It was a glorious summer day, on a Saturday in June 2010. I very uncharacteristically leapt out of bed, nice and early at the first time of trying. Got myself ready and skipped over to Newcastle City centre.
What could have possibly got such an ardent night owl out of bed, with this much enthusiasm?
England were playing USA that afternoon, in the opening game of the football world cup. For those of you who don’t know, or care about football, allow me to put it into perspective;
The world cup is my Christmas.
In fact, you lot get to have Christmas once a year, but us hardcore lovers of the beautiful game have to wait four years for this bad-boy.
But hours before the game, I was having a goodbye Chinese buffet with my Spanish friend as he was moving to teach Spanish in Russia. Happiness was in the air as me and my amigo drew out our goodbyes and ate a monstrous amount of calories so we’d get our £7 worth of grub. ‘That moment’ finally came on our way out of the restaurant. You know, that one when you’re saying bye to someone, but you don’t know when/if you’ll see them again.
We never got to say goodbye properly though.
Sensory overload hit as we were swept away by a sea of angry, blood-hungry people as we stepped out into the street. I lost my mate and instantly went in to survival mode. Who the hell are these people and who wants to kill who? Don’t they know there’s a world cup on, God damn it?!
It didn’t take me long to recognise the banners from each crowd. I was in a riot: ‘EDL’ & The ‘BNP’ were teaming up against ‘Unite Against Fascism’.
EDL are a ‘political’ group who claim they are ‘not racists’ but their beliefs suggest otherwise. Take a look at this rather intelligent chap:
The BNP, now they are a different type of scum. Here are a few of the ‘not racist at all, I swear on the Queens head’ BNP’s radical views:
. Women can’t possibly be raped, because they enjoy sex.
. The Holocaust never happened.
. Being gay should be a crime.
. We should ethnically clean England and only people who are pure white Anglo Saxon should live here, as anything else isn’t English.
That’s only a few of their charms. Oh and they were founded by the bloke who ran ‘The National Front’, who are also “not racist at all.” These fuckers got voted in with 3 seats in European Parliament (and you wonder why I’m leaving).
And as for ‘Unite Against Fascism’ – they are just as bad (and they won’t like me saying that, but tough shit). Now these guys are some confused puppies. They hold up peace signs, but attend riots in city centres looking for fights with people who they don’t agree with. Imagine a hippy with anger management issues.
Back to the riot…
So what would a peace-loving guy who just wants to watch the football, but has found himself in a riot do? Get out of the riot as quick as possible would be the obvious answer.
Easier said than done!
The police let me know that they had their eye on me, gripping their batons and looking at me with such aggression. You can only imagine my horror when one copper actually swung for me! Luckily, due to my geographical place of birth, I have had more than my fair share of ducking and escaping blows.
But why pick on me? Could they not see by my body language that I wanted no part in this? As I ran to the train station to get to Durham were my mates were watching the game, I noticed a police barrier. The police wouldn’t allow me in the station and proceeded to take photos of me.
As I tried in vain, members of the general public walked past me and looked down on me with disgust. One man even spat on me!
And then it hit me – boom! I worked out why the police and others thought I was one of the scummy, racist bigots: It was my attire.
Generally, when there’s a racist march/riot in England, the aforementioned chaps wear an England football top with a shaved head and jeans.
England shirt – yep, as I was excited for the game! Jeans – yes, because I finally found a 30 inch waist, 34 long pair that week (they are like fucking gold dust). And the shaved head – yes, as it was summer and I had decided to get out of balding denial!
I scurried around for some sort of escape, but there was none. On face value – I looked like one of the members of the ‘not racist at all’ political group members and I was hated by many. I even tried to get into a pub, but the doorman informed me that “my sort was not welcome here.”
As you can imagine, I was mortified by all of this. I’m about as racist as Martin-Luther King! In my panic I thought about defending myself, by arguing with a case like; “Listen, I can’t be racist because I had a poster of Les Ferdinand on my door as a child and I quite fancy that Rihanna lass!”
I opted to not use such exemplary oratory and I finally escaped unscathed, but had to endure more of the same. Even worse – I had some BNP members trying to shake my hand and high five me. I didn’t reciprocate, they probably forgave me because I was white and they are “not at all racist” one little bit.
I can laugh about it now, but it was far from funny at the time. Needless to say, I think twice about my attire when such riots are on! Why am I telling you this on a travel/self improvement blog? Well it’s connected with my new comfort-zone challenge. You’ll have to read the next post entitled “I’m bald, therefore I am” to see the connection and it’ll all make sense. (I swear it won’t be as long as this one!)…