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

Last Night Of The Proms 2010 – Hyde Park

I know The Last Night of the Proms is more than just a big patriotic sing-a-long, but for this American it was a dream night that I had imagined being a part of since first becoming aware of it several years ago. If you’ve ever had an opportunity to be in a mass of 30,000 flag-waving people singing in unison, you will know exactly what I mean.

Even though I tried to watch with an eye for detail so I might retell my experience, I found myself singing loudly along with the rest of the people gathered in Hyde Park and focused more on what I was feeling and less on observing others. Knowing that this night was part of the plan for my birthday week in London, I had brought back two American flags from my last US visit to wave in what I knew would be a sea mostly Union Jack and English colors. Flags from other countries were represented in spots and I even saw Confederate flag with what looked like Elvis’s face superimposed over its center.

Rarely does an experience deliver the excitement one imagines it will, but being in Hyde Park on September 11, 2010 did that and more. In addition to fun, I had a chance to see up close how some Brits celebrate their love of music with an opportunity to dress up in some wildly patriotic outfits along with a few folks in more traditional formal attire. The Last Night of the Proms ends a two month series of concerts at The Royal Albert Hall and include Proms in the Park on the last evening. It is on this final night that gestures get grander and people show a side that makes you wistfully happy to be part the singing crowd regardless of your nationality.

Some people dress up but don’t seem to want their picture taken. Oops!

The flag tribute in the photo above to the NYC Firefighters was a touching memorial to those who died on September 11, 2001

I like NY shirt on the man in the photo above.

I snapped a couple of photographs with this group and after giving them a quick look at my images, I showed the man who is giving me a thumb’s up how to adjust his Canon G11 so he might pick up an accent color like I was doing for my images that night. I love this cool feature on the G11. It turns out that I gave a little tutorial to a man who spends a fair amount of time in front of the camera instead of behind it. You can see more of Mike Brewer here.

Even though ” No Glass” signs were posted and bags were checked, we saw quite a few folks breaking the rules.

Dancing was happening everywhere with all ages and throughout the evening.

This was an American artist from New York, but I’m afraid I cannot remember her name. Feel free to help me out and I will go back and add it. (Big thanks to Pete who left Nell Bryden’s name in a comment … see more about Nell here)

Check out the Confederate flag with Elvis. Someone told me in our hotel that rooms were full because of the Proms, the Pope’s visit, and Elvis.  It seems they were expecting them ( The Pope & Elvis, though not together)  later in Hyde Park.

Vibram Five Fingers

I wore my ” Monkey Feet ” to the Proms.

Margaret taking in the scenery as things were getting started.

Click on this one to see the field of flags.

John’s eldest daughter took this with her new iPhone. He still looks pretty tan from his channel sailing a few weeks ago.

The fireworks gave a nice finish to things after a less than rousing version of, ” God Save The Queen.”  Do have a look and listen to at least two of our group sings so you can get a feel for how it felt to be there.  Rule Britannia and Land of Hope & Glory ” are just two from the evening, but they will give you a chance to see what I’m raving about.