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Monday, December 04, 2006

Accidental Xenophobia 

I like to think I'm fairly free of bigotry, however, I've heard it said that everyone is a little bit racist, a little bit sexist, a little homophobic (even if you're gay!).

On Saturday, I was a little racist, although not really of my own choosing, three times.

The first time was on the train. David, Graham and myself were on our way into London to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory. That was excellent, by the way, and well worth seeing.

On the train there was a girl. If the Olympics had speaking loudly as an event, she would have won gold, silver and bronze for her country. We couldn't identify where she was from. I thought she was Spanish, possibly Catallan, but David thought Scandinavian or Eastern European.

She was annoying, I can tell you that much. She was, however, annoying because she was loud, not because she was loud and foreign. I can't decide if understanding what she was saying would have made any difference.

The second incident occurred when we went for a quick bite to eat before the show. We went into a greasy spoon/kebab shop and encountered one of the strangest individuals I have ever met.

You expect certain ways of being served in different places. If you go to a posh hotel for tea, for instance, you'd expect really polite waiters and lots of smart uniforms. I didn't expect that when I went into the kebab shop. I did pitch my expectations at the correct level for such an establishment. What I wasn't expecting, however, was, when I ordered a jacket potato (it was on the menu!) with coleslaw, to be greeted with an expression I would have received if I'd asked to eat his children.

I wasn't impressed with him. Nor was I impressed by his inability to hold the tea order in his head for longer than three seconds. I don't think what I thought of him was racist. He was foreign but also not entirely gifted.

The third incident was after the show. We had to walk through a group of black youths to get to the station. I was a little scared. Again, I thought I was being racist at the time but, in hindsight, I would have felt exactly the same, or perhaps worse, had I had to walk through a group of white youths.

There was a definite prejudice there. It was not, however, racial in origin but ageist. I have never liked teenagers, even when I was one myself.

Perhaps I am a bigot, in that case. Can you be a Youthist, I wonder? Sign me up, now!

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