A recent travel programme on television reminded me of an incident in another part of the UK. Another nation, actually.
The UK comprises these nations, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Hence the name United Kingdom. However, the word ‘united’ is a misnomer – according to the history books it was never thus. But we grow up, don’t we, and learn to get on with people of all nationalities and denominations. Or we should!
It is a sad fact that certain people on these islands don’t like their neighbours and it was a much publicised fact that the Welsh didn’t like the English. Nevertheless, Wales is a lovely place to visit, which is what we did one summers day, many years ago.
I think we were in Machunclyth at the time but I could be wrong about that. The memory fades with age, you know. Anyway, we were definitely by the sea. One thing I noticed was that certain shopkeepers didn’t speak. A purchase could be made and the sale completed without a word exchanged, yet conversations would be in progress with other folk in the shop. Sometimes there would be a noticeable change of language - moving rapidly from English to Welsh.
It took a while for it to dawn on me that we were English and some people didn’t like us. Joe thought I was being daft. ‘People aren’t like that,’ he said, being a tolerant man who always sees good in people. However, the next incident brought it home that maybe I was right.
We had taken Goldie, our first Labrador, who adored the seaside. He was a friendly dog and loved to mix with other dogs when the occasion arose. On this particular occasion Goldie had had his run on the sand and we were just standing there enjoying the weather and the view.
Walking down the lane behind us was a young lady and an older man, maybe daughter & father, with a small dog on a lead. Naturally, Goldie wanted to say hello and ran towards the couple. The woman promptly snatched her dog up and bellowed to us to ‘remove’ our dog. I called out that Goldie was friendly and wouldn’t hurt her dog, at the same time calling him to heel. It didn’t help. The woman was outraged.
The incident passed when the couple and their dog moved on. Or so we thought. A few minutes later we moved away from the spot, walking to where our car was parked. Imagine our surprise and horror when they passed us in their car to hear the woman screaming ‘GET BACK TO YOUR OWN B***** COUNTRY.’
I don’t think I’ve been back to Wales since but I did learn from English friends that similar experiences were shared. How sad is that?
I have yet to work out how divided turf can change people's opinions of each other.