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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Some of my best friends are...

I've been re-reading a lot of posts on here over the last few days; and when I say a lot, I mean all of them; and I've reached the unavoidable conclusion that I have completely skipped mentioning a family that lived near us for the entire time we lived in Appleton 'worlds friendliest street' Crescent. I speak, of the McAloons (or MacAloons, I don't really know).

The McA's were, as you probably wouldn't expect, a family of...well...I don't really know what descent. I was going to say Pakistani there, but I realised I don't know that for sure. At the risk of sounding incredibly ignorant and possibly racist, I now realise that I had them down as pakistani in my head because we always referred to them as Pakis. I know, I know, just shoot me now.

It was never intended as a derogatory thing, at least when I said it. I honestly thought that it was just a racial descriptor; although I didn't use words like racial descriptor; because that was what my mother always called them. This was also in the days when you would be sent to the 'Paki shop' for a pint of milk, so it was a very commonly used phrase, and as a child, who heard it all the time, it never occurred to me that it was insulting or offensive. How times change, eh?

Whether the Macs were of Pakistani descent, or some other race of darker skinned individuals, doesn't really matter. I just thought I'd point out their non-whiteness in order to a) point out what always seemed to me the incongruous name; again, I didn't think in terms like incongruous, I just thought it was funny; and b) to highlight the casual racism that was so ingrained into society at that time, at least where I lived.

You see, my mother would often, in her darker moods, forbid us to hang out with them. She rarely had a reason, but the word 'dirty' would often be uttered. I was too dense; or if I'm being kind to myself, too innocent; because I never quite got that. I know...

Anyway, the Macs were our mates. Which makes the tale I'm going to tell next week one in which I act like a bit of a tit. They didn't mind though; they thought it was a good laugh.

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