Monday 29 April 2002


We’d ventured west, combining a picnic in the mountains with a visit to see H’s new baby at the hospital. Now — after presenting the flowers, admiring the baby, and mixing uneasily with the relatives — we were filling up with petrol for the 35 mile trip home.

Shrieks and yells pulled my attention from the spinning numerals on the bowser to a gaggle of teenagers at the next line of pumps. Tattoos, shaven skulls, bovver boots. We were deep in skinhead country. I felt uneasy, and ashamed of my unease.

The noise evaporated as they scrambled back into their Chrysler. A hard boy — older than the others — strode out of the 7-Eleven. Short and stockily built, he wore a dark green T-shirt with SPIT in huge white letters across the chest. Looking at Natsuko’s old Volvo (and me) with loathing, he slid into the driver’s seat, slammed the door, flicked the ignition, and revved the V-8.

I ran through a checklist of possibilities, from bundling Natsuko into the 7-Eleven to locking ourselves in the car to fleeing without paying for the petrol. Still, I consoled myself, it’s broad daylight. There are three other cars filling up. They won’t try anything here.

As though he’d read my mind, SPIT-man threw the car into gear and careered out onto the main road. I relaxed and tried to cast off my shame.

But, rather than diminishing, the roar of the Chrysler’s engine increased in intensity as the car zoomed back alongside.

Two brutal young faces crowded the rear passenger window.

“Why don’t you and your wife get back to Asia where you belong?” one of them yelled.

“Fucking Asian cunt,” screeched his offsider. And just as suddenly they were gone.

It was my first encounter with racism, or rather, my first time I’d been subjected to racist taunts. I felt embarrassed for Natsuko and — perversely — wanted to apologize for my countrymen’s behavior. But, her face flushed with excitement, she interrupted before I’d uttered a word:

“Did you hear what they said? They thought I was your wife.”

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what a wonderful story

Posted by Sean Stewart on 26 February 2003 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2007 Jonathon Delacour