My son said to me recently, in between games of Call of Duty 5 on xbox, Dad, how do I know you’re not racist? Go on then, I said, How? Cos you had a black girlfriend. And she’s my mum. Heh, Kids, eh?
The boy himself doesn’t have much colour, you’d call him white and as such is in a minority at his new High School which he’s settling into nicely. He has amongst his classmates, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, you name it.. He’s made some nice friends and the other day they did Kabaddi in P.E. They also did Punjabi in languages but he’s says it’s really hard and wants to do Spanish. Oh yeah and in November he gets an extra day off school for Guru Nanak’s birthday. Yay!
He came home the other day and said rather worryingly that he thought he’d seen a swastika at school. Turns out that swastikas are also still used as symbols in some ancient Eastern religions. Phew! I never knew that so I looked it up on Wiki and yeah, they’re like a different version to the Nazi ones and it’s odd to see them in this other context. So I then start to tell Joe that years ago it was quite common to see swastikas graiffit’d around town centres and that you don’t see them much these days. Well blow me down if a couple of days later I didn’t find myself …but wait, i’ll get back to that.
So I’m in Ealing Common waiting for a 207 bus, looking at building work going on behind the station. There’s still something about a bloke up a crane that has the little boy in me staring up in fascination. (1). Down in the gutter meanwhile, there’s some swirling water which I thought looked nice and once again I get lost detecting faces in, what Sherlock might’ve called a ‘Three Puddle Problem’. I found Dinosaur (2), Jesus (3) and Monkey in a Fedora (4). If you can see the monkey then you’re as barmy as me. Then a car drove through it and drenched me.
The 207, as one of London’s much maligned fleet of Bendy Buses, faces scrappage under Mayor Boris. But I say, instead of replacing them, why not make them more fun? The rubbery concertina bits should be musical. So every time they go round bends
they sound like accordions. A skilled driver could do Dirty Old Town by the Pogues whilst going round Victoria Station. Ealing to Hayes is a straight run anyway so the bendy bits are pretty redundant. If it’s full you may end up standing on one of the connecting panels that swivel you round like some old-fashioned waist-toning exerciser. And the destination: Hayes-By-Pass, is at once both a location and a hint as to what to do when you get there.
I’m sorry, i’m sure it has some redeeming features but the day I went it really wasn’t very nice. There were Murder enquiry posters in the windows, zombie drug dealers in the churchyard and , within minutes of my arrival, I find myself staring at some stools on which are drawn swastikas that i’m pretty sure are not of the Hindu decorative variety. I won’t say where I was but it wasn’t Land of Swastika. That closed down in the 80’s. So I took a photo with the offending symbols in the foreground and several oblivious Asian men sitting beyond.Ooh, I thought, that’s social comment for you. Then I thought actually just the crosses by theirselves are more disturbing. (5.6) The way they’d been lightly, patiently, drawn into the soft red fabric, indicative of the casual, creepy insidious racism that you still find in these sort of places in places like Hayes.
Now, not wanting to have to say ‘I went to Hayes and all I got was this lousy swastika’, I try to take a photo of something nice. And in the churchyard there’s some lovely dappled light reflected on a fence through the trees. The first shot wasn’t much cop but whilst i’m walking around to find a better angle, i’m getting serious evils from a couple of dead-eyed pale faces. I thought, do you know what, I just want to get the fuck out of Dodge. So I did. And I did report the swastikas by the way…
Back in the room my son suddenly shouts -I don’t want to die! I look up alarmed then realise he’s back on his xbox live shouting into his headset whilst systematically destroying hoards of Nazi Zombies. And I swear I recognized one of em from Hayes town centre…