...and no...I'm not a Cliff Richard fan.
I was oop north for a few days. I parked up near Tommyfield Market in Oldham and went for a stroll.
I saw three elderley ladies sitting outside a cafe - despite the cold - gossiping away. Two were white Englaish and one was clearly a muslim as she wore the gear. They were happily gossiping away, comfortable in each others company. Good.
A few moments later I bought a bag of chips from a Pakistani muslim chip stall holder. As he served me several shoppers of my age and above 50+ walked by. Many said 'Howdo' to him and he waved and said 'Howdo' back. Good.
Older Pakistani/Bangla Deshi muslims talking English with a northern accent. Older white English northerners chatting away to them quite happily. No hint of anymosity. No hint of Islamophobia. No hint of the muslims wishing to have nothing to do with the indigenous people. Good. Bloody good!
The muslims clearly happy to be English and muslim and, equally importantly, happy to be a part of the wider community. The wider community clearly happy to welcome them. Being muslim no doubt important to them but, not at the cost of 'not fitting in' and being a part of the community as a whole. Excellent. I've found my Nirvana.
A group of 4 young muslim lads sat at an empty stall jabbering away in a foreign language. Clearly born in England, English was equally clearly not their language of choice. They made a comment at three white girls passing by. The only word I caught was 'whores'.
The three white girls turned and yelled abuse back - such as 'fuck off you Paki bastards' and the like.
I saw variations of this theme played out six times in less than an hour.
I left Tommyfield Market slightly confused and not a little alarmed.
I'm of a generation that has often struggled to accept the 'multi-culturalism' that has been thrust upon us by consecutive governments without any consultation. We didn't want it and, generally, don't particularly like it. Should the 'foreign' part of this awful 'multi'cultural' experiment have even tried to adapt to England, we may have been prepared to give it a try, but, sadly, a significant minority - particularly muslim it has to be said - have made it perfectly clear that, whilst they want all the free hand outs that are going or, at least, the better life style afforded to them whilst living in England, they want nothing at all to do with England itself.
The older muslims in Oldham, or at least the one's I saw, obviously view the world through different eyes and had clearly made the effort to 'join in' and had equally clearly reaped the benefits of behaving sensibly and realistically. It may well be, and almost certainly will be, that there are older muslims in Oldham who behave as their younger counterparts did and a substantial number regardless of age do in the south but I didn't see any evidence of this.
The behaviour of the young muslims of Oldham however was a real cause for concern.
Old farts like me will die before most young people around today. My 'difficulties' accepting other cultures - or at least cultures that are invasive and clearly want nothing to do with mine - I always assumed would be a thing of the past once people like me had shuffled off this mortal coil.
The attitude and behaviour of the several groups of young muslims in Oldham suggested otherwise.
Even more alarmingly, it is not just extreme Islamists that are being abused back after dishing it out. I can understand and empathise with that happening. You're in England so behave in a way acceptable to the English - 'when in Rome' and all that.
There may be trouble ahead methinks...perhaps more than I realised...and almost certainly sooner than I realised....
Laters n let's be careful out there....