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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Intolerance – 2

Perhaps it’s because Wales is only around 25 miles away, and it could be that the regular experience of visiting: hearing Welsh folk speak Welsh is to me no big deal. That’s what they speak, and if they want to talk to one another in that language – or any other – then good for them.

However, as two unfortunate Welsh speakers have found, not everyone in England is so relaxed, or tolerant. As reported in the Guardian, they had the temerity to have a conversation in their own language in the innocuously titled Grange Gifts, in the Isle of Wight resort of Shanklin, which led to the owner asking them to speak in English, then throwing them out of the shop.

This might look a bit like something out of Fawlty Towers, but for those of us who lived in Bradford in the late 70s and early 80s, it brings back an uncomfortable feeling. Because demanding that someone “speak English” was the way in which the local braindeath would often choose to intimidate those attempting conversation in Hindi or Urdu.

Meanwhile, the proprietors of Grange Gifts might just find that they, too, are reminded of Fawlty Towers. And it could be the episode that, for so many years, was not in demand with the networks in Germany.

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