There is plenty of anecdotal and actual evidence that anti-English racism exists in
It is not as if we English who live in
I had a low level dispute with someone in Port Seton, which is less than seven miles from where I have lived for the past six years. I was sitting down to enjoy my fish supper, along with other people, on the quayside, when the woman and her daughter on the next seat began feeding the seagulls. They starting swooping and it looked as though I was going to lose my lunch or get it pooped on. So I said, “Do you mind not doing that?” and explained why. Now, you could argue that she should have ignored me, or just told me to feck off. But no, she said, and I quote, “We live here”.
18 years is also the length of time one paper reported as the period of residence of Lucy Newman. You may recall the name. She was beaten up in
Our obvious and defining difference is our accent, but of course, it does not make us English. Scots who have lived South of the Border also have experienced racism if they have picked up an English accent. But accent is the most immediate and problematic, unless you are unfortunate enough (some would say “stupid” enough, to wear English nationalist emblems, or fly the flag of St George, or indeed give yourself away.
On my first ever visit to
Many of us now find we are reluctant to open our mouths in public. I don’t mean among the educated classes, I mean in public, among the hoi-polloi and the shopkeepers and low level council officials.
I personally have lost count of the racist comments and behaviour, from out and out undisguised hate to bland misunderstandings.
The most regular, and mild, and yet most irritating is “Are you on holiday?” Sounds mild enough, but ask that of a black person or a third generation Pakistani and you are on very thin ice.
There is a kind of politeness up here which is in some ways refreshing, but it is very thin; there always seems to be latent racism lurking under the veneer of cordiality.
Recently I thought I had broken the barrier and made some Scottish friends. It turns out that all of them are either English born, or half English or married to an English person. My business dealings are about 90% with English people who live here. I did not choose this state of affairs; I have been deliberately snubbed, told blatant lies and ignored because I was English. These days, if I am in a bar with my one Scots friend, whose mother is English, I get him to order the drinks.
I think that what is most depressing is the apathy with which racism is viewed here, and by that I mean all racism. It is so bad, that people casually throw out one liners about "pakis" without batting an eyelid. None of the major parties, the SNP included, are touching this issue with a bargepole.
I have the pleasure of representing a few Scottish musicians. Except that when I try to get posters put up in shops that carry dozens of such things, I have been told "no". I have tried to book venues and been told "no", and yet when my Scottish friends have called the same venue, they have been told, "yes". Either that or they nod and agree to put the posters up and then don't. You see, they think I am doing something "English". The worst was a tartan shop, when in my polite enquiry as to whether the shopkeeper would put up a poster he told me that he did not do that. And yet, there was already one in the window for a local session, and a week later there were four!
Those who come on holiday for a week and think Scotland is wonderful, well it is, but like anywhere, they are happy to take your money and smile, but if something goes wrong, they don't want to know, which is more or less what tourists get the world over. The trouble is, I am not a tourist, I live here!