uploaded : Thursday 6th Sep 2007 at 02:29
by : The Associate Editor
5 September 2007
Reports tonight that Germany has foiled a massive terror plot emphasise that the perpetrators have expressed a ‘profound hatred of Americans.’
Now, this is an interesting piece of phrasing. The have not said they ‘hate America.’ They have not said they ‘hate American foreign policy ‘ or ‘American support for the Zionist entity. ‘ They hate Americans.
This item of news would not have resonated so much with me had I not had a disturbing few weeks trying to live a quiet life in central London, where I have resided for thirty-two years.
Recently I went into a well-known coffee chain in Edgware Road near Marble Arch. As I waited to be served I noticed the café was crowded but that I was the only female customer. Men in various permutations of Middle Eastern garb, including several in full head-to-toe keffiyah and robe, stared at me.
When I sat down and opened my bottle of apple juice I noticed it was fizzing. I called the server over and told her that the juice had fermented. ‘No -- English’ she said, throwing her arms up in despair. Another server came over and asked me what the problem seemed to be. I told her the juice had fermented and that they needed to check their fridge. She looked at the other woman and they shrugged.
I have to confess I have a short fuse about non-English people populating what seems to be 99 % of every job in London and the Home Counties. I am spoilt because in recent years I have been to the USA several times and marvel at the stupendous service provided by young college students and other Americans who possess perfect English and are obliging beyond anyone’s expectations.
So, I became exasperated and said ‘Is there no-one working here who speaks English? This is Paddington - this is still a London neighbourhood.’
A well-dressed man came over and said ‘I speak English.’ I thought he was going to intervene on my behalf but instead came out with this astonishing observation:
‘You are a racist! You are a racist ape! Look at you-- you are an ape!’
I was dumbfounded. I came to London thirty-two years ago to soak up the culture of Dr Johnson and Chaucer and Milton, and in the autumn of my life am called an ape by a man from, well, perhaps Egypt, perhaps Palestine, perhaps Saudi Arabia..
Shocked, I glared at him, but he had to finish things off : ‘You want them to speak Hebrew, don’t you?’
I got up from my seat and went over to him and at the top of my voice said I would be proud to speak Hebrew if I could, it being the language of the Torah and of an ancient culture going back six-thousand years.
He then embarked on a tirade at me about the ‘five million Indians’ slaughtered in genocide in America. Meanwhile, the men in the café were in various states of laughter at me, and exhibiting great admiration for him.
Believe it or not, the server had in the meantime brought me a fresh juice which I calmly drank with my very un-Hebrew ham and cheese sandwich, and then I left. I wandered over to the flower shop and found myself commiserating with what seemed to be two Englishwomen who lived in a permanent state of fear in a neighbourhood they had called their own for generations. They told me I must have been mad going into that shop, as ‘all the establishments in Edgware Road are off-limits to us now.’ They told me there was one small café that was safe for a western woman. ( I had a private giggle about this, considering how appallingly rudely I had been treated by the cockney publican in The Green Man Pub in Edgware Road. I can’t win.)
For those of you who think I invite these mishaps, be assured that wherever I go in Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC, Vermont and other American destinations I seem to attract names like ‘sugar pie’ and ‘doll face’ from servers, bus drivers, train conductors and others in service to the public, so as the saying goes, it can’t be me.
In the context of the aforementioned arrests in Germany of a terror cell of men ( two German-born converts to Islam) who ‘profoundly hate Americans,’ the hatred the man in the café had in his eyes towards me was palpable. This is not some sort of paranoia; some of the other men in the café looked as if they would be glad to do me in or watch him do the deed.
Moving on to this past weekend, I went to a little bakery and café in Abbey Road to ask for a refund for some very, very stale rolls my friend had bought the night before. She had held a splendid dinner party with some very illustrious guests and I had stayed overnight at her beautiful home. I was on a high from the civilised and enlightened conversation of the dinner party the night before, but was brought down to a new low when the bakery proprietor, whom I understand to be Iranian, glowered at me and literally refused to talk to me. I must have stood there for an eternity until I was able to tell him my story of the stale rolls. He walked away and did not answer. It was as if I did not exist, or was too inferior a being to be given the time of day. Finally, in a totally foul manner -- as if I was a piece of human garbage -- he snarled at me that I should have known the night before when I bought my friend the rolls that they would be stale and he said he could not buy the story anyway, as I had returned only one roll. I asked him how much chicken wings were with a view to a swap instead of a refund. He refused to talk to me.
I stood there for awhile wondering what to do and he gave me 50p. My blood boiled. Again, when my buttons are pressed these days in a country where men used to tip their hats and call me ‘madam,’ I turned around and told him that in the USA a regular customer would receive a refund and even a complimentary item to take home.
He shouted, in front of a café full of customers, ‘GET OUT OF MY SHOP ! NOW! GO BACK TO AMERICA!’
Well, that is red rag to a bull; though I fully intend very soon to go back to America I resent a most-likely-illegally-working immigrant to Britain telling me to go back home.
I thundered at him about my dignity and how proud I am of being an American, etc etc but afterwards I felt a right fool. What was I doing justifying myself?
I never used to be filled with anger as I am these days. I see a country that had an exceptionally unique way of doing things disintegrating into a morass of multiculturalism that has no place in the land of Shakespeare, Keats, Milton and Chaucer.
Much debate has been bubbling this past few weeks about the absence of ethnic and immigrant groups attending the BBC Proms concerts. Indeed, every concert I have attended has been standing-room only 100% white middle class.
Having been called an ape and told to go back to the USA by men whose cultures still stone women, I am looking forward to attending the Last Night of the Proms in the Park this coming Saturday, where I, along with the hundreds of thousands in the annual gathering, racist ape that I may be, will be waving my Union Jack and Stars and Stripes to the tune of ‘Land of Hope and Glory.’
And I glory in the thought that there is still hope for Great Britain.