Friday, December 08, 2006

Thou shalt conform - pt1

My Great Grandparents enjoying Wolverhampton

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m part way through scanning a few boxes of old family photographs. So far most of the pictures I’ve scanned come from my Mum’s side of the family.

They immigrated to Britain during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Because they were dirt poor there aren’t many pictures of what their life was like in Italy before they left. There are a couple taken a little later on, after my grandfather first moved to the UK on his own, and a little money started coming in. And even those few pictures manage to convey a sense that life wasn’t that crash hot back in the home country.


Which is why people in my family will never get over the concept of polenta being sold as high-priced delicacy in poncy restaurants or the entire bijou, rustic, country-lifestyle, bullshit myth in general.

Polenta ... hmmm, yummy

A few years of eating cornmeal mush every day, crapping in fields to make up for the pisspoor soil and needing to recycle your own urine in a dozen different creative ways will take the edge off that particular fantasy quite nicely.

Life was so hard where my mum’s family came from that they considered moving to 1950s Wolverhampton to be a step up.

Sorry 1950s Wolverhampton, but that’s fucking rough.

And so, after a spell in a POW camp, armed with no English, sharing a room with a half dozen other migrants and having to report to the local police station every couple of weeks because of his resident alien status, my Grandfather started doing shit jobs for shit money that the indigenous locals didn’t fancy very much.

And things gradually got better. Never exactly brilliant, but better.

I only mention all of this because with a background like mine I’m hardly going to start picking on any recent migrants into the UK who have come looking for a better life.

And with regards to the integration issue, personal experience tells me that the first generation is never going to become entirely British but the second generation can quite easily.

Or maybe I should use the past tense. Maybe it isn’t so easy any more...

1 comment:

de said...

Replace a wop with a kraut and my family story is pretty similar.

By the way, did Blair mention "Iraq" at all today, or is he now in complete denial?