Just because I am of the nordic model of human, when I walk down the street I count as British. When I open my mouth, this Britishness is confirmed to everyone because of my accent. Because Abbie is a mix of Turkish and Pakistani, he counts as an immigrant.
The difference between Abbie and me is that I have only lived in this country for the last two years, well if you discount my time here as a child.
I spent my most formative years in Sweden, where I really became aware of things, and there is a strong side of the silent Nordic type in me. Abbie is second generation British citizen, and has lived here in this town all his life.
His parents are both Londoners who moved out of the Greater London area for economic pressure and work related issues back in the 1990s. Abbie’s dad got a job as a lorry driver here, and moved the family from London to this town.
I am British because of my whiteness and my accent. He is not that because of his ethnic background. Yet any cursory examination should show that things are reversed. I am the immigrant, and Abbie is not. However, I would never be targeted by the Home Office’s roving vans telling immigrants to go home, but Abbie would.
We were talking about this today. ‘We’ being Ben, I, and one of the girls that Ben fancies and who he invites everywhere so that she will be the one who takes the first step. I’ve told him to spit it out already, to her, but he has his own tactics in the game of love.
This girl made the unfortunate comment that she was half-thinking about voting UKIP so that the Romanians would be blocked from coming here. It is one of those quirks of the English that they think that the entire world wants to come here, and that if they do they’ll be here to exploit the benefit system.
I mean, what does that make me? I came here in this country exclusively to go to school, and I could have gone to the Swedish equivalent and gotten a decent enough education there. But I begged and whined and cajoled my parents to allow me to come here. By doing so I presumably pushed a more deserving native kid out of a spot.
My odd situation is that my parents are quite rich, and yet I came here to use a tuition free college so that I could get into a snobby university at the end of it. If a Romanian comes here to do back-breaking work picking potatoes off a field, and then earning pittance and paying national insurance, what does that make me who can afford to do whatever?
This girl made me think of Abbie, and how idiots sometimes provoke him with the ‘go home’ attitude of the complacent minds that are in such a majority around here. Abbie who is so British, and so English, yet lack the prerequisite skin colour to really count. And me who don’t even pretend to call myself English, because I’m really not. I who is never challenged about what I’m doing here simply because of my skin colour and my accent.
Eventually she just left, and I had to ask Ben why he was interested in her to begin with with those kinds of half-processed views. He couldn’t tell me, and who am I to delve into the deeper impulses of the male libido? I can’t understand my own, much less other guys’.
Speaking of libido, this Christmas is going to be awful because I am going to Sweden to visit my dad and his new girlfriend, and I’m going to go alone. In the cheap-skate state we’ve fallen into with the house and it’s sale this summer, we decided that we couldn’t afford two plane tickets.
I will go to Sweden, and Mark will go to his parents in Wiltshire, and we will reunite and have a splashing New Year’s party instead since we celebrate that thing more than Christmas anyway. I will leave on the 23rd and come home on the 26th.
The likely thing is, though, that what we save on the plane tickets will be spent on international phone roaming charges.