Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Welcome to Oldham

Hot. Well- hot for North West England. I guess all you folks in Hawaii and Japan and scattered across the USA would find this weather pleasantly mild. Anyway, I'm sitting here in the backroom in an open necked shirt and for me that's radical. It's pretty rare that you'll find me without my woolly jumper.

I was talking to Khadijah and her family about what a sleepy, backward sort of a place this is. It's a divided community. There are two main tribes: the whites and the Pakistanis and they're mortally scared of one another. Khadijah's husband is white (but a Muslim) and he says no-one in the local mosque will speak to him. You'd think....well, you'd think all sorts of things ... but in a place like this you'd most likely be disappointed. The whites stick to their enclaves- the council estates and the pretty villages on the edge of town- and the Asians stick to theirs- which are mostly in the inner-city. When Asians start moving into an area there's white flight. Most of the schools are monochrome. A few years back there were riots- smoke on the Glodwick skyline, the police helicopter circling low- ker-chopper-chopper-chopper-chopper- and afterwards local politicians were speaking about making huge efforts to bring the two communities together. Have those huge efforts been made? Oh, there have been cosmetic changes, but no-one has the guts to do anything really jolting, like forcing the schools to integrate.

Our street must be one of the few in the Borough where white and Asian live side by side in roughly equal numbers. I take a fierce pride in this.
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