If you’ve met me , you’ll know a 6ft 3″ middle aged white bloke with a plummy voice that has been nicknamed “Lord Henry” by my chavmates!
I am the product of the public schools and Cambridge. My privileged background is there for all to see.
But from a young age – I think from about 10 – I was worried that there was another world that I did not belong too and I was determined to find out what it was.
I found it in the holidays when I tried to befriend children in my local town. They had been my schoolmates a few years before but I soon found out that I was not going to be in their gang – I didn’t do scouts, play in their teams, go round to their houses after school, I didn’t spend my days in class with them.
After graduating I went to Iceland and tried to become a fisherman, I could do it for a bit but as with my other attempts to find the other world, I felt an outsider, a tourist.
These were the people I worked with and sold insurance to. I wasn’t doing this as a cod anthropologist, I was attracted to the ways these people had adapted to living in someone else’s land and made it their own. I read and re-read James Joyce’s Ulysses , fascinated by Bloom, the Irish Jew.
I think of all these experiences as the things which grew me up.
London has never been so diverse – the diversity giddies me. I read tweets of people who’ve been chatting to Gabonese, Senegalese, Chinese and Kiwi in a single carriage of a tube. We seem to have grown up as a nation into understanding what my friends at Quietroom call our “core story”. I think this “story” is about how we have been shaped by the experience of spending time with “others”.
The opening ceremony showed us where we came from, a brilliant pageant laid out our history and what we have become. Then in came the athletes from all over the world and, tedious as the parade of athletes became, the point was not lost on me.
This giddy diversity makes me tick, makes us tick. We draw strength from others, learn from other’s views, other’s experiences. If we did not embrace the other we would be a lesser nation. Other nations have rejected all models but their own but not Britain.
Oddly, it was when I started feeling proud of the adult that I had become, that I stopped wanting the other. But the other comes to me, the Pension Play Pen is a multi-cultural ,multi-faith, fiesta of diversity. I live in West London, one of the most vibrant cauldrons of diversity the world can ever have seen (try Slough on a Saturday night!).
Now, as the world has come to us, I am revelling in this giddy world of the London Olympiad. I want to capture this feeling. I want to write about it and then put it in my pocket for years to come! I want you to feel in reading this, something of the giddiness that made me write it at 6.30am on an Olympic morning in Weymouth,
- Thank you for support of Strawberry Fair (insidehalton.com)
- The Idiocy of Official Diversity (txwclp.org)
- Boob job winner “giddy with happiness” (mya.co.uk)
- As minorities flee, the Middle East loses its once rich religious diversity (pri.org)
- Bloomsday! Molly Bloom is how I know I won’t hate Ulysses. (jillianreadsbooks2.wordpress.com)
- Happy Bloomsday! (writedrunkandeditsober.wordpress.com)
- The giddy feeling of excitement – Paris 01 Louvre, France (travelpod.com)