Slap in the Face / To a Louse

Anyone who knows me will know that I am not a night owl.

I am writing this blog at night.

It is after nine.

Son is downstairs watching Better Call Saul.

The dogs are at my feet.

Anne is still not home from a long day at the surgery.

Daughter is upstairs completing homework.

A family idyll.

Yesterday my friend Phil commented on a poem I wrote four years ago.

I will stick it to the bottom of this blog.

It was a night in Dundee.

A guy whacked me in the face. I have the scar today.

My memory of the event had been that we were walking home, it was two or three in the morning, the two guys crossed the street, and one punched me. It felt like a lump of lead hitting me in the face.

In the poem I said the attack was unprovoked.

Phil in his recollection feels the attack was provoked, by his ‘brown skin and long hair, and you with your distinctly semitic looks.’

How odd.

This event was perhaps 30 years ago.

All this time and I had not considered there to have been a racist component to the incident.

I had been existing in a bubble of naivete.

Not naïve to the fact that sometimes people dislike me because of my Jewishness, which I think is subtle, but to the concept that a random stranger might go for me in that context.

Shortly before or after this event, Phil and I travelled to Israel.

This episode was full of comic moments.

We met-up with some of my old school friends. We were probably 20 or 21 at the time.

My friends were either still in the Israeli army or had just been released.

Very different life experiences (Dundee University vs Israeli Defence Forces).

We were struggling to barbecue steaks on a small fire on the banks of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias). I remember the meat being too tough to eat.

My friend J, who was originally from South Africa, had made some off-hand comments, racist slurs; I had sort of tuned out to that (yes, I know I shouldn’t, but this was a long time ago and I was younger.)

I remember Phil taking Jake aside and telling him how he felt about the use of his racist language.

It was a weird moment but in hindsight it made me think.

I reflect now.

I consider my whiteness or perhaps semitic-ness or Jewishness and the way in which that is a step away from Phil’s life experiences.

I always considered Phil, Phil. His greatest distinction being his Southern-ness, not his race or colour. (His mum was from St Helena).

And here again in Dundee with the attack.

I hadn’t considered race or skin-colour a component.

It was more evident to Phil.

During the pandemic I had an encounter with the doctor who was at the time my divisional director.

He was talking about the risks of Covid to people from ethnic minorities. He explicitly excluded me from that.

I didn’t argue the point.

I see myself as of minority status – Scottish Jew in Yorkshire is itself an anomaly.

Covid disproportionately killed Jewish people although it is unclear whether this related to the Orthodox Jews in some parts of the world ignoring regulations to socially distance or a genetic predisposition.

How we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us is at the core of what it is to be human.

As Robert Burns said, ‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us!

I sometimes think I am dumb (as in not very bright).

I miss the obvious.

It takes a slap in the face and 30 years to ring the bell.

Thanks Phil.

Be well.


How I got my scar…

I have a little scar on my right eyebrow.

It used to be,

When I was younger,

That people thought I had done it myself;


Mimicking some sort of gangster-rap style.

No, no.

It was a Thursday night,

walking back

with Phil, Nick and co


was it Fat Sam’s?

Slammed in the face

by a guy

walking towards us.

out of nowhere.


Broke my nose,

Split my eye.

Now I am older,



Not styling my eyebrows,

I guess,

There is an assumption of scar.

Perhaps I should shave the other one

and see

What comments I get?

Published by rodkersh1948

Trying to understand the world, one emotion at a time.

3 thoughts on “Slap in the Face / To a Louse

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