When we were at junior school in the sixties there were a number of kids who were poorer than the rest of us. They lived in caravans in a farmer’s field. Some of their fathers were in prison and their mothers on the game. They wore clothes that were full of holes and didn’t fit, and because they had no washing facilities they were sometimes smelly.
None of us were posh. We were all working class children but we looked down on these other kids all the same, held our noses when they came close to us and tried not to touch them in case we caught their germs. The teachers were not much better; when the poor children needed additional help they didn’t get it; when they misbehaved they were sent home; when one of them stole some money the police were called in and everybody tutted and said what can you expect from the scruffs.
One day a girl called Maureen turned up at school. She lived with her dad in a room above a hardware shop, stayed for about a month and never spoke to anyone, nor was spoken to herself, till the day she disappeared again. Another time there was a Scottish boy called Robert. He was from Glasgow, spoke differently to the rest of us and although the teacher specifically asked us to be kind to him he was beaten up at the end of his first day and he and his family moved on again shortly afterwards, no doubt to a place where Robert would immediately be bashed again.
There were other vulnerable children around as well; shy girls, quiet boys, roarers, mardarses, thickies and weeds. The school housed a Partial Hearing Unit and so, behind the backs of the deaf boys and girls, we would do impressions of them, making loud and incomprehensible noises. One of the deaf girls, Anita, had learning difficulties and was cross-eyed. We boys played games like “If tha treads on a crack tha fancies Anita”. Girls would say “Who am I?” Then they’d stick their tongues out, make themselves go cross –eyed and make mong noises in a hideous parody of their unfortunate classmate.
One day someone shit him/herself and left a turd on the veranda. There was no evidence to say that Fishy had done it but for some reason the finger pointed at him and he was mocked and ridiculed so much afterwards that he refused to come to school again and had to go instead to a different part of town and attend the establishment known to all as the Loony Bin.
We were a pretty nasty bunch, weren’t we? Then again, we were all under 11 years old and, even when we knew better, the risks involved in not colluding with the torment of the vulnerable were too great and so we all joined in. If we hadn’t, it might have been us on the receiving end and we were too scared not to make avoiding that fate our number one priority.
That’s enough mea culpa now, though. We grow up and see things differently. We learn more about empathy and sympathy, we think about why some people are shy or dirty and we take the trouble to show some kindness and consideration to those less fortunate.
Or do we?
Pictures of the Calais Jungle Camp, taken today after the bulldozers had been busy, look very much like the caravan site where those dirty children lived in 1966. As for the people who have been living in the camp, it seems that as long as they don’t try to come to the UK millions of our citizens could not give a hoot what happens to them any more than my class of primary school kids cared about Maureen or the scruffs. When 10 year olds act like bullies their youth is a valid excuse, but the Daily Express isn’t edited by junior schoolchildren and Nigel Farage does not wear short trousers.
I’ve just come back home after popping in to the Asda store across the road where I was pleased to see several copies of today’s Sun left unsold. The front page screamed POLE CHANCERS. MIGRANTS’ GUIDE TO RAKING IN UK BENEFITS. Never mind that British citizens have an equal right to live in Poland and claim benefits there, a useful guide to British benefits has been printed in order to inform Polish people of their rights should they come to live here. So why chancers? Is there any logical reason why someone from Poland should be denied a basic subsistence level of income, which is all they will get if they rely on the UK’s benefit system, just because they were not born in the UK? Tomorrow the same paper will probably accuse migrants of taking our British jobs; the dirty foreigners don’t just claim all our benefits but they steal all our jobs as well, apparently, which sounds like a contradiction to anyone who thinks about it for more than a second. Whatever; an unemployed Pole, according to the Sun, is a chancer.
Here’s a selection, nicked from Google Images, of headlines on the subject of that subhuman species known as Bastardus Migrantus. It’s what the British media would look like if 10 year olds were in charge but all of these contributions came from adults:
CALAIS: SEND IN THE ARMY
THE SWARM ON OUR STREETS
HALT THE ASYLUM TIDE NOW
BRITAIN MUST BAN MIGRANTS
IMMIGRANTS BRING MORE CRIME
MIGRANT NUMBERS OUT OF CONTROL
MIGRANTS SEND OUR CRIME RATE SOARING
EU WANTS MIGRANTS TO TAKE OUR JOBS
MIGRANT NUMBERS AT CRISIS POINT
WE MUST STOP THE MIGRANT INVASION
FOREIGN WORKERS TAKE YET MORE UK JOBS
MIGRANTS SWARM TO BRITAIN
WE CAN’T STOP MIGRANT CHAOS
MIGRANTS TAKE ALL NEW JOBS IN BRITAIN
ILLEGALS HAVE LANDED
ONE IN 5 BRITONS WILL BE ETHNICS
BENEFITS BRITAIN HERE WE COME!
DRAW A RED LINE ON IMMIGRATION. OR ELSE
SEND THEM ALL BACK HOME
MIGRANTS SHUN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
500,000 MIGRANTS GET SOCIAL HOUSING
HOW ROMANIAN CRIMINALS TERRORISE OUR STREETS
YOU PAY TO TEACH MIGRANTS MANNERS
BRITAIN TO BUILD 2 MILLION HOMES FOR MIGRANTS
NO JOB UNLESS YOU’RE POLISH
NOW UN MEDDLER LECTURES BRITAIN ON MIGRANTS
BRIT KIDS FORCED TO EAT HALAL SCHOOL DINNERS
THEY’VE STOLEN ALL OUR JOBS
FRANCE TELLS BRITAIN LET IN ALL MIGRANTS
And so it goes on, day after day after day. As I sit at my keyboard and glance outside to check whether the swarm of ill-mannered job-stealing benefit-claiming ethnic criminals has reached my street yet I wonder who all this hateful rubbish is intended to appeal to. Someone around here is crazy, and I honestly don’t think it’s me.