People Create Their Own Stereotypes

Tuesday 1st October

It is very easy to stereotype people; they fall into such easy categories.  But is it wrong to, are not all people many-faceted, or do we only see one side of them.  I think that people are actually far more complex than they at first appear, with all sorts of influences on their characters.  But then again there are certain similarities which group them together.  Maybe we are a series of tribes that sometimes split off and interweave into other tribes, or maybe just a lot of us lack the imagination to actually behave differently at all.

I travelled to Sheffield and back on Saturday.  The journey back was split by a half-hour change of trains at Leicester, and there was no coffee shop open so I walked up and down the platform and observed people.  I am not sure who Leicester were actually playing, but the train just before mine was for Birmingham New Street, so maybe Wolves.   And there on the platform was group after group of slightly inebriated football supporters.  And they were all stereotypes, self-created, but stereotypes.  Mostly aged late twenties to early forties, all quite big blokes, definitely overweight and a remarkable number were either bald or had shaved heads.  Leaning on each other and singing the first few lines of football songs which often consisted of ‘Oooh Ah’s to my untrained ears.  But no aggression.  I felt quite safe walking among them.  One or two called out, as I had on my famous grey hat “Hey, Indiana Jones.” or some other salutation.  I raised my hat, smiled and walked on.

In the cab to the station I met a much nastier stereotype.  A real racist, who talked non-stop about the ‘bloody Asians’ in the city, and how him and his mates were going to teach them a lesson one of these days.  So much pent-up anger and fear and loathing.  I almost wanted to get out of the car in disgust, but instead tried mildly to answer him with weak platitudes about integration.  At one point he even conceded that some of the Asians he worked with were actually alright, it was the others were ‘trouble.  Such ignorance.

On the DLR home a young woman talked to me, she was training to be a fashion designer, and was the stereotype of a young metropolitan.  Bright, articulate, open-minded, tolerant – a lovely person to talk to.  Stereotypes all, as I suppose I must have appeared to them.