Just learn the language

Wednesday 28th September   

Re-reading my blog of yesterday, I really don’t want anyone to think I am racist, or in any way biased towards people who weren’t born here.  Quite the contrary, I really quite like the fact that London is so cosmopolitan, and as you know, I have always loved travelling in Europe, where the openness of most Europeans is in stark contrast to the “Little Englanders” you so often find back home, who seem to hanker for some imagined time past when the “foreigners” hadn’t invaded.  The reality of course, is that, especially in Britain, we have been invaded by “foreigners” for millennia; that’s one of the things that makes us British, our inclusiveness.  I must admit that I had led a pretty sheltered life, and had never met a black person until I started working, but especially in Hotels there are so many people from so many countries that you just get used to it.  By and large I take people as I find them, and try to disregard the colour of the skin, and I have realised that it is accent far more than skin colour that excites prejudice.  Who could be more British than Lenny Henry for example, but when you are in a shop or speaking to someone on a helpdesk it is more than frustrating when one encounters an impenetrable accent, whether it be from Bangor or Bangladesh I might add. And in restaurants when the waitress can neither explain the dishes, nor even understand what you are ordering then we have reached a sorry pass.

There was a time when we nearly decided to live in Tuscany, we looked at house prices, and were weighing up the pros and cons, but decided not to in the end.  It would have been quite easy for me, as I was becoming quite proficient in Italian, enough to shop anyway, and I had already decided that were we to move, I would start Italian classes and learn the language properly.  You cannot expect people to accept you if you cannot even be bothered to speak their language, which makes it all the more annoying when people either cannot or will not learn to speak English.  I understand that councils spend a fortune in translating everything they send to people into several languages, which just perpetuates the problem if you ask me.

I am perfectly happy for anyone to come and live and work here; after all if they are working they are paying taxes, and spending money in the shops, so helping to employ more people.  What I cannot understand is why anyone would go to a different country to work and think it was okay not be able to make themselves understood.  So, come all you Poles, Ukranians, Chinese, Indians and Africans, you are most welcome as long as you can find yourself a job.  But for goodness sake just learn the language.