Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Arrogance, Aggression and Accusation

My recent visit to East London has left me astounded and appalled by the lack of tolerance amongst so many of the locals. Never in my life have I encountered so many arrogant, aggressive and accusatory people before.

Now I consider myself to be reasonably tolerant of others and will generally try to excuse a certain degree of bad behaviour - maybe the person was having a really bad day; perhaps they’ve just received bad news; it’s possible they don’t feel too well; or maybe… well… y’know… there could be all sorts of reasons why somebody ‘bites’ for no reason. East London, though, seemed to be teeming with people who were deliberately looking for an argument, and that’s something I really can’t excuse.

Now this particular area of London, for those who don’t know it, is a melting pot of cultures so it’s very easy to blame ‘the immigrants’ for the problems. I’ve mentioned it to a few friends who have blamed it on ‘the Asians’ or ‘the Muslims’ and as soon as I’ve said that a large percentage of the people my daughter and I had problems with were white they’ve jumped in with “ah yes, the Eastern Europeans”. But no, I’m talking about LONDONERS here.

Those we encountered that clearly had an attitude problem were, for the most part, either white females in their late twenties/early thirties with a clear East London accent or black women of Caribbean decent, the latter belonging to an immigrant group that have been in the area for a long time and who I’m sure would consider themselves Londoners.

We had women screaming from their car windows at us because LM, being a stranger to the area, wasn’t changing lanes quick enough, one of which started to follow us whilst making lewd hand signals, women snatching clothes from rails right in front of us and pretty much pushing me out of the way in shops, a veterinary nurse who gave me the filthiest look because my Dad’s dog had never been to a vet before (even though I’d explained that he’s NOT my dog and that I disagreed with the way Dad had treated him), a woman with a pushchair and half a dozen kids asking in a sarcastic tone whether I was some kind of cripple because I obviously wasn’t walking quick enough for her, and a woman who rolled down her car window at the petrol garage and suggested to her children that they all clap at “the clever lady’s parking skills” because she had difficulty getting her ruddy great 4x4 past LM’s tiny Vauxhall Corsa, even though she couldn’t have got much closer to the petrol pump.

What on earth is wrong with people?

I can only put it down to having to live in a fast area of the city where traffic jams are abundant, there’s no escape from noise, and queues in shops so long that you need a whole morning just to buy in your groceries. Needing everything done NOW and QUICKLY must become so engrained in them that anything that holds them up in the slightest is likely to tip them over.

Living simply must be incredibly difficult there.

I’d rather spend my life watching a spot develop on my knee than live in East London again.

Sharon J


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Catz said...

Sharon there really is no excuse for such bad behaviour and I am so sorry that your trip was ruined by such ignorant folk! We loath having to drive into London to visit our kids and can't wait to move our daughter back in with us and away from the area she now resides in. She has been mugged twice, once she got a black eye as the little sod snatched her phone from behind and the other time was not far from her front door but she talked her way out of it! bless! confused them I think! The aggresiveness of the other drivers was almost unbelievable to behold, most were talking (or maybe worse texting) on their mobiles while driving eeek! There may well be some nice folk left in the area but they do seem to be in the minority.

At least you and your daughter are back to your peaceful home now, hope LM isn't too traumatised by the experience, imho she was very brave to even attempt it in the first place!

emmani said...

I feel very sad for these people Sharon...they have been sucked into a vicious life in a dog eat dog world. I know that I used to be quite similar in my angry actions towards people. It took me a life outside of 'Great Britain' to break free from my 'Superiority Complex'... when you see what life throws at people who are REALLY hard done by (not because you stole their parking space) you realise the true worth of every single person you meet. They may one day be 'enlightened' if they are lucky. But we need to show patience towards these fighters and not fight back... give them a smile instead, treat others how you would like to be treated and the 'pay it forward' thing may take effect... (I hope!)

Richard said...

At least you got back without being stabbed.

shabby chic said...

I am not a huge fan of London , only because I like living on the coast. It sounds like there are a lot of stressed people there at the moment. I think in todays society people are quite aggresive about certain situations etc , wether it be parking, queing up. I have to park a million miles away as I am awfull at parking!!I really am
.I expect you were glad to get in and pop your feet up!. I know I would have been!

WebSmith said...

As harder lives are forced on us, many of us will tend to take it out on the undeserving, because they are available, instead of the people responsible.

Those responsible, of course, are not available and laugh while shaking their heads at the squalor they have created.

The responsible ones are intentionally flooding our countries with the desperate who will suffer indignities and work for less so they can make more. You are made to feel guilty and self centered for objecting to this.

In the end, no one will be able to help anyone and we will all suffer equally and those responsible for the suffering will still want more.

wombat064 said...

Dearest Sharon,
Pack up your stuff and come and join us in Australia. Yes, we too are a cultural melting pot but hey thats what makes us Aussie.
And yes we do have our fair share of dropkicks and drongo's that are intollerant, impatient and just plain rude, but nowhere as bad as what your describing.

Melton, Victoria, Australia

Jade of the Jungle said...

Sorry to hear that! There are some REALLY rude people in London, I once had a comedy exchange with a lady pushing a pram. She came up to me and asked if I had a pen she could borrow. I rummaged around in the bag, said no, sorry (I actually didn't) and all of a sudden she started mouthing off, effing and blinding "wot, you in your suit, you're telling me you aint got a pen?!" and i was like, erm, no I actually don't. Was a bit shaken at the time but thinking about it now, it was pretty funny....

Sharon J said...

@ Catz. How awful for you daughter to have had to experience this. My mum's been mugged a couple of times too, broken into once and there was once a guy pretending to be from the water company who 'tried it on' with her. The quicker I can get my mum up here to relative peace & safety, the better.

@ Emmani. While I understand what you're saying and agree that we should always try to show compassion, there are times when I'm afraid I'm just not able to. I'm not Mother Teresa I'm afraid and when people are when I find myself surrounded by deliberately aggressive people, most of my sympathy goes out of the window. I suppose it's something to do with 'survival of the fittest'. I do generally practise 'pay it forward' though.

@ Richard. Indeed we did. Things could've been worse.

@ Shabby Chic. I'm not exactly brilliant at parking either. Just the thought of parallel parking can sometimes bring me out in a sweat!

@ Websmith. I completely agree with everything you've said. Our governments want us to be dependent on stuff so that we'll work long hours for a minimum wage and then spend that money again on things we don't need, getting into debt etc all of which causes stress and anxiety. With London being such a melting pot, it's very easy to blame everything on 'the others'.

@ Wombat. Thanks for the invitation - if only it were that easy :)

@ Jadeofthejungle. After my own encounters, your pram lady story doesn't shock me in the least. If only people could be just a little kinder. [sigh]

Anonymous said...

Hurrah for the Watford gap - sorry that was mean. People have less real choice in life than they might need, nut much of the pressure is self inflicted and our ultimate choice is to be as humane as we can. They should know of Viktor Frankl. I am sorry you encountered so many who choose otherwise. What a prig I am!!!!

Anonymous said...

You were where I live, or near it anyways!
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. Yes some people are very rude, some are great though.
When I hear of co-workers being held at knife point I do get scared...

Eco-Gites of Lenault said...

When I come back to England now I really notice how many more people are sullen, selfish or downright rude. These are things seen much less in France where cordiality and politeness are the norm. Why are so many people in England so angry all the time?

Rosie x

Sharon J said...

@ Cherry Folfe. Prig? Never!

@ Notesfromthefrugaltrenches. Were we really? How close? We were in Woodford and Stratford.

@ Eco-gites. I despair of the British sometimes. Not all, obviously, but compared to a lot of other countries, we certainly seem to have more than our fair share of aggressive people.

Debi said...

Oh poo! Sorry to hear about this - as a Londoner I feel responsible (even tho I know that's stoopid).

Cathie said...

I'm appalled but sadly not in the least bit surprised by your nasty experiences.

We left East London two years ago for a simpler life having had ten very happy years there. Our friends who remain there raising young children tell us we wouldn't believe how much it has changed for the worse & how they wish they could leave. I guess there are many reasons for the people who were so vile to you acting the way they did (violent pc games, telly, modern day stresses, ignorance, the way they were raised etc) but imagine if all of them wanted to leave London like we did but were unable to leave. I feel sorry for them & extra extra glad for me.

Sharon J said...

@ Debi. Well I'm a Londoner by birth and upbringing too so perhaps I should feel just as guilty?

@ Cathie. It's certainly changed a lot, yes. The sooner my mum can move up here the better.

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