September 5th 2007
I’ve whittled it down to Moslem men who won’t smile back at me – usually the corner shop owners where I buy my bus pass: I suppose they think a white woman is being shockingly flirtatious and they are affronted. Fair enough. I think it’s sad though and hard when you have been brought up to be polite and pleasant to people as a matter of courtesy. I suppose it is no different from black people who shout to each other in the street (polite to make sure you can be heard) or domestic workers (in S.A.) who won’t look you in the eye (polite, but suggestive of shiftiness to the uninitiated.) There’s also the example of black men going through a door before a woman – in order to defend the female from a possible enemy on the other side (I’ve been told.) I just wish that we had all been taught comprehensively about cultural differences in school. I certainly wasn’t. Do they do it today? I guess when these things enter the routines of comedians we have to look ourselves in the face. There is an Iranian comedienne in the UK one of whose jokes is: “When I say my body clock is ticking, everyone hits the deck.” I did laugh, but it’s tragic really.