15 June, 2008


Plain Tales from the Multiculture

I had just missed a train. Actually, the train was still standing at the platform as I arrived on the station, but it was at the far end of the platform and really not worth running for. Sod's Law decreed that it would leave just as I reached it, and in any case the next one was no more than a quarter of an hour's wait.

A West African woman, almost certainly given the local demographic a Nigerian, had just alighted from the train and was pushing her baby buggy along the platform, with two REOs and two general rail staff in close pursuit. (REO = Railway Enforcement Officer, the new name for ticket inspector.) The group came to a halt on the platform and a furious row ensued, or rather continued. Having been caught without a ticket, the women had opted for a give-no-quarter, vehement-denial response, refusing to pay, refusing to give a name and address, firmly asserting her right to ticketless travel in the face of bureaucratic unfairness. As far as I could hear, her case seemed to be that (as she claimed to the REOs' evident scepticism) she normally bought a ticket but had decided not to on this occasion, so she should be let off for, as it were, scoring nine out of ten. Interesting logic. The two REOs patiently waited for her to "run down" while subtly deflecting her attempts to push past and escape. I got the impression that the REOs were waiting for reinforcements, probably in the form of the BTP (British Transport Police), as the impasse seemed likely to escalate.

So much so business-as-usual. What happened next is what makes this everyday event something worth posting about. Intending passengers began to arrive on the platform, among them a Nigerian man. Scarcely a surprising coincidence as typically 30% to 50% of passengers waiting at my local station at any time are likely to be Nigerians. Over the past four years or so the district has become Nigerianized to the extent that our first African specialist grocery store cum money remittance agency has just opened. Seeing a Sister in distress, brutally harassed by two White petty officials, the Nigerian man began to rant and expostulate, accompanied by as fine a show of energetic, aggrieved arm-waving as I have seen for a long time, while the male REO calmly and repeatedly suggested that he not interfere. So persistent and intense did the man's ranting become that the REO eventually felt it necessary to threaten to have the BTP arrest him if he did not desist.

The ranter's English was very heavily accented, as well as being distorted by his anger; it was impossible to hear every word clearly, but two shouted phrases stood out: "Human rights" and "George Bush".

George Bush?

Now I know that many of the world's current ills are laid at Dubya's door, and sometimes with at least arguably good reason, but I did not realize that he was the evil force behind the terrible injustice that deprives Nigerians in London of their inalienable human right not to pay train fares.

It's good to know that the tradition of Righteous Victimhood thrives among our newer immigrant communities. A Black man can of course do no wrong; any seeming transgression is in reality justified reaction against provocative White oppression. And as I now learn, such oppression forms part of a deliberate campaign against the Black Man, organized from the White House. Next time my ticket is checked on the South-Eastern, I shall listen carefully for American accents, alert lest the CIA has infiltrated our ticket inspectorate.

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