Sunday, 6 February 2011

Cullingworth & a thought on multiculturalism


Friday night, Cullingworth Conservative Club and it's quite busy. There are a few blokes who've chosen to watch the rugby here rather than at home as well as the usual Friday night collection. Some people are playing dominoes in the corner, others are playing snooker and the rest are sitting or standing to talk and drink.

All very typical of that English culture which presents such a barrier to those from different cultures we might say. But let me invite you to take a little closer look - and to discover why the separate development theory of multiculturalism was wrong.

Stood, pint in hand, with the rugby watchers is Manu - newsagent, Parish Councillor, avid Bradford City fan. Across the lounge sits another middle-aged Asian lady with her friend - her white, bottle-blonde friend. Occasional side conversations are held between her and others passing by - some older, some younger. Friendly exchanges about shared experiences in village, mutual acquaintances and other such matters of moment.

Among the domino players is Pete - Chinese takeaway owner and former ping-pong player. Pete's also on the club committee and, while his accent's a bit impenetrable after a few lager & blackcurrants, he's as much part of the Club and the village as anyone else.

I'm pretty sure that, if I put my head round the corner past the one-armed bandit, there'll be a selection of the Brown clan - mostly third or fourth generation in the village and varying in colour from dark brown to a good sun tan. And sitting with them will be friends and neighbours, girlfriends and boyfriends - also native to the village but with a paler hue.

And there will be others less noticeable among the crowd. People whose parents arrived after the war from Eastern Europe, for example. Beyond the Club, there's a Muslim lady who's our GP, there's 'Smiler' who owns the general store and many others who - like me - aren't from the village. Yet we seem to get along alright. There aren't all that many fights - and these won't usually result from racism.

Such nonsense is spoken of 'multiculturalism'. As if it is either a simple description of reality - in this case the recognition that Cullingworth is 'multicultural' - or else a statement intended to (apologies for the jargon) 'problematise' this circumstance. In truth - because we're pretty decent folk most of the time - we simply get on with life and with living alongside people of different cultural heritage. And those people do become our friends, they do get involved in the life of the community - not in some desperate attempt to integrate but because they want to and because we welcome them doing so.

Is all that so hard?


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