Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Happy Neighbours

Watching the UKIP debate is beyond unsettling to me.

If you're feeling similar, here's a story for you.

I was lucky enough to have a back garden when I was a kid.

There was another kid in the back garden next to me, her family was Sri Lankan.

We got on.

Only neither of us could see over the fence.

We discovered that if she climbed up on the stone work on her side of the fence and if I climbed up the metal frame of our swing we could see each others faces.

So we would talk in this precarious manner and occasionally get to the point where we felt we should enter one or others house.

My memories included playing Pontoon and her mainly winning, often while listening to American country music.

As far as I'm aware Dolly Parton has no real link to either Sri Lankan or British culture, we both liked it.

We also both talked about Monica Seles while playing tennis when Wimbledon was on, she's not British either.

We didn't see that much of each other later in life, because she went to a private school and I went to a state one.

This seemed to involve people doing things like advancing her classes, not something that was done in my school.

We lost touch a bit and I went on to study elements of international politics, including the conflict in Sri Lanka knowing her and a Sri Lankan guy that I had met at school made me more interested, ignorant as fuck most likely, but interested.

I found myself very ill after leaving uni and I clearly remember on one of these occasions her coming over to visit me, with Christmas cake, only not the kind that my Gran and mum made, way more squishy and amazing (sorry Mum, my Mum does make lovely cakes).

Seeing a familiar face at such a difficult time meant a lot to me.

She's really successful now and so I get to see her even less, but she enriched my life, she did not detract from it Mr Farage.

Unwittingly she made me more engaged in a debate about conflict resolution, she may never have put pounds into my pocket but my exchanges with her were happy ones, they made my life better.

Being confronted with another culture does not destroy it, just means that we have something to share.

She was my neighbour, France and Europe are ours.

Could we bother to climb up on the swing rather than throwing rocks at the bloody fence.

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