Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thoughts from the Train: If the BNP want me to leave, where would they suggest that I go?

Funny really, I mused, on hearing that the BNP are quite relaxed about me staying in this country if they form a government - do I get my citizen's assault rifle? - given my non-standard ethnic origins. However, I presume that I fall into the category of 'people who would be offered incentives to go home'.

Ah yes, home. Home is a complex subject for me. You see, for me home is the family base in Mumbai, from whence the Valladares family spring. No matter where we are in the world, Auckland or Toronto, Boston or London, my generation have an invisible thread that ties us to Mahim. We don't get there very often, but it is the one place that brings us all together. But home is also Kingsbury, in North London, where (for the most part) I was raised and where my parents, who are so much a part of who and what I am, still live, thirty years on. When I visit them (not often enough, I fear), I think of it as going home, to a house that, despite its changes, still evokes memories. And finally, home is our cottage in Creeting St Peter where, possibly for the first time in my life, I have experienced a sense of community, of, ironically, heimat. I tidy the village noticeboard from time to time, I'm a Parish Councillor, I fret about litter, about how to clean a road sign.

So, if the BNP are to decide one day to turn up at my door, and suggest, no matter how politely, that I should accept their generous offer to incentivise me to go home, I'm afraid that they'll need to tell me where they think home is, because it isn't clear to me where that is. I suspect that they'll have a good idea where I should be though.

It is, I suppose, a question of definition. I think of myself as an Englishman, I like Elgar, cricket and real ale. And yet, I am proud of my Indian Catholic heritage, of the hint of Scots (my mother was born in northern Scotland). I like the fact that my surname confuses people - hispanic in origin, yet having no connection to a Spanish-speaking country. I am, for want of a better phrase, difficult to pigeonhole.

Perhaps that is why I take an interest in issues of equality. Looking at me, most people are clueless as to my background. I occasionally liken myself to Zelig, that famous Woody Allen character who could fit in anywhere. I like the idea that people should be treated on their merits, not on the basis of what they look or sound like.

I'm sure that if any member of the BNP reads this, they will have an answer, whether I like it or not. But then, I compicate their simplistic black and white view of the world...

1 comment:

T said...

I think that the one thing that the Great British people said loud and clear last month was that they didn't fall for any of that b*ll*cks about sending anyone "home". The BNP have no credibility when they claim to speak for "ordinary Britons". Ordinary Britons could see that the answer to the mess that we are in is not to resort to the politics of hate. One of the defining traits of Britishness is our openness to other cultures and our tolerance. The resounding defeat of the BNP in every partliamentary constituency that they fought, and their being kicked off nearly every council, means that we can be proud of being British again.