do), where the old Angry Frank character of Harry Enfield's has become a national stereotype, where everything that is suboptimal is someone else's fault, and where hate rules all. Yeah - that's right - the Brexit Spirit. The movement to stop people abusing black footballers (for example) is a dead loss because there is a substratum of little wankers who want to impress their mates by being antisocial - it's easy for them, since the things you have to do to be bad are publicly defined.

    Nah - I've thought about it - you should have thumped him...

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    1. Morning Tony, hope I didn’t put you off your Weetybangs first thing. As usual your comments are spot on in every respect. I fear your final conclusion might also be correct. In this small town our paths are going to cross from time to time so who knows, maybe there will be a round two one day. First time in my life that I’ve tried to resolve such an issue in a grown up way, maybe because I’m getting older and slightly less “handy”, but I have to say it doesn’t feel like a satisfactory result. Hey ho. There are worse problems to have I’m sure.

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  4. It doesn't surprise me sadly that you encounter this in Wales. I'm 1/4 Welsh on my mother's side and we never had any issues when we popped over for holidays in the 1970's, but maybe I was too young to notice or remember. However when I moved to Bristol, I was amazed and the antipathy here to the Welsh and vice versa in Cardiff to the English. I worked with a Welsh lad who was ashamed when an English speaker walking into a pub in Wales and then everyone started talking in Welsh out of spite. And we all know what the Scots think of the English:(

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    1. Hey Steve, most of the people here have been very nice to us, at least to our face. The unsettling part is the suspicion that that’s all it is…to our face. Remember, just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you! Lol. As for going into local pubs, there are some in nearby Newcastle Emlyn I’ve been told (by lads in the dairy) to steer clear of. Shame. I’m beginning to feel like a German teenager in the 1960’s, constantly having to disavow a country whose historic actions I wouldn’t have agreed with and was too young to influence anyway.

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    2. Steve - "we all know what the Scots think of the English :(" - good grief - apart from the fact that I doubt whether you know anything of the sort, was that a conscious attempt at irony or are you just demonstrating that racism is, in fact, universal?

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    3. I was being ironic but sadly have experienced racism/discrimination from Scots from time to time, ditto when I've been to 'the North'. I have also seen the reverse 'down South' to those North of the border. I have lived in Africa as a VSO for 5 years and have and have experienced the same thing there. All of the above have been from the idiot minority I'm glad to say. My old boss from Scotland always hated it with 'the anyone but England' to win mentality shown at the Euros or World Cup, with it sadly resurfacing again in the last tournament.

      I have an African wife and mixed race children so am acutely aware of the racism/discrimination issue, but it saddens me to see that it still exists, often barely under the surface. I can only hope that we will learn to live together and embrace our different cultures etc...

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  5. JBM… I suspect Gerwyn the Milk is a classic dickhead and if he got his own way and all the unwanted English/Tourists/Visitors were expelled from Wales…
    He would still be a classic dickhead… but a dickhead wondering where half his milk round went and why a lot of the shops in the high street had closed…
    I bet he can’t paint toy soldiers…

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Oh Aly that’s brilliant. If only I’d have thought of it I could’ve challenged him to a “paint off” to settle the matter. Lol.

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  6. This sort if thing seems to be normalised these days...it makes you wonder where all these gits have been hiding, only to pop up having been emboldened by the whole Brexit thing (or whatever it is that's given them the itch to let rip)

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    1. Thing is Jim they must have been there all along…I just never realised until 2016.

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  7. An unfortunate incident (we have the same issue with people using disabled parking here in NZ sometimes), exacerbated by the anti English part - doubtless Taff the Milk would have been just as big a twat if you had a Welsh accent - he just would not have had a simple and convenient peg to hang his hat on. Being an ex pat Scot of 30+ years standing, I can confirm that while I think hate is a strong word, I had a reasonable level of antipathy towards England and the English in the "any one but England to win" mind set - or cheering on the CRS any time they got the chance to kick the shit out of visiting England supporters. This has more or less gone from my psyche now, along with the knee jerk reaction that any one with a public school accent must be a tosser etc - maybe its maturity but I think its more about being on the other side of the world - a counter reaction to the ANZAC antipathy to England and all things English - which is pretty strong, I have to tell you. I worked with a young guy from your part of the world a couple of years ago who took pretty strong exception to being called a Pom - I could not really figure out why but thinking about it, I think its because in the UK, there is no generic, pejorative collective name for the English - we are Jocks, the Welsh are Taffs, the Irish are Paddies or Micks, then there are slightly more offensive terms for different ethnic minorities - but nothing for your bog standard Anglo Saxon Angles - so I think my work colleague was genuinely offended and put "Pom" in the same category as Paki or Chink - which I dont think it is, to be honest - he was just a bit thin skinned!
    As to your reply above - 100% they have always been there - at least 20% of the population are morons, in any context!
    Oh and by the way, clocking Blodwyn would not have been a great idea cos then PC Davies would have been charging you under section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861!

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    1. I was invariably referred to as 'Sassenach' on Scotland, which means 'Saxon' if IIRC. Rather like my in-laws call me 'Bature' or 'Mallam Bature', which means 'white man/foreigner'. Yoruba would call me 'Oyibo', the Igbo 'Onyacha', both meaning the aforementioned. All of these could be used 'offensively' of as terms of endearment. At times it still drives me up the wall, but most of the time I just ignore it.

      I didn't realise the 'Kiwis' hated the English, but then the comedian Al Murray did a tiv programme recently entitled, 'Why does Everyone Hate The English'? or words to that effect. My daughter and I discussed this but to be honest I can't remember what we concluded, if we in fact did!

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    2. Hi Steve, I think it’s fairly natural to have a banter like disregard or to lightheartedly mock the attributes / failings of the “adjacent tribe” but when that tips over into an unhealthy hatred it doesn’t take long for scapegoating and a whole host of crap that goes along with that. I can take banter - hell I can do “Bantz” myself but naked hostility is disconcerting from those you had perhaps naively considered yourself to be part of.

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  8. Just to lighten the mood, I had to find this You Tube clip and come back to post it...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-GWSP7pYBs hope it makes you laugh as much as it did me, watching for about the tenth time!

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    1. Gosh Michael Macintrye before he became chubby! Thanks for sharing - made me laugh!

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  9. There are dickheads everywhere and reaching for a racist reaction is just laziness on the part of the milkman. Most people everywhere are mostly alright I've found, I've got an irrational dislike for Tottenham, apart from being an Arsenal supporter, Tottenham started at the end of the garden of the house I was born in in Hornsey, so we make up our tribes even if we don't already have them,having said all that I'm ethnically mostly Ulster Irish of both sorts and you learn to tread a little wearily, having worked in Belfast with a religiously mixed workforce ( wouldn't even come up as an issue in the rest of the UK) HR had some pretty stringent boundaries! I hope you don't feel too let down by your current adopted country and I also hope it's an isolated occurrence, especially as I have just dropped my daughter off at Aberystwyth to start 3 years of university!
    Best Iain

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    1. Hey Iain, I’ve got over it all now thanks. I always find that writing things down helps me get things into perspective. I think your daughter will be fine in Aberystwyth they are far more cosmopolitan in the larger conurbations. Never considered the religious aspect to discrimination - which adds a whole new nasty element to the issue. People…hah. They’re great aren’t they!

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