I DIDN’T expect much when I sat down to watch White Kid, Brown Kid, the Channel 4 documentary which aired on Monday night about two teenagers from Dewsbury.
My first misgiving was because – unless I’m much mistaken – it looked like Farhana, the Muslim girl, actually lived in Batley, which would be something of a liberty for starters.
Secondly, I was surprised the film made it into production at all – because I spent a considerable amount of time last autumn traipsing round the district with the producer, director and presenter Luned Tonderai, trying to open doors to find suitable girls for the programme.
It was difficult enough finding the right white teenager, although I thought they struck gold with Siobhan, her mum Bridget and estranged dad Charlie, from Chickenley. I thought they were super.
Finding a ‘typical’ Muslim girl and family to participate was always going to be like pulling hen’s teeth and in that the producers clearly had to compromise.
The stereotypical Muslim teenage girl in these parts is clad head to toe in black – she does not wear beautiful bright dresses, lipstick, make-up, and look like Miss World.
That’s why the man whose hand I’d most like to shake is Imran’s, the taxi driver dad who was brave enough to break the taboo that holds our towns in a cultural stranglehold. He took a sassy white teenager into his house – and her family – and more critically he let his daughter off the cultural leash to both visit Chickenley, before letting her get on a bus and go shopping for the first time in her life (at 17?!) albeit with her younger sister as the mandatory chaperone.
Reference was made to the family coming under pressure from ‘the community’.
I’ll bet they did.
I’ve seen lots of critical comments about the show. Fair enough, each to their own – but you can’t tell the complete story of Dewsbury and Batley’s segregation in an hour, through the eyes of two kids and their families.
This wasn’t going to change the fabric of the deep division, the inherent suspicion and even dislike, with which a large proportion of white and Muslim people regard each other.
White Kid, Brown Kid illustrated, quite simply, the reality of life in this district.
Chickenley is a fair example of a still white, working class neighbourhood – far more than areas like Dewsbury Moor, Westtown or Thornhill Lees which are now majority Muslim. Chickenley might even be the last bastion.
If the programme came up short at all it was in failing to get a typical, conservative Mulsim family to take part. Convince a Savile Town family to join in? You’ve a better chance of winning the lottery.
We didn’t see which mosque Farhana’s family attend but I’d hazard that it’s of the more moderate Sufi/Barelvi tradition than the Deobandis that dominate Savile Town and Mount Pleasant.
That notwithstanding the girl’s mum was clearly reluctant, which was quite telling.
If moderate families have issues with letting a young woman get on a bus at 17, what does it say about the more conservative Muslims who dominate this district?
So, have Siobhan and Farhana developed their friendship since the cameras departed? I’d love to know and would like to think so, but I expect not. Back to business as usual.
Has Imran’s family been celebrated or snubbed in Batley Carr since the programme aired? The former, hopefully, because I for one applaud his courage, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
White Kid, Brown Kid didn’t find any kind of solution to our divided communities’ deeper issues because the differences are simply too deep, too ingrained.
I thought it told a decent and revealing tale about decent, ordinary people with more in common than they thought. Sometimes, just letting the story be told is the best we can get.
SO THERE I was on Tuesday, paddling my canoe to work.
After taking off my sou-wester and wellies, I was immediately confronted by the downstairs staff, their icy blue noses poking out from below their woolly hats and above their donkey jackets.
It was difficult to tell what they were saying because their teeth were going 90 to the dozen. Something about “it’s bloody freezing in here boss and can’t we turn the central heating on?” Something to that effect.
Central heating on – on the 5th of September? My how I laughed.
Taking off a couple of sweaters and my fur-lined mittens I sat at my desk with a mug of scalding hot Bovril and began to read my morning paper.
“UK set for Indian summer,” said the headline. What, Geronimo and his Apaches are coming to town?
I thought England were playing the West Indies at cricket, not India.
Still not to worry. It’ll soon be Christmas.
I WOULD love to see the police papers presented to the CPS which saw a health spa owner prosecuted for sexual assault.
Kerry Brocklebank admitted rubbing some oil into the calf of an anonymous chap as he waited for his male masseur. He is anonymous, because alleged victims of sex crimes are protected by law, which is right. In this snowflake’s case however, sadly it means he can still go down the pub without the lads ripping into him.
He felt violated by the calf massage, apparently. Her boobs “were only inches” from his face, he said.
Well, having seen photos of the amply endowed Ms Brocklebank, she could have been in the next room and that might still have applied.
And though she told the court that the calf is not “an erogenous sexual zone,” sorry love, in the looming presence of those puppies, I might actually beg to differ.
But still, Cambridge Crown Court heard no evidence that she gave him a ‘jiggle-jiggle’ round the chops, for which blokes usually pay extra.
No, she just rubbed his calf for a few seconds, then his lower back briefly at which his protest and the arrival of the male masseur ended the incident. And so he ran crying to the law. Dearie me.
Have you called the cops lately, for a car or garage break in, a burglary perhaps? Did they turn out or just give you a crime number?
I am gobsmacked that a senior officer signed off on this, although in these Politically Correct days of madness, nothing surprises.
Perhaps they offered to deal with Ms Brocklebank by way of a police caution – which is how Kirklees Police get rid of electoral fraud – but she declined. But for the CPS to bring charges of sexual assault, battery and perverting the course of justice? A full on Crown Court trial?
They’ve lost the plot.
STILL with the police and it’s rare that I’ll offer a word of comfort, but it is very true, they are under immense pressure from budget cuts.
The Tories have some nerve, demanding better results from forces when they are systematically paring their funds to the bone.
It is however a problem very much of the police’s own making. For years their priority has been to mask the actual levels of crime; to talk victims out of making complaints, to hide true levels of criminality, to mask and massage statistics – to deceive public and politicians alike.
They’ve been so good at it that their cash has been slashed – and now it’s coming back to bite police chiefs on the backside because as people in the real world know, crime is rife.
PS: I wrote that before Thursday’s news that West Midlands Police have been failing to record nearly 39,000 crimes a year, including assaults and rapes.
You don’t say.