You Ain’t English! – The Ride Turns Ugly On A London Tram

I’ve been writing fast and furious over the last few days trying to meet my goal for NaNoWriMo, but I had to stop for a minute to send out a thought on some nasty business that happened on a London tram the other day.

The language is really rough so be aware before you click on the highlighted link above.

I’m not sure how they found her, but Emma West was arrested for her racist rant yesterday and I’m sure many will be watching to see the outcome of her court appearance. At least 2 million people have seen the video, and I have to thank one of the bloggers I read for alerting me to the news story.

I just watched the video a few minutes ago and was shocked by the foul-mouthed rant of the woman who was holding her child in her lap. One woman spoke up to her and then another woman joined in, but only because the shouting had bothered her baby who can be heard crying in the background.

While working on my novel this month, I’ve been seeing the world and it’s events differently, more like scenes in a movie as the chapters in my book develop. After watching the video, I couldn’t help but visualize a different ending than the one the people on the tram had to tolerate many of whom are not British by birth and probably feel a bit displaced already without being confronted by such a venomous outburst.

In the movie scene in my head, I wonder …

What might have happened if when the woman began shouting, ‘ You ain’t English, and you ain’t English either ‘ as she was did to those around her … what if one person on the tram had launched into a loud song, one uniquely identified as a song all Brits and many expats would know, a song that’s sung at public events by the masses and is usually one found in the group below.

What if one voice became two, and then three, and then four, until one by one the voices of everyone on the tram were joined in song so that in the end both immigrant and British born citizens were singing so loudly that her voice could no longer be heard.

That might have shamed her into silence and made the people she was insulting feel better for a moment, but I’m not sure it would have had the impact needed to bring some greater sense of community in the mix of cultures that call Britain home.

Maybe this is a wake up call for a dialogue of some kind. I know there are strong feelings out there, I hear the rumblings too sometimes, but there has to be a better way than the one Emma West is teaching her child.

Isn’t it time we work on finding it and if not now, then when?

Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.

 ~ William Congreve

We Won!

Wednesday night you will generally find us down at the pub having a bite of dinner and enjoying a little friendly competition with the folks who turn up for Quiz Night. I have written about this before on my old blog here and mentioned it in a few other places as well.

John and I tend to be somewhere in the middle of the teams and don’t often move too far up or down in the rankings from week to week. There are some brainy groups who always seem to win or at least finish in the top three, but it’s rarely been us. Well, once we did finish first, but we were part of a team of six instead of our usual two so while it was fun, it didn’t feel as sweet as it did last night.

I have to say here that I always feel a bit of pressure when there is what people in the pub would refer to as an ” American” question. Last night, we played with Jean and Robert who were also at the pasty making competition. They always do well and frequently win or come in second so we had a much better chance right from the beginning than we normally do.

It was a killer quiz and seemed much more difficult than usual and I struggled as I often do to come up with the answers to questions I think of as ” British” questions. One example of this might be a rugby question about a famous player from 1970. Now there is no way I am going to get a question like that one right, but the pressure is always on when it’s about something related to American trivia.

Last night’s combination of Jean, Robert, and John left little for me to do much of the time as they were usually whispering the answers to each other while I was still digesting the question. In fact, there were only two questions I answered that my teammates needed help on and while I knew a few others, they were the type most of us would know.

I am often teased here in a good-naturedly way about my competitiveness which I prefer to laughingly call enthusiasm. One example of my “Enthusiastic nature ” might be the difference in how I react when the answers are read at the end of the quiz. In a room full of people who at most give off a soft murmuring sound when they’ve found they have answered a tough question correctly, my loud ” YES! ” coming out of the corner tends to draw a bit of attention.

Last night, there were two questions like this for us, questions that I answered that no one on our team could answer. I can’t remember them both, but the one that stands out was, ” What was Nancy Reagan’s maiden name ?”  It seems easy until everyone looks at you for the answer since it’s an American question and for a few minutes I was blank only remembering it when I thought of her daughter Patti Davis who used her mother’s maiden name after disagreeing with her father’s politics.

After we placed first, I was excited, but felt like it was more their victory than mine as I had only known two answers that they couldn’t get on their own. This morning though I can see it a bit differently. While writing the details of last nights win, I just realized that the points difference last night between first and second place was … two questions.

This is the regular team of folks that Jean and Robert usually play with on quiz night. Robert and Jean are in the darker purple shirts at one end of the table with Helen and Jeff at the other. Karen is sitting in between Jean and Jeff and has moved back to Canada recently freeing up a spot on their team. Jeff and Helen couldn’t be there last night so we joined Jean and Robert to create the Anglo-American Alliance.