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’. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0018ljt
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…… https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/05/14/just-a-good-pace-to-eat/
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.