Clang! The china cup rattled as Hershey slammed it into the saucer, presumably to emphasise the point he was making. Or attempting to make. Frankly, Hershey was not the best at coherent arguments when under pressure. Or, you know, generally. Made you wonder why he always seemed so bloody keen to get into them, really. You’d think he’d be less inclined to row about something, when every time he got into a heated discussion he managed to come across like a complete dolt. Still, that was Hershey for you. What he lacked in poise he made up for with bloody-minded persistence.
“You don’t… You just don’t… See, the thing is… They’ve got to go, because we can’t support them, and… Do you want our pensioners dying of cold? ‘Cos if you want any old Johnny F who comes ashore getting a Beamer, or, or, or, Merc or something… It’s… It’s… I mean, I love all people, I don’t care where they’re from, but it’s OUR country…”
I glanced around the table. Eyes were already being rolled, heads being sarcastically nodded, sighs being audibly…well… sighed. Generally, in any other circumstance, with anyone else, I would be the one to wade in at this juncture – all guns blazing, so to speak – but with Hershey it just wasn’t worth it. To be honest, Hershey was a one-man walking billboard for the virtues of open borders. The more cringeworthy clichés of immigrant fearmongering he tossed out – courtesy of those fact-checking behemoths at the Daily Mail and Daily Express, natch – the more you could feel people becoming more amenable to new arrivals and more disdainful of those who tried to drum up some sort of over-population scare.
“And I… I mean, what I try to do… I just don’t want our great country to be… Well, you know… My grandfather was at Tobruk… Well, he wasn’t, he was in the British embassy at Cairo…but he COULD have been! And… I mean, is this what he fought for – could have fought for, I mean?”
Was anybody even listening any more? I think even the amusement value had worn off on the rest of the party. K-Gor (real name Kenneth Gorman) was inspecting his little finger to see what he just removed from his ear. The Sparrow (real name, Jennifer Sugden, so named because she was a workaholic teacher who you only ever saw in the Summer…and, well, the mistaken bird nickname just stuck) was staring blankly into space, presumably trying to calculate how many exams she could have marked in the time it took for Hershey to get to anything resembling a point. Michael Collins (real name, tragically, exactly that) was trying to flick barmats, tiddly-winks style, into yours truly’s pint. Peace Njanka (again, real name) was…actually, now that I think about it, she was looking at me. Huh. Might be in there.
“Look, the crime…the rate of crime, violent crime… You know, I’m not saying…not for a minute…It’s not all Pakis or Indians or Blacks or whatever… I mean, those Eastern-Europeans, they can mix it with the best of ’em…worst of ’em, even… The violent crime always goes up when people come in, stands to reason, doesn’t it?”
Anyway, eventually Hershey’s discourse on the pitfalls of modern nomadism reached its climactic conclusion, and we all rooted around in our pockets for some change to throw at him. Not really. There was about ten, maybe twenty seconds of awkward silence, then Michael said something along the lines of, “Bollocks, piss off back to Twickenham you wanker”, the pair traded insults for maybe a minute, and the subject was changed to something more group-friendly.
I sat there though, and I wondered… Why the fuck did we hang out with such a politically-blinkered idiot? Did his idiocy make us feel better about our own stances, maybe engendering a certain smugness and security in our own self-righteousness? We knew that there were way more people out there like him than there were of us, though. So shouldn’t we shake him by the lapels, bellowing into his face, “FOR FUCK’S SAKE MAN, LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR SAYING AND ACTUALLY ENGAGE SOME GREY CELLS FOR ONCE!” Maybe I was exaggerating the extent of everyone else’s agreement, anyway. Maybe the others, loathe to agree with the mumbling moron though they were, still thought some people should not be allowed into the ‘country’.
Ah fuck. The Hershey Political View interlude obviously affected me more than it normally did. Must be depression. Or, I thought, as my eyes and Peace’s met once more, the horn.
For fuck’s sake. I always get like this when I’m pissed.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…☆