I know I should have known
There were people out there
Who see the world
It is self-evident
What it is
To be human,
To have a pair of eyes and ears
And the ability to process.
My daughter and I visited some houses in South Central Doncaster.
Nothing like the LA equivalent,
It is stone-built houses
A quiet estate,
From the 90’s.
Mostly , two or more cars on the drive,
And well-kept lawns.
We were supporting the local Labour Counsellors,
Who might vote Right or Left or not at all.
‘If there was an election tomorrow, how would you vote?’
The responses were mixed.
I prefer not to say.
It won’t be your lot!
I am Tory, the wife and kids, Labour.
A microcosm of English society.
For some of the time we followed
Former Labour leader
And current Shadow Secretary for Climate Change and Net Zero.
Most constituents were welcoming,
pleased to see tall-Ed,
Shaking hands and smiling,
In the gloaming.
Some less keen.
One family expressed the entire
Everything from ‘the immigrants’
To NHS managers
And the ‘you are all the same’
Ed handled it with the skill
Expected of an experienced politician,
And trying to understand despite
It was this family, the man,
Early afternoon, pyjama bottoms
And his wife,
At his side
Who I found most interesting.
I surround myself with like-minded people.
At work, where those minds potentially diverge (viz. here),
We focus on patients and care,
I block them.
On social media
I follow those who think alike
Who see the world similarly.
Tweet after tweet
Is either the wonders of nature, NHS and healthcare, or Tory Memes.
I exist in a bubble,
A cocoon that I have cultivated.
Is this nurtured version of reality healthy?
Part of my motivation for existing within this buffer
Is my lack of resilience.
Exposed to the brutality of Trump or Johnson or Farage,
I couldn’t cope,
I would fail.
I need this defensive perimeter
To protect my ego.
It affects my world view.
I see one side of the coin
And the other
Is stuck to the floor. (Remember the Candid Camera joke?)
Part of the reason for the success of Brexit
Was the Left’s reluctance
Refusal or inability
To countenance the arguments of those on the Right.
As a medical analogy,
It is like fighting a disease
at the same time
Pretending it does not exist.
It will sooner or later get you.
And they got us.
52 to 48.
We must embrace not only diversity
But those with differing views
We must try to understand
The antecedents of their behaviour,
Without which we
Will be stuck.
In Swedish quality improvement parlance,
We must invite those we might not like, to the table,
Sit down and break bread.
Two-step with the dancers we would prefer to leave as wallflowers.
In Plato’s allegory of the cave,
The people spend their lives dancing before the fire,
Their perception of the shadows as being reality is a misconception
They are a fragment of what is what.
Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon,
Slaps the student’s head,
It is like a finger pointing to the moon; don’t <slap> focus on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory.
We are fixated on the finger
As the firmament is too big,
Too frightening to comprehend.
My next steps?
I need to embrace those who are different to me,
Someone filled with the zeal of an anti-vaxing
Afraid that’s not me,
Someone with bigger cojones is required for the job.
I have lost the thread of this blog as at the moment of typing ‘job’ a ‘partner’ at the café asked me to leave.
I’ll explain more below.
As the I Ching says
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step
I shouldn’t seek to snuggle-up to the trolls/right-wingers and creeps inhabiting the Twittersphere,
Incremental change is better than massive failures,
I will have a go.
Watch this space,
If my mind is stolen,
and I acquire a Union Jack tattoo, you will know the experiment was a failure.
So, what happened to me?
It’s Friday morning.
I took my daughter to school in Sheffield and thought I would pop in to Waitrose for a coffee in the café and write my blog.
Everything started well.
I arrived just after 8 and the staff were still setting-up so I found a seat and started writing.
I got into the flow.
Yes, this happens to me frequently as I type; time and space stop and I become absorbed. It is active mindfulness, it is supposedly good for my mental health.
Well, the time passed. It was a little cold. I put-up my hood and continued writing.
I was joined by one man, otherwise the place was empty.
By 830 a ‘partner’ approached me, ‘Are you meeting someone or going to have a drink?’
‘Sorry, what do you mean?’ I asked.
‘This isn’t a communal space, you need to buy a drink or leave.’
As blunt as that.
I informed him I was going to buy a drink (I didn’t go into explanations of flow-state) and decided to leave.
I saw security standing just behind him.
The place was empty.
I was riled.
I thought of the potential confrontation with someone less able to stand-up for themselves (I tried), or maybe someone with depression or an old man or woman sheltering from the cold; I felt confronted by an unexpected toxic masculinity. Was it my hood? My laptop? Backpack? Were it America and a similar situation, I could have ended-up dead.
Yes, I was kicked out.
I went back in and spoke to the manager and explained how annoyed I was.
They offered me a free coffee.
I decline and left.
I get it; they don’t want riffraff spoiling their café. And yet, it is cold out there, we have a fuel and cost of living crisis, and they sell overpriced crap. It just doesn’t tally.
Would Aldi kick me out?
Do Aldi have cafes?