I came clean to Cindy about my lack of local friends in this place. I felt all the time, typing my reply to her, that I was swallowing my pride doing just that. And yes… I feel I did the right thing. Why not be honest? She is my friend. Why be proud and hide the fact I am not happy? She is there to help and at the very least, share my feelings and be a listening ear.
When I think about the possible reasons why I just haven’t had much luck here in this so-called “friendliest city in England” place, I think maybe it’s a mixture of me not starting off on the right foot here, and the locals being a bit narrow in the way they select friends. I mean the locals here right, the ones I’ve met at least, they seem to mainly pick for friendship either locals, or people who are related to them through family or work connections, or foreigners who love to kiss their asses.
And you know what? I hate it. This is the goddamn hardest place to find friends (good decent friends) in all of the cities I’ve ever lived in in the whole of England. And yet I’ve heard many a local here say London is an unfriendly place? Not in my experience. I found friends quite easily when I lived in London, without having to have any work or family connections to them in order to be chosen as a friend. And no, I did not have to kiss their asses in order for them to make friends with me. And also it’s where I met my husband.
It’s a fact that Londoners are far more open-minded than the English townies here. Racists without even realising it. Village mentality. Oh yes, although I live in what’s considered a city in England, compared to Singapore and London, this place is a bit more backward and more villagey.
To the locals in this place, any street with more than one black guy is considered “rough” – I kid you not. This is the sort of shit my husband has to put up with at his workplace here. And my husband is white, so they tell him such things because they somehow think it’s “safe” to confide to a fellow white about their sentiments. I am sick of locals telling ME racist stuff about black people and Muslims. For fuck’s sake, we live in a GLOBAL world now.
I admit though that my criticism towards the place probably hurt the sensitivities of the locals here. They are proud of the place and will defend it to the death. I suspect it’s something to do with their villager mentality – this whole related-by-blood/brotherhood thingy going on. Loyalty to a place for no reason other than “I live here, my mum and dad live here, my great grandparents lived here, my friends mostly live here”… It’s kinda dumb. I mean, I’m totally like George Carlin in this respect. I see loyalty to a nation or a place as foolishness. Growing up, in all my done days, I have never ever felt loyalty to a place. Why should I? A place is only as good as it is useful to someone. I always look at each and every place I go to as a place of pros and cons. So good point about a place might be : loads of nice restaurants, museums, concerts, etc. Bad point about a place might be : shit public transport, high crime, etc. I just don’t understand the need to “defend” a place when someone says something they don’t like about it. I mean, if I say to you that this city doesn’t have a good and comprehensive enough metro system that will really allow non-drivers to commute to almost every place here easily… and you want to “defend” the city for that… How are you even gonna start? You can’t dispute a fact without sounding like a person living in denial.
I never had pride in any place I lived in. Neither have I ever had pride in the place I grew up in either, even though I know friends who are and always will be proud of it. One thing I realised is that the reason why I could have gone on disparaging Singapore in front of Singaporean friends was because I was well and truly accepted as a “local” in their eyes, so they could accept my Singapore-bashing.
Their acceptance of my Singapore-bashing had nothing to do with the fact that they are “nicer” people. No. Because over the years, I’ve noticed just how offended Singaporeans (the ones who are proud of their country) can get once they encounter a foreigner who bashed Singapore. They go all barbwire and “Go back to your own country” on them. Singaporeans are not “nice” people. They can be downright rude and brash when they don’t like somebody.
I’m sure when I bash England while I’m here, that’s exactly what the locals think too. Except they are not upfront enough to say it out loud.
In that respect though, the English should be given more credit to for being so polite. Us Asians, we wear our hearts on our sleeves. We don’t hide the fact when we get offended. Manners go out the window when an Asian is offended. That I can guarantee you. With the Brits? Well they are kind of the opposite. And I say all this with a pinch of salt. Take it or leave it. It’s a generalisation I’ve made based on my personal experiences.
I’ll leave you with a George Carlin quote (RIP to you great sir)…