24 August 2016

Love Thy Neighbour

A lot has been reported lately about cases of xenophobia and racist attacks that have been occurring in various parts of the country since the referendum result to leave the EU. I cannot condone that in any shape of form, especially as my father was himself a victim of racism in 1930s Nazi Germany and had to flee for his life to Britain in 1939. He married an English Land Girl and later was naturalised months before I was born, so strictly speaking, although I was born and bred here and consider myself to be nothing other than white Caucasian British, you could also say I am a second-generation immigrant.

I have mentioned before that I live in a small private cul-de-sac of 32 town houses in a suburb of London.  All the houses are the same and are grouped round a large communal field which is shared by all the residents for relaxation, large marquee parties, children to play etc. We have a residents' association which manages all communal aspects like gardening of the field, external painting of the houses at set intervals, repaving and lighting of the street to name a few things. I would say I know more than half of my neighbours personally. I don't know how many of you can say you know 16 sets of neighbours well and particularly in a big city like London. About half are British, the rest are a right old mix of nationalities. Off the top of my head I can count families from Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Croatia, Norway, India, Austria, Australia to name those I personally know. We all co-exist without any problems and invite one another's children to knock on our doors at Halloween or invite the grown ups too to attend birthday parties or other functions held on the communal area. In recent years we communally celebrated in the new Millennium and VE day. One of my neighbours once held her wedding reception in a marquee on the lawn and we were all invited. There are frequent kiddies' parties with bouncy castles or entertainers. Last week one of our neighbours, who has a had a lot of modernisation done on her house over the last 4 months), invited us all to a house-warming party as a thanks for our understanding about the noise, endless  skips and upheaval caused during that time. Again nationalities of all kinds mixed in to enjoy a lovely summer day together.

It therefore pains me to see that such hatred for foreigners has sprung supposedly from the  Brexit vote. You cannot blame Brexit for the hatred.There is always going to be vile people somewhere who use any opportunity to vent their spleen when they feel the moment is ripe. Just like Hitler did.

09 August 2016

Living the dream

Twenty-two years ago, as a three-year-old, my daughter Kay used to dress up in a nurse's uniform. She'd order her grandfather to lie down on the sofa and pretend he had been in a monumental traffic accident. He had a broken leg and, worse than that, shards of glass sticking out of it too. She would grab her doctor's bag marked with a red cross, get out her plastic stethoscope, tweezers and syringe and get to work on him. He would be bandaged from head to foot and then sent home. She would then call for her next patient - her long-suffering grandfather once more - to re-enact another scenario. She never tired of it and surprisingly nor did her poor obliging grandfather.

Twenty-two years on, Kay is now into her second year as a junior doctor. She has just started her first 4-month placement in a large London teaching hospital......... in A&E.  Twenty-two years later she's doing it for real. Living the dream.