For those of us in the UK the past few years have been unusually divisive. The Brexit saga was quite an eye opener, many of us found it best to keep quiet about which way we voted. You think you know someone, you seem to share similar attitudes, you laugh at the same things, then suddenly they say something that really jars with you. We put people into categories, assuming that if they tick one particular box the rest will also apply.
I made the mistake once of trying a bit of matchmaking. Two gay male friends were lonely, each recently jilted. Both liked gardening, animals, and were close to their families. A perfect match right? Wrong. They could not stand each other, and worse, were deeply offended that I thought they were compatible.
Some years back there was quite a surge of extreme right-wing activity in this area, with individuals and businesses being attacked. I joined the Anti-Nazi League. I also joined Vegetarians Against The Nazis (that had them quaking in their bovver boots I can tell you!)
The other members were mainly teachers and academics. The first sign that maybe I did not fit came when attending a talk by a survivor from Auschwitz. She had published her memoirs and we queued to buy them. Someone produced a Barclay’s cheque book, and all hell let loose. It nearly came to blows.
The organiser and his wife were Marxists, and took to coming round to preach to me. The last straw was an ANL newsletter. The right-wing thugs were also football hooligans, so the answer was obvious, we had to go to matches and start punch-ups.I left, and they made it clear I had been a big disappointment and wasted their time. I had just one thing in common with them, and that would not suffice. They wanted all of me.
Today I find I am tip-toing around the whole Covid issue, making tentative little remarks before deciding if it’s safe to let rip. It’s indefensible, but something a bit primitive and ignorant is at work. I find myself smiling and nodding while thinking “Oh dear, I do wish you had not said that, now I am no longer sure if you are my type of person”. Luckily Spock shares my views, but I know a few families with clashing attitudes, and it is causing real rancour.
I had a sort out yesterday and came across a big collection of badges from various causes I had espoused, and others that were fun. ”Only Rotters hunt Otters” “My Karma Ran over my dogma” “Inspector Clousseau Against the Berm”. What assumptions about me had been aroused in those who read them? Today I think I need a badge that says “Let’s keep our thoughts on lockdown private, and we’ll get along just fine”
A Moodscope member.