It's worse on days like today, when it's cold and drizzly and I've just had a text exchange with a mate in Edinburgh about how depressing and frightening it is that the BNP managed to get a couple of goons elected to the EU Parliament. I keep telling myself that as bad as it is for the people in Yorkshire and the North West, at least we didn't elect anyone here in London. Sometimes I worry though. I checked the BNP member list when it was released and one lives around the corner from me. Often, I'll pass someone in the street and think is it you? - and wonder what he would do if it was, what he would think if he saw me and my wife out together. I wonder if he drinks in the pub accross the road. I wonder what his life is like.
This morning, I hunched up my shoulders and stomped off, letting the door bang shut behind me. I had exactly ten minutes to make it to the station, and it takes me exactly ten minutes to walk there at my morning pace. I have to walk through a park, and sometimes I dawdle and risk taking more than the allotted ten.
When we first moved in, we were warned not to walk through the park at night because it was a bit rough. We ended up staying away for a while, but only yesterday we wandered through it together and we talked about how stupid that was, and how the park was okay really. There was a group of kids playing football in one of those little metal cages they have now, with goals at either end and basketball hoops fixed above them. A couple of older blokes were playing hackey-sack like it was 1988. I said how nice it could be in the morning when it was quiet except for the people walking their dogs, and I might have mentioned the girl whacking a tennis ball at the cage who I've seen over the last week or so, but there was nothing like that this morning. The grey drizzle was probably keeping people away.
Stomping through the park, head down, I saw a discarded CD. It's not unusual to see rubbish all over the place in the park. The other morning, a bench was surrounded by a small explosion of drinks cans, sweet wrappers and plastic ice-pole wrappings and I was reminded of the common near where I used to live, where teenagers would regularly smash up the bench that only they sat on. At least this wasn't that bad, and I'm supposedly in a worse part of London here.
This morning though, there was only a lone silver disc lying in the middle of the grass, spotted with drizzle and a single blade of grass stuck there looking like a green crack. Somebody had written over it in thick black marker. Instead of an album title and artist or a cramped track listing were these words around the outside:
Fuck all you blacksAnd squashed in a block at what was obviously the bottom of the circle:
Im gonna have to start killing you scumI stood, blinking at it for a while, listening to the rain lightly spotting my coat. I looked up to see if there was any sign of who put it there, which was stupid when I started thinking about it so I looked back at the disc to make sure I hadn't imagined it.
Fuck all you blacks it said, I'm gonna have to start killing you scum. I thought about taking my phone out of my pocket to get a picture, but who would I show it to? Why would I want to show anyone anyway? Should I call the police? What bloody use would that be, and what could they do about it?
I thought about stepping on it, and what it would feel like to press it into the grass as it squeaked against the sole of my trainer. I probably wouldn't hear it crack that loudly. There might just be a dull crunch under my foot. I thought about throwing it hard at the path, but it would probably only clong unsatisfyingly off the asphalt and roll off into the grass somewhere without even chipping. I should have put it in the bin, but in the end I just left it there. I hunched up my shoulders and lowered my head and left theCD in the grass.
We can talk about Labour forgetting the working class all we like. We can (and I no doubt will, at legth) point out the similarity between BNP rhetoric and that of the tabloids until the cows come home. We can spend our time pointlessly throwing the BNP back and forward at each other shouting that they're right or left wing like a couple of kids shouting 'lurgy!' We can even spend our time actually engaging with the people who voted for them last week, pointing out the flaws in their woeful ideas and exposing what lies beneath their childishly thin disguise of respectability, and we can do all this until the next election, when we're surprised again than anyone put their X next to these chumps.
But we won't change the fact that a lot of people who voted for the BNP last week and a much larger percentage of the party representatives themselves are not moved by whether or not Labour represents them, whether they're right wing or left, or whether the BNP's policies are logical or make any sense. They're driven by visceral hatred.
They're driven by the same emotion that made someone pick up a CD and scrawl Fuck all you blacks on it, I'm gonna have to start killing you scum.