Saturday, 14 March 2009
Prejudice Comes in Many Forms
first and a Harley or BMW or Honda or Kawasaki rider second. My point being that I like to ride and I like what riding gives me. It sort of feeds my soul. Over the years, especially in the police, I faced all sorts of prejudices; racial, sexual, religious, professional, even the fact that I was merely a police officer was occasionally turned against me. I encountered people who didn't just hate me because I was white and a police officer, they seemed to hate everyone and everything, even their own family. The worst racial hatred I ever experienced that was directed at me, personally, was from a man who was Jamaican and he seemed to fit the latter `hate everyone` category. That said, he didn't turn me against other Jamaicans although he did make me wary. Fortunately, friends I have who are from Barbados made me chuckle when they said it was OK and not to worry, as nobody else in the Caribbean liked Jamaicans anyway - prejudice again! I tried to rise above it and to be judged by my deeds and who I was, that is if I chose to hang around long enough for people to find out a bit more about me. Eventually, I got to the point where I just didn't want to waste any of my time and energy in trying to win a battle of words or sit through an argument that I judged was a waste of my lifeforce. Rather than get angry I'd just walk away if the situation allowed me to. In so doing I simply categorised people as either radiators or drains. Radiators give out warmth and drains...well you know what I mean. Now I quite like scooters in a way I cannot quite understand. I've never owned one, but I've ridden a couple, which is exactly the reason I would never own one. They just do not suit me or my style of riding and I simply don't want to ride one out of choice. They are practical and cheap to run and they have good weather protection so their owners can get away with wearing nice shoes in a bit of rain. Some of the bigger ones are even quick, very quick indeed, but they still don't float the boat for me. That said, if I'm out on a ride and stop for a stretch and there's some scooterists about, I'll stroll over and have a chat. Sometimes I get the wary look from some of my age, doubtless remembering the battle of mods and rockers of the bad old good old days, but when I show an interest in their machinery we always strike up a common thread - the joy of the open road on two wheels and occasionally The Who, Prince Buster and Harry J & The Allstars. Now if they all started hurling abuse at me, my bulky boots, biker clothing and my machinery I'd walk away, with as much dignity as I could muster. This has never actually happened to me, but if it did, then that would be my plan. If I'm `pushed into a corner` I will politely stand my ground but again, I would rather walk away from a drain and find a nice radiator to sit by as I drink my mug of tea. I would remember the faces of the antagonists if I could, and watch out for them next time so as to avoid them. In the police, I'd sooner talk a belligerent out of a pub than throw him out physically. During my time as a police officer I was both priviledged and lucky to have been able to resuscitate 3 people. One was an overdosed drug addict, one was a woman who had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage (I worked her heart and my buddy breathed into her until we got a pulse before paramedics arrived and hooked her up to the `Minuteman`, working around us in her cramped bedroom - we never even noticed them arrive and do it) and the last one was on a traffic warden who had attempted suicide in a public toilet, by slashing his wrists and then trying to literally cut his heart out. That was horrendous and he eventually conked out on me and died before the ambulance arrived - I got him breathing again but he was just leaking in too many places. What would be of total irrelevance would be for me to say that the first was white, the second was a Turkish muslim and the third was Afro- Caribbean. As I wrote this I had to dig deep before I remembered that fact. It was buried in the section of my memory, filed under "Irrelevant". Yet to my amazement, when I saw those muslims at Luton, protesting at our returning troops marching through the town, I felt such a wave of revulsion that for a few moments I hated every last one of them, their culture, their parents and their offspring. I would have been accutely embarrassed if my old friends (of Indian origin but as British as I am) had been in the room with me. I was wild, angry and wanting to choke the living shit out of these odious creatures who were spitting abuse at British soldiers who had returned from a tour of duty - a duty that was being performed at the behest of our elected politicians in Government - a tour of duty where they had lost comrades. I do believe I lost my temper! Had I been there I would have had to dig deep into my box of self control or I could well have lost it and ended up getting arrested. I hate violence yet I have used it, and threatened the use of it in a controlled manner over the years in order to effect the purpose of my office. I used my truncheon/baton maybe 3 times although I drew it on many more occasions than that. I have punched people bloody hard and then stood in court later and said so. I have pointed a gun at many people in order to effect an arrest. I almost shot someone, once. I came so very close. He turned out to be unarmed, yet I had every justification to shoot, right up to the point where I discovered he was not armed, but he was so lucky. That still comes back and haunts me from time to time. I could legally justify every occasion where I used or threatened the use of force, but I guess when I `lost it` in front of my television last week, I wouldn't have been able to justify the force that I wanted to use on those people. I suppose I should feel slightly ashamed. This is how the National Front exploited that void, the one between a race war or living together in harmony or indifference - frankly, Id settle for indifference if it meant a peaceful co-existence - harmony could always be the occasional bonus. I fear we're on an edge here and the masses of the less rational `great unwashed` out there, don't tend to think things through like I've tried to. Well, as Ogri would say, "Bollocks, I've always got me bike". I 'm off and I just hope I don't get some pizza delivery kid's smelly, gutless 50cc scooter stuck in my air intake - bloody pests.