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October 30, 2014

A Requiem for the English

David Abbott is an old-fashioned newspaper reporter, and so he notices things and can describe them in entertaining detail.  There are not many of his sort left,  although there were plenty of working-class reporters around when I first entered journalism.   Most journalists these days have been to good schools and university and feel that mere reportage is beneath them; it gets in the way of their own important opinions. Too many of them have implicitly inverted the famous dictum of C.P. Scott  of the Manchester Guardian to read “Facts are free, but comment is sacred.”

Mr Abbott is a Cockney, and a very angry one. He is infuriated, frustrated and saddened by the way his country, particularly his native Greenwich, has  been transformed–swamped by vast numbers of immigrants who have no intention of adapting themselves to the ways of the indigenous population, and are well on the way to turning it into a dysfunctional, multicultural babel.  And politicians of all three of the main parties don’t care; this  isn’t a serious problem for them, or for most of the comfortable middle class. They like dining in  exotic ethnic restaurants, and it’s good to be able to pick and choose from so many nannies.

David Abbott wrote Dark Albion: A Requiem for the English as a result of an encounter with an old man called Frank, a friend of his late father,  in Greenwich.

Though the pavement is packed with people waiting for a bus, we are the only ones speaking English. Where in the past there would have been an orderly queue of Cockneys is now a haphazard crowd of settlers…On this freezing day with snowflakes hovering in the air  and dusting shoulders, several are wearing tropical clothes… No one has any concern for who was there before them. This is the new way of waiting for a bus. The likes of Frank and me, heirs to a different custom, find it disturbing.

Suddenly there is a commotion by the Green. Several groups of children going home from school have seen their bus coming and have merged to break into a stampede across the Royal Standard junction, ignoring vehicles and causing drivers to brake sharply. The children all come from a local Church of England secondary school which was founded in 1700. Its website says it `values diversity and is sensitive to the range of traditions and cultures represented in the community it serves`. In reality the diversity of the community is not represented. All of the school’s pupils are black…Recently while going home from school one of the children stabbed another with a knife…In the past, four policemen at a scene signified a serious crime, while mounted bobbies were only seen at big football matches. Now they signal obnoxious children going home from school.  The stampede is an incongruous as a herd of wildebeest streaming across an English road.

When the bus arrives, all the seats are taken, a brown face framed in every window. Inter-ethnic squabbles break out among those trying to get on, and a policeman has to sort out the unpleasantness.

Although Frank and I have lived in this area all our lives, we feel out of place. Our existence does not register with the pushy newcomers who surround us. We have a strange, unpleasant feeling of irrelevance. We are invisible.

Frank becomes angry. He mutters: `What are they all doing ‘ere?`

I put a finger to my lips. Such talk could get him jailed.

He nods. `I’ll walk dahn the ‘ill,` he says.

`Be careful of the ice,` I say.

As he turns away he asks in a whisper, `Can you describe this in one of yer books?`

`I can,` I say, and he smiles fleetingly.

And that’s how Dark Albion came to be written.  More about this book anon.

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