So this week I got home after three weeks on the road in Scandinavia. Lovely places, lovely people, lots of strange foreign booze. It was lovely to be away, but it was nice to get home. Or so I thought.
Now, some background: I live in the town of Weymouth. It's a small place, it's by the sea, it has a certain faded glamour to it, I like it. I've lived here for 28 years, I'd like to think I know the town and its inhabitants fairly well. However, in my absence something ugly and terrible has reared its xenophobic head: A local branch of the EDL. If you don't know who these people are, start doing your research, because they'll be in a town near you soon.
And the most terrible thing? Not only are they preparing a protest in the town (on a bank holiday weekend, nice one), but I had a look at the people who 'liked' their facebook page. Shit. There's people I went to school with showing their support. What the fuck? Did I miss a lesson? I don't remember intolerance and bigotry on the curriculum. And I really don't understand what they're protesting about. The radicalisation of the towns youth towards islamic fundamentalism? For crying out loud, we don't even have a mosque here. Get some perspective, people.
Now, it would be easy to paint these people as thick, and some of them probably are. But not all of them. Some of these people will be educated, otherwise rational people. That's pretty scary. What's more, anyone who lives under a Tory government (don't be fooled, we do) and thinks that we aren't right-wing enough is clinically insane.
So what to do? Well, there's several things to do.
1) When in contact with these people, for it will happen, tut and slow clap them. Don't scream and shout, they enjoy it.
2) Attend the counter demo...and make it colourful. I might even bring a guitar.
3) Start reading the Koran in public places. Buses, trains, cafes and bars. You still have the right to read that book, so you may as well exercise it.
I'll let you all know what happens on the 30th. I for one hope the good people of this town do the right thing and let them know that the thing we really fear is a narrow mind. And if they don't, I'll try and get back on tour immediately.