Monday, 27 May 2019

Feeling like running away!

Brexit Party Booming! Tories in turmoil! Labour in limbo! Greens going for it! The results of the European elections are much as expected. Where do we go from here? I truly hate to see the odious Farage getting so much support but I am not really surprised. One bit of good news though, Tommy Robinson only got 2.2% of the votes and slunk away from the voting centre in Manchester trying not to be seen in his moment of shame. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving victim!

It sounds as though the same mind of turmoil is going on in other countries of Europe as well. Change is coming one way or another.

I had thought the more blatant racism we have been seeing in this country was a consequence of Brexit, a kind of license given to those who thought that way to express their feeling freely at any time and in any way. But now I read that in Germany Jews are being advised not to wear the kippah in public for fear of attacks of one kind or another. What is the world coming to?

In the weekend paper a young man of mixed race who calls himself an Afropean, a very good term in my opinion, described going around Europe looking at the state of things for black and mixed race folk. His travels took him to Paris where he learnt, among other things, that the writer Alexandre Dumas was a descendent of slaves.

The writer’s West African grandmother, Marie-Cessette was a slave on a plantation in Haiti in the late 1700s. A French nobleman bought her for her beauty, took her off to France, and had four children with her. When his finances went awry he sold the 4 children back into slavery. Later he bought back his son, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, and sent him to a military school in Paris. Thomas-Alexandre became a general and the highest ranking black soldier in Europe’s history. His son was Alexandre Dumas, novelist! It sounds like a film script!

The young Afropean also talked about the “banlieues”, French for suburbs. Not, however, the leafy suburbia we imagine in the UK, where the wealthy live in large houses in the outer areas, away from the hurly-burly and the industry of city centres. The word “banlieue” is made up of two other words: “bannissement” = banishing, and lieu = place. So a “banlieue” is a place of banishment. When Haussman created a new and beautiful central Paris, with wider, more controllable streets, and grand apartments for the wealthy, the poor and unwanted were pushed out into the periphery.

And there the poor and unwanted, mostly black immigrants, still live in miserable tower blocks, designed originally by Le Corbusier. And the rest is a history of misery and neglect!

We have not really come as far as we would like to have done in terms of improving our society!

I could getvquite depressed about it. It’s a good job Phil and I are off on a little escapism - a week in Sicily, trying not to think about the problems of the world. We do, however, return just in time Mr Trump’s visit and Mrs May’s departure!

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