Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Warning: This posting may be regarded by some as containing politically incorrect words.
I was thinking recently about the people and things that have made a lasting impression on me and which I, in turn, have tried to pass on to others in my life where possible. I shall post on a few over the next wee while.
If, as a child (and when I was an adult come to think of it), I ever said that I hated something my Dad always responded by saying "You should never hate anything in this world". I don't think he ever did. I'm not sure that I have ever hated either. I abhor things like intolerance and discrimination but I don't hate them. I have certainly never hated a person. Hate is too destructive an emotion.
When I was a child growing up in Liverpool there was a joke which went "What's green on one side, orange on the other and has a white line down the middle?" The answer was "Netherfield Road North". That road was notorious for being the boundary between the Roman Catholic and Protestant communities in Liverpool. The area was poor and largely comprised of slum dwellings.
I digress. When I was 21 I was the deputy in the Housing Committee Section in the Town Clerk's Department (the legal and administration department of the Liverpool Corporation - City Council). That Section also dealt with slum clearance and compulsory purchase. Anthony Wedgewood Ben was the Minister of Technology at the time. He was visiting Liverpool. Even in those days (1965) politicians had press officers spinning for them. We were told that he had to be referred to as WedgeBen of MinTek to make him look modern and with it. He arrived and decreed that the word 'slum' was no longer to be used. Houses were henceforth to be referred to as 'unfit for human habitation'. Never use four words where one will do - unless you are trying to make your own title look modern.
Back to the story. Netherfield Road North was a hotbed for the violence of man on man caused by religious hatred. I recall, for example, the discrimination where the Lybro Overall Factory had a notice in huge letters outside the main entrance "No Roman Catholics (or was it Protestants?) employed". I was a Protestant but I had been sent to a Prep School owned and run by an Irish Roman Catholic family. So why did religions hate each other? Even as a very young child I wondered that and found it incomprehensible.
Liverpool Corporation in one of the most courageous and far-seeing practical acts of anti-discrimination almost eliminated the physical divisions of religion in Liverpool when it cleared the slums to the new high-rise blocks in Kirby. They mixed the orange and the green. People became next door neighbours with people whom they would not previously have tolerated on their side of Netherfield Road North.
But nothing has changed in the world. Liverpool may no longer have a significant problem with religious hatred. But the rest of the world.......
One amusing thing that always sticks in my mind was my partner's daughter who whenever she said that she hated something and I responded as my Dad had done, used to stamp her foot in mock annoyance and say "OK, Graham, I don't like it a very lot then!". And she wasn't yet a teenager.
It's a funny old world, Dad.