'Well, you know'

My dad had quite a weather-beaten face.

For what it’s worth, he was considered white,

But sun and sand had scorched his countenance

(North Africa was where he served his war).

Once an outraged lady asked my mum:

‘You all right, dear? I feel sorry for you,

What with your husband being, well, you know.

Where does he come from?’ My mum replied ‘Bow.’

The lady pursed her lips. ‘That can’t be true.

Believe me, dear, I’m not completely dumb.

We haven’t seen his sort round here before.’

‘Why on earth does she take this stupid stance?’

Thought Mum, now sympathising with the plight

Of anybody marked out by their race.


◄ Mile End

Funfair ►


Profile image

Stephen Gospage

Sun 11th Dec 2022 20:34

Certainly, John. It's now recognised as a serious condition!
Cheers, Rudyard.

Profile image

John Coopey

Sun 11th Dec 2022 18:06

I think it’s legitimate to be Bowist Stephen.

Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Sun 11th Dec 2022 14:39

Some distant islanders back in the day
Didn't welcome visitors who came their way;
They clearly didn't like their look
And promptly slew poor Captain Cook! 😦.

Profile image

Stephen Gospage

Sat 10th Dec 2022 09:27

Thanks, Hélène. It was a different time, as they say, but it's great to see that attitudes to race and diversity have improved so much since then. Glad that you are enjoying our efforts. From the sub-zero temperatures where I am, California sounds great!

Thanks also to K Lynn.

Profile image


Fri 9th Dec 2022 18:33

In addition to your poetry, love reading your discussions guys; lessons in culture, geography, politics, emotions, etc. (me=Californian senior citizen). Keep on writing!

Profile image

Stephen Gospage

Fri 9th Dec 2022 17:02

I am very grateful for your comment,Keith, with which I completely agree. Apparently, a group of local people had begun to suspect that my dad was 'coloured', as they said back then. Even in the 1950s some people apparently had nothing better to do.They must have been so disappointed to find out that he was really a white man from Bow. All rather disturbing when I think back on it.
Uilleam - probably not. I am sometimes mistaken for Flemish when I speak French. Pies - why do they grab the steak and kidney first?
John - there was a rumour that he had lived in Wapping (or, God help us, Limehouse).. We all know what that means!😁
MC - my Dad wasn't a visitor, of course, but I agree that England has a history of unwelcome visitors. Boris Johnson, for instance (Born in New York) - why did they ever let him in?

And thanks to Bethany and Nigel for liking.

Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Fri 9th Dec 2022 16:02

I see it as a tribal thing in an historical sense. As for England in
particular, perhaps it has its roots in its history as a place where
the arrival of "visitors" had never brought good news to the
comfort and well-being of its residents in the past - from those
pesky Vikings through to the impertinent ambitions of the
Spanish Armada and der Fuhrer! Islands can tend to possess that "siege mentality".

Profile image

John Botterill

Fri 9th Dec 2022 15:59

Yes Stephen but where was your dad really from? Haha 😂
Where are any of us from? Planet Earth!

Profile image

Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Fri 9th Dec 2022 13:09

20 yrs ago I was backpacking my way from northern France. I wasspeaking French at a market stall and was asked by an elderly French chap where I was from. When I explained - in French- that I was from England.
He said "oh I thought you were German", (because of my guttural accent probably).
Should I have been offended?

Anyway on a more serious note: It's Pie Eaters I can't stand.
Who ate all the pies? They bloody well did!

Profile image

keith jeffries

Fri 9th Dec 2022 09:29

Stephen, these misconstrued encounters are daily occurrences yet betray hidden prejudices. One can only hope that time will eradicate such nonsense.
A topical poem and one worthy of some consideration.
Thank you for this

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message