Wednesday, November 21, 2007

English Mutha F*!*a! Do you speak it!

Remember that scene from Pulp Fiction? The one where Jules is frustrated by the little white punk who’s stolen Marcello’s case (what was in that by the way??). Well I’ve seen that film countless times and always understood that Jules delivers the line, along with a tirade of other deliciously dark threats, because he wants the young dudes that have crossed him to feel real fear before they die. However, having recently spent a couple of days in one of Europe’s capitals, I realise that Jules’ anger was simply an expression of his frustration at not being able to communicate. Believe me, if I’d have had a gun last weekend, you would have been reading about my experience in the Daily Star and not my blog. To explain, I’m reasonably well travelled; America, Asia, Africa. I’ve seen a few places and naturally I’ve had to bumble my way through most of them using pigeon English and mimes (only any use if you want a long piece of rope or a large box by the way) but never have I been so frustrated at the local people’s lack of ability to understand me as last weekend. And where was I? London! And I’m not talking here about stopping some one in the street and asking them for directions. That I could understand. Alright, it would be bloody unlucky to pick 12 tourists in a row but statistically, I could deal with it. No, I’m talking about people working in the service industry. Taxi drivers who don’t understand ‘Covent Gardens’. Bell boys who don’t know the word for stairs (which luckily I can also mime although the first time I tried I was offered directions to a night club) and fast food joints where the people working there couldn’t say anything unless it was on the menu.
I love the fact that London is multicultural. I love the fact that people from every continent can feel confident enough to come here to live and work. But I would love it so much more if this didn’t mean that I couldn’t go to the shops unless I have a phrase book. Of course, there is another side to this. We are told time and time again that the immigrant communities are a drain on the British welfare system. Seems to me that they are the only ones doing any bloody work!

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