Pink Shoes, Charity, & Immigrant Me

Stormy skies can be restful

Stormy skies can be restful

Warnings for: musings (1), mentions of vigorous exercise, and substitute swear words (“Cuss Lite”(TM)

I have given up swearing for autumn, and taking up running til at least early December. It remains to seen which one proves more chuffin’ difficult.

I’ve probably whinged before – and undoubtedly, unless WordPress shuts me down, or the world ends, will again – about the fact that new immigrants to the UK do not receive a handbook on arrival. Nor did the “Life in the UK” test cover such useful subjects as food, old telly shows, or swearing.

“Life in the UK” did (2) include a section on sport, though it was comparatively brief compared to such useful bits of information as, “What percentage of the Welsh population are from ethnic minorities?” According to my husband, who’s a Yorkshireman, and helped me study, the real answer is, “All of them: they’re Welsh.”

The citizenship exams are probably on my mind because a Polish lady we know has just sat her English exam, and is sitting her “Life” exam next. The subjects of immigration, refugees, and the like are also in the news and, judging from my own life, a heated topic of conversation.

It’s also nearly five years since I officially became a British subject. I say “officially” because both practically and emotionally, I already thought of myself as Anglo-American. On a practical level, I had worked, paid taxes – including National Insurance (NI) – and did my best to follow laws and rules such as putting my bins out on the correct day. I’d also become involved in local causes, politics, and charities, as well as given money, and, quite literally, blood.

Which brings me to my latest charitable venture, and the Shoes of Extreme Pinkness:

2015-07-28 06.54.11See?

So far, the shoes and several pairs of socks are the only kit which I’ve purchased for the fund raiser I’m running on Sunday 6 December: the 10k “Percy Pud” race in Sheffield.

I do have one other bit of kit which I have been wearing whilst training: a t-shirt given to me by one of the two charities I’ll be raising funds for, Combat Stress. The other charity is also a mental health one, and is specifically round a project(s) aimed at helping people in my adopted home town of Doncaster.

Because, whilst I’ll always be American – and tick the “White, Other” box on forms – I consider myself to be not only British in law, but by choice, and heart.

Because, in part, I was allowed to make that choice. I was and am white, speak English, and am not – directly, at least (3) – perceived as belonging to a “scary” category of immigrant.

Next time someone asks “But why don’t the such-and-such – fill in the blank with the ethnic and/or religious group of your choice – assimilate?” – ask yourselves: are we honestly giving people a real choice to join in?

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

(1) This blog is subtitled “Musings of a British Eccentric”, so it’s on the tin
(2) As of Spring 2010
(3) I am half-Romanian on my dad’s side

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About Sheila North

I am an author and ex-journalist, who has written novels, short stories, and poems. I also help facilitate a writers' group. Check me out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sheila-North/
This entry was posted in Immigrant Me, mental health, Running and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Pink Shoes, Charity, & Immigrant Me

  1. blahpolar says:

    England is brutal. Perhaps everywhere is.

    • Sheila North says:

      It’s brutal, it’s kind, too. Yes, I suspect everywhere is, especially when it comes to “them” v “us”. Fear is a terrible divider, and ignorance makes it worse.

      I was amazed, and am still saddened, by the attitudes from the former “melting pot” which was America. Bizarre attitudes given that many of these people are second generation Americans. I am third generation and I still remember where my grandparents came from.

      • blahpolar says:

        I think “the system” is the brutal bit and I’ve always, always found people up north kinder than those down south (I’m a southerner from a mixed north/south marriage hahahahaha). People though – it doesn’t take much to polarise us.

      • Sheila North says:

        Cheers! The north is kinder than the south is a stereotype that, unlike almost all stereotypes, seems to carry a fair bit of truth.

        All it seems to take to polarise is a sufficient amount of fear and ignorance. I am fortunate [sometimes!] that my life took twists which resulted in my playing the “them” role, although becoming a foreigner was my idea, developing mental health problems was not.

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