1 EAGLETON NOTES: On Giving Your Country a Bad Name

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Thursday, 22 May 2014

On Giving Your Country a Bad Name

I don't know about anyone else but I judge people on who they are and I have no interest in where they come from insofar as judging them is concerned.  I was born and brought up in a city in England  where there seemed to be hardly any English people.  This was in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  Almost everyone in Liverpool seemed to have come from somewhere else.  People were Liverpool Welsh; Liverpool Irish; Liverpool Scots; Liverpool West Indian; Liverpool West African; Liverpool Chinese  and so on.  I do not recall there being any Liverpool people from the Indian sub-continent when I was small because they seemed to live in the more central Lancashire towns.  It is rumoured that there were Liverpool English but I am not sure that I ever met any.

As for nationality I have always adhered to the fact that being born in a kennel does not make you a dog.

Which brings me a tiny bit nearer to the point of this post.....just a tiny bit nearer.

This afternoon I received a phone call from an 'Unavailable' number.  I did as I usually do and put the phone back in its cradle without saying anything as soon as I heard the familiar patter.  The phone rang again.  I did the same.  It rang a third time this time showing 'International' and then 0017324521133 and a very indignant voice wanted to know why I had hung up on him.  He was, after all, a technician from Windows who needed to help me.  I broke with my traditional silence and said words to the effect that I wasn't prepared to listen to a rogue, thief, charlatan, scammer and so on and did he really think I would stand having my intelligence insulted in such a way.  I quite surprised myself.  He hasn't rung back.  He probably thinks I was very rude and inconsiderate.

The voice was one typical to my ear of someone from the Indian sub-continent.  It did fleetingly make me think that people like him give people from his country a bad name.  Then I though about that loathsome (I accept that is a personal judgement based on hearsay because I've never met him) ex-city trader and professional politician Nigel Forage's comment about Rumanians.  I only know two and nicer, better educated, honest and more beautiful people you could not wish to meet.  They give people from their country a good name.  Then I thought about all the rogues and scoundrels from petty thieves to billionaire fraudsters from the UK (some of whom we have even managed to incarcerate away from society for a while).  And then I stopped thinking.  

After all, despite having lived the greater part of my life in Scotland and with no residential affinity now with England, I might shortly be classified as an alien and have to apply for residency or citizenship in what I consider to be my own country or, if Scotland joins the EU, be treated as a visiting resident from another EU country (just like an Italian or Rumanian or Pole or....the list is endless).  Just as all the persons born in Scotland and now permanently resident in other parts of the UK might be in a similar situation.

26 comments:

  1. Have you ever met a politician in the last ten years? They are all loathsome. Many are thieves. They used to incarcerated them in Westminster, we have had to create extra space in Holyrood, Strasbourg, Brussels and somewhere in Wales. There are so many loathsomes today. The facility in Westminster isn't very secure they are allowed out for over two hundred days this year....it's frightening.
    I liked ET. I want to be an alien.

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    1. I worked with politicians all my professional life and I have the sort of view of them that you would expect in the circumstances. They are not all loathsome though. I would suggest that such generalisations devalue the currency of the word. Many are self-interested and morally bankrupt from the outset. Many set out to achieve great ideals. Few are not corrupted by the system in the end. In many ways it is simply a reflection of human nature and human endeavour as it has ever been.

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  2. Strangely enough I also has had a call from the Windows support department this afternoon (as well as a call about a kitchen recycling scheme and one about boiler replacement grants even though I'm on the TPS don't call list). This time I just hung up but I have played along on a couple of occasions, which is always interesting given I'm not sat in front of a Windows machine, so they get very confused when their script doesn't match up with what I can see. Interestingly I did read an article once (which I now can't find) which suggests that quite a large majority of the people manning these phones lines really do thing they are working for Windows (yes Windows not Microsoft) and they get indignant because they truly believe they are trying to help you. Mind you that is depressing as it just shows how naive some people can be if they don't realise they are helping to run a scam.

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    1. Now that, Mark, is an angle that really never occurred to me. However when I did once many moons ago decide on some sport with such a scammer on the grounds that whilst he was talking to me he wasn't taking someone else in, he argued black was white for ages despite me telling him that my computer was Apple and was switched off.

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  3. "As for nationality I have always adhered to the fact that being born in a kennel does not make you a dog." Graham, that is absolutely priceless! If I may, I'd like to quote you on that!! Giving you full credit of course. xoxo DeeDee

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    1. DeeDee you are most welcome to use it. It's been dogma (sorry) of mine for some years.

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  4. We get hung up thinking about people as nationals...French, German...We're all white guys of some kind. I would go further and say ignore color and look at each person as a person and try to ignore labels that have been applied to people.

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    1. I agree Red that we should ignore labels and consider people as individuals.

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  5. The last time I received one of those calls I actually felt sorry for the caller after I'd hung up, wondering how I'd feel if the comments I'd made had been directed towards me. I suspect the day will come when I will have that residency or citizenship problem here in NZ.

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    1. Pauline I've never quite got to that stage with someone trying to perpetrate a fraud or scam on me although cold calling sales people are just doing a job. I don't get any of those because we have a service in the UK which enables us to opt out from such calls and, for me, it has worked pretty well. Most scamming calls are made from abroad so are not covered by the UK's laws. I could block calls where the number is withheld or international but many of my incoming calls from friends are international and some have withheld private numbers too.

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  6. Germany has had an increase of 38 % of immigrants from 2011 to 2012 (no newer statistics available). In 2013, for the first time more than 400.000 people came to stay. In 2009, Germany was still # 8 in the ranking of countries with the most immigrants, now it is 2nd place after the US.
    Many Germans are worried about this, and it is easy to generalize about "all those criminals from Eastern Europe" when there are so many stories in the media about Romanian burglar gangs, Bulgarian scammers who trick people out of gold necklaces in exchange for worthless ones, and so on. Personally, I don't know any Bulgarians, but the few Romanians I know from my former workplace were as honest, decent and hardworking as everybody else at the company.
    Nationality is such a man-made thing (nobody has chosen which country they were born in, right?), but being "against" the other tribe seems to be something deeply ingrained in the most primitive parts of our brains that it is apparently impossible to eradicate it. Maybe one day we'll achieve a higher step on the evolutionary ladder, but I'm afraid it will take many more centuries.

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    1. Meike, as always, you bring a dose of realism to the debate. In an economy which has economic strength and growth there will always be an inward flow of people to do the jobs that are created and for which there is no indigenous labour or where people do not want the jobs (usually at the bottom of the economic rung). The huge problems arise when the economy slows and the labour force is too large for the available jobs. Of course people from the countries of the UK have been economic migrants for the last 500 years conquering and colonising the world. Now we are the economic migrants moving to more prosperous countries to work as doctors and so on and someone has to fill the jobs that our migrants leave behind. We conveniently forget that. However I fear that you are correct in saying that 'tribe' seems to be ingrained. As a person who migrated from England to Scotland in my relative youth I have been on the receiving end of those prejudices on an Island where someone used to be (and to a lesser extent still is) an 'incomer' if he or she comes from the next township (village).

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  7. Rather than commenting on Immigration, I would just like to say that I am incensed by unsolicited phone calls. I don't care where they come from - the Indian subcontinent, Milton Keynes or the Isle of Lewis. I hate having my peace disturbed by them. I signed up for the telephone preference service years ago but nowadays that seems to make no difference - the calls keep coming. How I react to them depends on what I am doing, the mood I am in or which phone is closest. Anyone else I have ever spoken to about this nasty modern phenomenon is equally incensed by these unwelcome calls. I just wish there was some way I could send powerful electric shocks down the phone line. That would teach the buggers!

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    1. YP I've had a good bit of success with the TPS in that I get no sales calls at home. It's the calls from abroad with their various scams that are the irritation. The people selling their services for bank mis-selling are always on my cellphone which was a potential irritation in NZ because they called in the middle of my night. Fortunately I'm a heavy sleeper.

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  8. I have to feel a bit sorry for cold callers, who probably have little choice where jobs are concernedd. On the other hand, I get as infuriated as anyone. Funnily enough, I've just had one, but thought it was my daugher messing around (she's a very good mimic), and so I said something like "oh, come on, Daisy. Stop mucking about!" and the caller rang off, So that seems to work. The other fail-safe thing is to tell the caller that you (ie the preson they are calling) is/are dead. That works a treat.Provided, of course, you refer to yourself in the third person. "I died" doest't seem to work nearly as well.

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    1. PS Sorry for all the typos, but you know what I mean/meant..?

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    2. Cold callers selling stuff is one thing Frances (and I haven't had that problem for many years since I registered with the TPS). The scammers are the problems and I don't feel sorry for them.

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    3. I have an advantage there: More often than not, on those few calls I actually do take, the caller asks for Mrs. _______ (fill in my maiden name or my first married name). I truthfully reply to them that there is no Mrs. _______ at this number, and of course don't tell them that it IS me but my name has changed. So, without actually lying to them, I (maybe) get them to take Mrs. _______ off their list.
      In Germany, by the way, cold calls to private households are strictly forbidden. Of course, not every company abides to that rule, but you can sue them - and some lawsuits have been successful.

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    4. Yes, Meike, making cold calls illegal is an option but, of course, it doesn't prevent scammers from outwith Germany (and the EU) making calls.

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  9. Scammers have found ways to infiltrate our lives for many years....it is how we deal with them that gives us our "infinity points."
    I always get a good laugh when I can throw them off course and they get tired and hang up defeated.
    SCORE!!!
    I always wonder too what makes a person want to do a "job" like that, but then I have to remind myself that where the scammers are situated life is very hard, and maybe they can find no other work.
    I do believe in an honest days pay for an honest days work....but in this case not so much.

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    1. Is it not the problem, Virginia, that this is not an honest days work.

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  10. . It seemed to me a little while back that we had knocked racism on the head, but I am noticing a lot of people worried about it now. Farage is just one - particularly creepy - manifestation of the issue becoming a real problem. HOpefully UKIP's only a protest vote, so far, but the parties do need to take some notice.

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    1. I have a horrible feeling, Jenny, that all is not going to be plain sailing in the UK and Europe over the next few years and possibly decades.

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  11. Hi, via "Boxes & Bellows". I feel sorry for those working in call centres anywhere....the Windows one I terminate politely after a bit...just saying " well, I don't really know why you're calling me as I don't use Windows, I use a linux system"....

    politics? at the moment, apathy rules...and that is a very dangerous situation

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    1. It's a very small world Gwynneth. So many things come full circle eventually.

      PS When I don't put the phone down I do explain that I use Apple but it doesn't make any difference in my experience.

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