Friday, 4 April 2008

North or South, East or West, Xanadu-du Is The Best

UPDATE: In light of certain comments made on this post, I have added a few clarifying notes: they are in blue.

I got myself entangled in an utterly bizarre exchange of comments on a blog last week, and I'm using that as an excuse for the lack of recent posts. I urge you to follow this link, read the original post, and then read the comments from I*maginate (the opponent) and Keefieboy (me, the Good Guy). If you haven't wet yourself laughing or died of bewilderment by the end of it, you can have a free copy of my book.*

There is this thing in England/UK, called the North/South Divide (and I'm sure there's a similar thing in Spain, probably called the Costas/Meseta Dividir, and in every country on Earth where the area around the capital city is more wealthy than the outlying regions). In all of these countries, you usually get a situation where intelligent and ambitious people (not necesarily the same set of people) gravitate to where the opportunities and the money are. Norman Tebbit famously summarised this: no work where you live? 'Get on your bike!'

Thanks to globalisation, it has become increasingly easy for anyone from anywhere to move to wherever they want. Thanks to the EU, I could fly into Poland tomorrow and make gazillions as the only plumber in town. I might have to learn how to do plumbing first, but maybe it's optional.

I*maginate's dribblings didn't trouble me much. There is no sense in which I feel inferior to any other Brit (or, indeed, anyone else on the planet) just because I happened to have been born in Durham City and raised in Doncaster, Yorkshire, in the North of England. I have lived in: Weybridge, Surrey; Brighton, Sussex; Leicester; Liverpool (2008 EU Capital of Culture, don't you know); Edinburgh (a very short gig, but I liked it!); Cardiff; Bristol; Bolton, Lancashire; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dubai, UAE; Madrid, Spain.

The question is, where the fuck is I*maginate from? Latest betting is Waziristan, Pakistan (as suggested by an anonymous commenter: I have no personal knowledge/opinion), and she has not yet responded to that suggestion. She's certainly not a Surrey lass.

So, when a (supposed) Pakistani (who lives in Dubai, and as far as I know has no real comprehension of British society - and I only say this because she is very elusive about her origins and background) complains about hearing the word 'Scunthorpe' over the P.A. system at a posh horse race, and then goes on to denigrate a sincere questioner, you have to ask yourself: what planet are you on/from? The Real Nick commented about how weird it was that a Northerner now living in Madrid was having this fight with a (supposed) Pakistani living in Dubai about the supposed English North/South Divide. Weird, indeed.

This all happened on The UAE Community Blog, which is a kind of boxing ring for locals and expats and anyone who has ever had a connection with Dubai to talk tontería and have occasional fights like this. I'm not sure I wish we had something like it in Spain!

I don't have anything against Pakistanis (except those who support the Taliban/Al Qaeda/Musharraf) or anyone, really. I just don't like bad guys. I don't quite know where I*maginate sits: I'm sure she doesn't belong to any of the above-mentioned groups. But it really would be cool if she came out of her little closet and gave a little more information.

I'maginate is definitely off my Christmas card list.

*Documentary evidence required, terms and conditions apply.


BuJ said...

Oh Keefie, in Arabic we'd say "af7amt" or you turned someone into coal!

A brilliant post as usual. I couldn't agree with you more about everything!

Like you, I secretly suspected the Pakistani connection.. unfortunately I wasn't good enough to be able to narrow it down to Waziristan.. mind you Pakistan is a large country with 165 million people so it's good to be specific. Also, it's a nuclear power, so let's not get I*maginate too tangled up lest she unleash an angry uncle.

Keefie, like you, I have nothing against Pakistanis.. in fact they make up some of my closest friends. One thing all my Pakistani friends have in common though, is that they are very proud of their roots.

Someone who denies their past will be denied a future.

UAE Community Blog correspondent in Wazirstan said...

My sources have confirmed to me this morning that the municipal forces here have placed a complete ban on 'Chip butties' all across the region. The impact on the local population is yet to be measured.

Back to you guys in Madrid.

Keefieboy said...

Buj: that laast sentence 'deny your past, lose your future' is just fantastic!

Anon Chip Shopper: yeah, right.

BuJ said...

LoL at the correspondent :)

Keefie.. glad you liked my last line.. when i typed it i looked back with a glint in my eye,, hehe

the main difference between a scalar and a vector is that one has direction.. (i hope i didn't make this too vague!)

hemlock said...

umm... keefie boy, i'm pakistani, and i'm aure i take offense to you suggesting i*maginate is from Pakistan. (no offense to i*maginate)... =P
why would you think she's from pakistan? anything i should know about (As a pakistani?)
you dont really have to give a damn about it, but if you are going to be racist, come out with it. i was subjected to racism when i was 10 years old, living in bristol, and had my 'paki' roots thrown in my face.
on some place like the "community blog" one WOULD expect a certain level of respect, but apparently that's asking for too much.

additionally, wazirstan is in afghanistan, NOT pakistan. and musharaf was the best thing to have happened to the country, but that's a story for another day.

rosh said...

Keefie - I was going to say something since reading this post last evening.....but chose not to , 'cause it's all quite sensitive.

I have to agree with Hemlock a bit, as this post comes across a tad bit offensive? If I may ask - how would you classify people from multi racial backgrounds? Say, imaginate was half pakistani and half Arab or English?

As for the british class system - it's alive and kicking.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

I read all the comments in the first post... and I actually agree with Keefie.

Seems to me that some people have identity crisis. No offense to fellow Pakistanis, like Buj, I have loads of proud Pakistani friends. But the question here is not that, I think it has more to do with the dodgy answers of i*maginate to Keefie's innocent questions.

I mean, I understand there are some bloggers who do not like to advertise their nationalities. but then do not accuse people from northern UK of "shedding their identity upon landing [in dubai]"…etc...etc..

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Rosh, if I was half Arab half English, and I was asked where I am from, I would say that I am half Arab half English.

It’s simple, no?

Keefieboy said...

Hemlock, Rosh: you'll have to read through the whole comment thread on the original UAE Comm Blog post. The suggestion that I*maginate is Pakistani came from an anonymous commenter on that thread, and it has not been denied. No offence meant, whatsoever.

Keefieboy said...

Hemlock: Waziristan

Desert Princess said...

hmm..interesting debtate that I'm sure would be even more so if I actually read the original comments between ole keefie and the (pakistani?) girl :) so yeah, there's no point in me commenting really except to announce my presence (I like to be around when there's good stuff going on) hehe.

alexander said...

Ummm... I*M is always crusty, fast to take offence and snappy.

Umm... Keefie is, deliciously, 100% Brit. Not an arse, understand, but Brit 4Sure...

Ummm... they sparked.


The World Continues to Turn...

Keefieboy said...

Alexander: Brit4Sure TM. I like it! And 'not an arse'! I like it more.

hemlock said...

keefieboy: some anonymous commentor made the suggestion. you made a whole blog post out of it. i*maginate can be from timbuktoo for all i care...

when you say: "So, when a Pakistani complains about hearing the word 'Scunthorpe' over the P.A. system at a posh horse race, and then goes on to denigrate a sincere questioner, you have to ask yourself: what planet are you on/from?" you are NOT referring to i*maginate,you are referring to us desis, and assumed she is one of us.
i understand the britons have a birthright on snobbery... the least you can so is admit yer racist.
i can live with that. i cant live with a hypocrite who says one thing and means the other.
we pakis are brown, not stupid.

if you have a bone to pick with i*maginate, please do so, by all means, with her. without bringing in pakistan or pakistanis. and if you intend to bring pakistanis into it, know that you will be offending people. even if you dont intend to (yeah right, we all believe your good intentions).

Keefieboy said...

Hemlock: chill, will ya! You're almost as bad as me, making a billion comments because I saw the word 'Scunthorpe' used in what I thought was a derogatory way, and you saw the word 'Pakistani' used in what you thought was a derogatory way. You are free to think what you like about me, but I suggest that before you start calling me names, you read all of my previous blog posts (it might take you some time, there's about 800 of them). Know this: nobody calls me a hypocrite and gets away with it. Read and try to understand the comment thread on the UAE Community Blog article.

Investigate the background of I*maginate: I have no idea where she's actually from. In a way it would have been better if she was from Essex or Hampshire. You have no idea how this thing is affecting me. It's like fighting with jelly.

If anybody's being racist in this thing, it's I*mag, not me. FYI: I do not judge people by their race or the colour of their skin, nor by how much money they have. I judge people by their actions. That's all there is to it. Believe it or don't. And I don't actually know why I'm wasting my time on this.

You mention snobbery: I think that's what this whole thing is about. I*maginate made the most snobbish remark i*maginable. I hate it, really I do, and it hurt me. There's no need for it.

hemlock said...

Keefie: my bad. i really shouldnt have insinuated you were being a hypocrite. it REALLY burned me up that you took her to be pakistani and then took it from there.

it wouldve been funny provided no (actual) pakistani was reading it, cuz there are races all of us like to p*ss on... i*maginate was VERY racist in bringing in south india. as if being a south indian is a bad thing. they are honest, hard working people who keep to themselves and mind their own business. taht was the second incidence she was disrespectful to one not like herself.

i just wish you had gone about handling it in a better way. Tc.

Anonymous said...

Well if my guess is right, IM' has emarati father and pakistani mum..

Hemlock...Waziristan IS part of Pakistan..

the real nick said...

You guys have nothing better to do on a weekend? Probably an apt substitute for a good old pub piss take. Which it ought to be, right?

I can understand both where i*maginate's remark is coming from and Keefie's offense.

There is something weird about globalization, cosmopolitanism and all that. People of different descent assuming new identities all the time and thus perpetuating old cliches and prejudices as well by trying to assimilate. This works OK as a technique for fitting in but is not always reciprocated by those who want to maintain and define identity – which in itself is not racist at all, I guess, but a defense mechanism.

I guess Keefie was bewildered by being dragged into the old North-South piss take by someone whom he considers not party to it. Coming from Rupert from Richmond the nose wrinkling remark about ‘Scunthorpe’ would have been easy to brush aside as the usual arsing about. Coming from a posh ‘coconut’, apparently not.

Do we want outsiders to integrate and assimilate into our own culture to an extent where they become like us, warts and all, prejudices and clichés included? If we do, then Keefie could have brushed aside that remark as if coming out of Surrey because it doesn’t matter who played the game.
But by taking offense Keefie defined his Englishness and the Englishness of the piss taking game as a closed diversion to be joined by invitation only. We are all allowed to laugh with Jonny Vegas, but not at him.

I am not taking sides, though.
Having been an expat for fourteen years in various countries I am regularly playing vernacular games as an outsider, and often I am being told to fuck off because it isn’t my sport. Move on.

At least we can all together take the piss out of the Pikeys.

Anonymous said...

List of bloggers to whom i*maginate was rude before:
1- Secret Dubai.
2- Inmotion.
3- Arab lady.
4- ..etc…
5- ..etc…

Arab Lady said...

I believe you gave that women importance by blogging about her

Don’t ever give sick ppl a damn,,,, I just ignored her & her ridiciolus comments..she even posted a link with a humiliating nicknames! how sick! but invisible ppl never make an impact

Lovely blog keep it up

Keefieboy said...

Arab Lady: I believe you're right. Ah well, we all make mistakes.

rosh said...

Keefie, I apologize, didn't mean to offend or take sides. Partly picking up from Nick - multiculturalism is a consequence of globalization, and almost inevitable are people born off mixed race couples. Hence, unless, am reading this post upside down, in today's world of globalization and multiracial off springs, the post could have come across a tad bit offensive, though, I understand it wasn't meant so.

If I may - should you follow i*'s blog, like most folks, she has her ways of writing, humour and style -may not gel with all. Fact, someone shouted "Scunthorpe" and soccer results in the world's richest horse race, is uncanny - not the norm, (say, it's not as bad as someone saying, how many black or nonaffluent white men you see at the PGA tour and turn outright racist). I can only urge you to read it in context - she did apologize, and clarify the context it was raised. That said, I understand, you are free to vent, disagree, protest as you see fit.

As for the class divide, am not sure, why people talk of the gap in today's world. The rich, poor, poverty, snobs and silly folks exist all over the UK. I think the problem with Britain is purely given the divide they've had over centuries , including continued varied levels of education, income and several other factors that influence levels of class consciousness. Class was perhaps a staple part of the British way of life. However, think it is evolving given multiculturalism and a changing economy. Personally, today, even though I believe these factors are gradually eroding the British class system, some features of the system still remain - hence perhaps it shall remain an elitist nation for some time to come.

Class segregation exists worldwide. For some reason, people feel more comfortable with people from similar class/backgrounds. It's similar to the class divide which exists, say in India, the UAE or most places.

rosh said...

"if I was half Arab half English, and I......

....It’s simple, no?"

DJ: in conservative societies, this isn't that simple. In the UAE, some claim, off springs of mixed races are often not considered equal to pure Emirati. Likewise, with some Indians, who've probably never lived elsewhere. It gets spiteful.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Rosh, you are right. It gets spiteful and I understand why certain people wouldn’t like to advertise where they are from. For instance, and please don’t take it personally; I don’t know where YOU are originally from. And I don’t bother to ask because as far as I am concerned you have always been courteous to people and never offended anyone.

While on the other hand, i*mag is an example of a slippery personality. Once she claims to be a fan of Al Ain club. The other, she’s dreaming about getting married to a local guy. The second she’s giving a humorous (not say offensive) stance within the northern / southern UK divide. I mean, you’d really have to ask yourself where is she from. I honestly have nothing against her, but I reckon, as the anon comment above suggested, that she’s been rude and very offensive to many bloggers before (specially females!). All in the endeavor to maintain her pretentious ‘princess’ image.

Again, I really don’t have anything against her, but the whole thing is bizarre and beyond my limited comprehension. It’s probably true that only an experienced sociologist would be able to answer all these bewildering questions.

Keefieboy said...

If anyone is still following this post (don't you have anything better to do?), I've just gone through it to add some clarifying notes. Purely because most of what sparked this post happened on a different blog and I would not like to leave it in the not-entirel-clear state it was in.