I recall an acquaintance who used to eat in a way that made sitting at table with her a full on horror B movie. The woman was blessed with an impressively large mouth but also seemingly powerful jaws. As she masticated, the orifice would open and close wide each time revealing the increasingly mashed and saliva-slicked contents. Accompanying the gruesome visuals were a selection of smacking and schlomping, slurping and squelching, sucking and smashing noises; the kind of effects you might get if a mixture of cold offal and landfill was placed in a rusty concrete mixer on full power. Occasionally, as the cavernous hole gaped and closed, chomping and gnawing, half or even fully chewed bits of food would escape, sometimes projected by the sheer energy of what was going on in the gob, across the table. It was both sickening and fascinating. One of this woman’s favourite topics of conversation was other people’s table manners.
For some reason the revolting image above crashes to the forefront of my mind when I hear/read more media hysteria on subjects such as East Europeans coming to Britain to fling themselves into the waiting arms of our welfare system. Many of them – if you believe the hysterical headlines – criminals who are just waiting for the rules to change so they can make their way to our shores (yes there is a ridiculous contradiction in that last sentence).
I listen confounded to news readers with that us-&-them tone underpinning items of international news. Just as in one of my favourite performance poetry pieces African Journalist in England – I wonder what reporters from other continents and countries make of this little island’s arrogance and self deception.
Do the people of Portugal and Spain run long bitter reports on their news channels about the ex-pats turning vast swathes of their country into a kind of outdoor old people’s home-cum-golf course? Does Thailand consider everyone in Britain to be a potential paedophile because they see so many western men using their country for sex tourism? Do people on the large beautiful much abused continent of Africa despair as yet another generation of privileged western travellers use their land as a white man’s playground – from hug-an-orphan safaris to the white’s only clubs that are now implied rather than legal in many more developed areas and where indigenous people are turned into servants in their own homeland. Do the people of the Philippines laugh or cry when they hear boasts of the millions of pounds in aid that we in Britain congratulate ourselves on raising to support the thousands up on thousands of victims of ever increasingly extreme weather devastation? Do they think about how wealthy western nations are disproportionately contributing to the very climate change that makes their lives more fragile? Do they compare the few millions in aid to the multi-multi millions they have to pay in debt to the World Bank after western governments leant freely to the corrupt Marcos regime? Do they?
What do struggling nations make of a country where the wealthy live in a land of more than plenty but still feel the need to contrive to dodge tax, secreting enough in off-shore accounts to make Midas blush.
And so young ambitious people continue to migrate to Britain, as they do to all developed countries. The stats tell us unequivocally that the vast majority work and are driven to achieve and be successful – those that are not escaping conflict and who deserve nothing but our sympathy and help. The working immigrants far outweigh the so-called benefit tourists and not only that – with an aging and poorly educated (by western standards) population – many of those immigrants – through their taxes – support our own unemployed and sick.
Granted we can be proud of marmalade and David Attenborough but really it’s time for crabby old Aunty Britannia to shut the F up.
Happy 2014 and here is a list of
Most popular blogs of 2013
Blog 23What is Love – (philosophy of Wil-e-coyote)
Blog 31 Oh Shut Up
Blog 39 What is the point of Newcastle City Council?
Blog 53 I suffer from PANTS syndrome
Blog 58 Chri£tma$ - we who are about to buy salute you!
Most popular blog of 2012
Blog10 My One Night Stand with the ghost of Bill Farrell
Most popular cartoon 2013 (based on sales of prints at the Love Libraries events last autumn)
Posted in the usual place – click on the orange Amanda Baker in the right hand column to view.