I write as someone of indeterminate social status, race, religion, ethnic background, occupation, political and cultural leaning, even gender. In other words as someone of indeterminate identity, someone who ticks “Other” all the way down the sheet.
And the sheets are being issued because the battle lines are being drawn. Are you English? Are you Scottish? Are you British? Are you white? Are you working class? Are you middle class? Elitist? Socialist? Do you play golf? Do you like Trump? Barnsley? What school did you go to? Dulwich College?…Whatever and whichever, who are you?
Whatever I am–and all I can say at this point is that that is what I am–people will project identity onto me. From the armed police who flinch into action at Heathrow, to the Victorian-facial-haired post cricket match men out front of posh Sussex pubs on Sunday, to the England-tattooed builders and plumbers down the down-market pubs on the same Sunday I look Moroccan, Algerian, Libyan, Saudi–a beardless neo-jihadi who need only whisper something into an iPhone to initiate Zilzal. And if I was I probably fucking would.
And thereby fall foul of the challenge of these times, rock n rolling with the back and forth on social media. Sharing stuff off YouTube, where the smartphone has become a gun. Richard Dawkins destroys Muslim nonsense. Tommy Robinson owned by Muslim lions. Zionists confronted in Luton. Cameron/Corbyn/Boris owned. Only Blair is never owned. Perhaps, like Hitler, he will finally own himself.
I digress! To identify with this stuff is to tangle with the age old lines of the Lord of the Flies. It is to feel constricted, enraged, abused. It is to feel the inflammation of ancestral wounds that are and are not ours. The sins of the fathers. Some lines are deeper sunk into our being than others. Genetic lines tend to run the deepest.
Being of massively mixed genes I cannot identify on grounds of race. I have looked into the Mixed Race identity and found it far too narrow, being for instance heavily colonised by Anglo-Afro-Caribbean (or whatever the hell the term is) identity. As I said already, I happen to look sort of Moroccan, or perhaps Brazilian. If I got fluent in the culture of Morcocco or Brazil, had a wife and children there, I could perhaps become Moroccan or Brazilian.
But would I want to? Is there not some sort of pretence involved there? Would I not be disowning my identity-free self? Would I not in fact be owned?
This mutable self is not all bad. With enough work on my inner self perhaps I could be many things. Sort of Amazonian. Sort of Andean. Inca, Berber, Aryan, Reptilian, Brahmin (no particular order here ;-)). A sort of Rasputin or Mesmer perhaps. There are as many advantages to this as the disadvantages. I have had my face held in deep affection by an Israeli masseur, formerly a captain in the IDF, and told I looked “so Israeli”. I have been resolutely ignored in Malaysian department stores because they thought I was Saudi. Perhaps my favourite vignette is one from school-leaving days. Back of a car with my fifth-rate public school mates and we drive past a beat-up old Datsun stuffed with hijabs and aloo-faced kids. My mates erupt into predictable tooting and shouting.
When I protested, the response was an affectionate “Fuck off, Nizzie. You’re one of us.” Sometimes I feel, there it all is. It’s all in there. I am all in there. But that too would be to fall down the slippery slope.
I slipped a bit the other day–out in my camouflage (ironic!) jacket and dark glasses, ready to go with any England-tattooed Brexiteer who offered more than a passing glance. The universe responded like the referendum–50:50. One blonde Yorskshire woman at the civic amenity site was remarkably pleasant. Anther bloke with tattoos and Victorian facial hair was ready to go. I would have probably been owned.
I had a go on someone’s Facebook wall. Fortunately they are a wise old soul and didn’t rise to my bait. Only said, in far fewer words, what I am owning up to here.
So. The hell with Brexit. Don’t get owned.