Could be a spiv.
Just how authentic does this guy strive to be? Like, would he call the police if a couple of gay guys or an interracial couple moved in next door?
“I know girls who pine for it. They like to play dress up and pretend being Vor ladies of old, rescued from menace by romantic Vor youths. For some reason they never play dying in childbirth or vomiting your guts up from the red dysentery or weaving until you go blind and crippled from arthritis and dye poisoning or infanticide. Well, they do die romantically of disease sometimes. But somehow it’s always an illness that makes you interestingly pale and everyone sorry, and doesn’t involve losing bowel control.”
— Ekaterin Vorvoisson in “Komarr”, Lois McBaster Bujold
Actually “racism” in the UK is largely post-1940s. There was a lot of trouble with the US troops stationed in the South before D-Day because black soldiers discovered there was no “colour bar”, and I’ve been told virtually all the US army in the UK had to be confined to barracks. Despite which a number of black soldiers ended up marrying white English women.
Racism really got started once Caribbean immigration started up again (it had been quite extensive into Bristol during the slaver era, and there was a lot of intermarrying) and the far Right tried to stir up trouble - just as they did so successfully in 2015-16.
My father assures me that during the 1940s and 1950s it was all “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Alan Turing got into trouble because, being a bit naive, after his boyfriend stole a load of stuff he called the police. Even that might not have really been a problem if the US wasn’t screaming at the UK about faggots and security risks, and the UK was desperate to keep in with the US on bombs and missiles.
And we didn’t have “interracial couples”. We had Anglo-Indians, we had a few black and white couples. The numbers were small, but the police wouldn’t have been interested.
In the upper reaches of society, anti-Semitism was often correlated with pro-Arabism. It was considered very OK to hang out with the Bedouin, Egyptians, Iraqis, Iranians and so on. Their upper classes really did send their children to school and university in England. Of course anti-Semitism did not apply to the right kind of Jews* like the Rothschilds.
There was a lot wrong with the culture I grew up in; its attitudes to women, outside progressive circles, was often dire; there was a lot of domestic violence, attitudes to foreigners were often xenophobic and the class system was, until the 1960s, pretty rigid. But it’s a mistake to assume that the UK shared US obsessions around “race” and gender, until we were more or less forced to.
*to avoid frequent misunderstandings, this is irony.
Thanks for the information. I think I was being very USA-centric there, in assuming that all countries had the same racial issues that we did, and in retrospect that was pretty dumb of me.
Different, but related.
See here for a modern take:
I thought I was clear that I was referring to the pre-Windrush era.
Nowadays toxicity crosses the Atlantic in both directions. Also, we had Enoch Powell, perhaps the most malign British politician since Guido Fawkes.
However, to say you’ve cherry picked is an understatement. The Thatcher era (1980s) saw the government attacking everybody who wasn’t a right wing Conservative - miners, steel workers, single parents, the homeless as well as Afro-Caribbeans. Fortunately in my case the Falklands war had enough spin off in military R&D that I mostly stayed employed and emerged from Thatcherism a lot better off than I entered it. But some of the biggest Thatcherite attacks on minorities - the Miner’s strike, the Poll Tax riots, and the Battle of the Beanfield - were as bad or worse than anything that happened in Bristol or Notting Hill.
Not really. Just as the British class system is so deeply embedded many people don’t notice it is there, or that other countries have it different, the US black/white schism is also deeply embedded. It’s often hard to separate oneself from so much cultural programming.
Example: Once in South Africa I was asked how the unrest in Northern Ireland was affecting me. I explained that it didn’t, there were three hundred miles and a sea between me and it. The person I was talking to saw the whole thing in terms of Catholics=blacks and unrest in townships. Yet he was an educated person who had travelled outside South Africa.
What about antibiotics? Penicillin was not widely available until after the 1940s.
Actually penicillin was in mass production by mid-1944 and in large volume production by mid-1945.
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