As I was Tomato-ing yesterday I came across an article in The Guardian. It was a review of a book in which the author seemed to be saying that multiculturalism isn’t a good idea because – and I quote, from memory at least – ‘We are more comfortable when we are with our own kind.’ Now, leaving aside the question ‘what is our own kind?’ and assuming that he is not specifically being racist as he doesn’t say one race is necessarily superior, just that white English people should hang out with white English people, there is still an awful lot wrong with this statement. If you’re going to stick with what is comfortable, well – I am more comfortable sitting on the sofa watching TV than I am getting out my laptop and writing a story. Should I therefore stick with the sofa? Of course not. Nothing is ever achieved by sticking to your comfort zone – and the likely consequence of people sticking with their own is that their horizons will shrink and shrink until you get the kind of ridiculous parochialism I experienced when living in Leigh, Lancashire. I told my friends one day that I was going to Wigan. ‘What d’yer wan’ go thur fer?’ was the response. ‘They’re all pie-eyters over thur.’
That was the local name for Wiganners in Leigh, though I never understood why: they also had a very entertaining name for people from the nearby town of Westhoughton. These were known as ‘cay-yeds’ or ‘cow-heads’ because, so the story goes, there was once a local farmer who kept cows. One day he installed a new gate which he had made himself – and when one of his cows got its head stuck in this gate and couldn’t get it out, rather than chop up his precious gate, he chopped the cow’s head off!
In the local dialect the town of Leigh was called ‘Leyth’ and nearby Atherton and Tyldesley were known as ‘Bent’ and Bongs’. I spent a couple of cold and unprofitable evenings once helping distribute a local alternative magazine called ‘Leyth, Bent and Bongs’ round all the pubs in the district and not stopping for even one beer! I was most disgruntled, and the locals were deeply uninterested in the magazine’s ‘Private-eye’ style reportage.
Here’s a site Mark was looking at this morning:
I’m more comfortable with mockney, myself. Perhaps I should have stayed in London…
PS Oh, and I’ve started a group on Facebook for peri- and post-menopausal women to share their experiences. It’s called Crazy Crones, so if you’re interested send me a request.