Living Our Life

By Bernie Bell

I/we are still being Covid Care-full and staying home – not minding too much in some ways.   Missing going to music, art or archaeology exhibitions and events, but mostly missing going out for meals – though sometimes those things  could be combined – a quick meal at the the Empire Chinese Restaurant, then an Orkney Archaeology Society talk.  An evening of delights!

We’re watching a television series this week about the lives of an Asian immigrant family in Birmingham – ‘Back in Time for Birmingham’.

Though the series is based in Birmingham I’m very much reminded of my childhood and particularly my teenage years in Bradford – and it’s making me very wistful about going to the Indian Garden……

Mike makes very good curries – some of which really are up to restaurant standard – but it’s not the same without the people and the music. Memories of Bradford curry houses with a juke-box of Asian music – the Indian Garden has similar music and Bollywood films.  Putting on a Bhangra C.D. just isn’t the same….. 

We were wondering when/if we’ll feel that the time is right for us to go to the Indian Garden again…….

We’re enjoying the programmes.  As Mike went to Bradford University he encountered some of the same Bradford  that I grew up with – though it was different for me I was right in there with the people, the food, the music, the beautiful fabrics in the Sari Centre on Manningham Lane and the smell of the corner shop – the mixture of spices – an evocative memory – still strong.  We’re having curry for tea tonight – the power of suggestion!

Mostly, the programme makers have covered the time and the subject matter very well – even the practice of leaving the plastic covers on new furniture so’s it wouldn’t get worn – many people did that, and it made it very hot and uncomfortable to sit on!   One thing I think they’ve got wrong though is that, so far, the family don’t have any non-Asian friends – even the young ones don’t.  Last night’s episode was set in the 70’s, and that’s when me and my mates were out and about together – Indian, Pakistani, Malaysian, Irish, Scots, Ukrainian, English.  That was the reality – I know – I was there!

The programme makers didn’t shy away from the racism of the time – and I remembered the song  we used to chant about Enoch Powell…..

“You make me feel like a used Elastoplast, baby

You make me feel like a broken plaster-cast, baby

You make me feel like a Fascist git

You make me feel like a bag o’ shit

Oh oh we don’t want you Enoch

Oh oh we don’t want you Enoch.”

Funnily enough, I can’t find the lyrics on Google!

There is one instance where the Sharma’s shop is targeted by the National Front, who daubed the window with their abusive slogans. 

At about this time my friends older brother worked in London, where he researched the rise of the National Front, and one thing which he discovered was that the turnover of the NF membership was greater then the consistent membership.   It looked like people joined it, then lost interest.  Maybe they grew up a bit. 

This was encouraging because no organization is sustainable in those circumstances.  And look at what happened – they caused a lot of trouble and pain to people for a time – and now?  Well, maybe stronger laws mean they know they can’t get away with the things they used to.  Constant vigilance will be needed to prevent those laws from being eroded as so many laws are being eroded in these dark times.

The NF had their chants too…..

“If they’re white they’re alright

If they’re black, send them back

If they’re red shoot them dead.” 

Though – they don’t seem to have thought it through as many of the people they didn’t want in Britain because they were immigrants were ‘white’, with a tendency to very fair skin – Irish and East European.  

My friend’s brother directed a film about domestic abuse……. ‘Scream Quietly Or The Neighbours Will Hear’  based on a book by Erin Pizzey ….

We need to make sure that all laws and attitudes based on consideration for others are maintained.

And meanwhile I’m looking to when our lives will be less constrained by Covid, and hoping that the laws which give the land where we live a basis of opportunity and fair treatment for all will still be in place.

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5 replies »

  1. That’s your choice.

    I’m not prepared to risk being seriously ill again, or risk putting Mike through what he went through when I was ill, again.
    That’s our choice.

    Wearing a mask isn’t just for the protection of the individual wearing it – it’s for the protections of those around them, and, ultimately for the good of society as a whole.

    Is it a lot to ask? No.

    I do get tired of explaining this to people who are only looking at their own situation and not taking on board that the behaviour of each us, influences the outcome for all of us. The less care most people take, the more care the vulnerable have to take, and the longer it will be before life can be lived without so much risk, for all of us.

    I was watching Glastonbury on the telly, when the camera swept round over the crowd, and my heart sank. All those people, young people, crammed together. Yes, it was outdoors but – absolutely crammed together. Young people who, if they catch Covid and are left with Long Covid, it could mess up their lives. Also – the future is theirs so you would think that they would be keen to work towards a future in which it is actually reasonable behaviour to mix with people and get on with life again.
    Collective denial. Britain is in collective denial. The world is in collective denial. These situations simply should not be happening.

    I switched channels – didn’t want to see it.


  2. An after-thought…… I realise that people could say that it’s OK for me to be so picky about being careful, as I have Mike to shop for me etc. but – what I’m on about are the things that happen that don’t need to happen. For work or school, if everyone did a test and, if negative, went into work/school, wore a mask, and hand sanitized when appropriate – work/school is possible. There would probably still be Covid cases, but I honestly think not anything like as many as there are now. It’s the unnecessary, and especially the excessive, mixing with people now that no care is being taken that gets me.

  3. I agree that taking as many precautions as possible when out is very wise. Keeping your distance and wearing a mask is a small price to pay. But even so, it’s still a risk going anywhere. I have to take it because I have to work.
    Large gatherings like Glastonbury are inevitably going to cause a spike in covid unfortunately. I wasn’t implying anyone should take unnecessary risks with covid.

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