I`m not being funny but.


I sometimes bump into an older lady when I am walking my dog in a local park.  She`s about seventy and has long dyed blonde hair and wears below the knee pleated skirts and open toe sandals with socks. She always has a gaggle of miniature dogs with her on leads, the sort where the main lead has lots of attached smaller leads so the dogs spill around her ankles like a hairy tiara. If I spot her a mile away, I turn around and do a detour as I dislike her views and the way she expresses herself. Sometimes though, she will appear from behind a bush or a tree and I can`t avoid her. She always begins her sentences with, `I`m not prejudiced but,` or `I`m not racist but,` thus throwing out a huge clue that she is all of those things.

I was half way round the lake at Elmdon Park a few days ago and there she was, right in front of me. I had dense woodland to my right and water to my left – there was no escape!

`Hello,` I said, trying to scoot round her but too late, she launched herself into,

`I`m not being funny but have you heard about the new housing being built at` (she mentioned a part of Solihull near where I live.)

`No, no I haven`t I lied,` not wishing to engage with her.

`Well,` she said, `They`re being built by a Housing Association and we all know who they`re being built for! All those illegal immigrants coming over here.`

It put me in mind of a brilliant comedy sketch by one of my favourite comedians, Stewart Lee who delivers about ten very clever and hilarious minutes of a piece called `They Come Over Here.`

I thought about how I should respond so as to get away as quickly as possible, so I said,

`I don`t think there is such a thing as an illegal immigrant since many people are compelled to enter the UK without permission, which human rights law entitles them to do and for this reason, the term illegal is incorrect and pejorative.` 

She looked at me blankly.

I continued, `Secondly, Housing Associations generally operate on a needs basis and those in highest need will obviously be supported first. Someone seeking refuge here in the UK will certainly not be able to immediately access social housing unless they have permission to stay or are at least on the path to obtain leave to stay and thirdly…..`

She was looking distinctly uncomfortable by now,

`Thirdly, you and I have had similar discussions in the past, you already know I don`t agree with you so next time we meet, shall we just stick to hello and isn`t it a lovely day?`

She hurrumphed at me and quickly walked away.  Thank the Lord.

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