Someone called me a ‘Whingeing Pom’ this week. He had no right to. He wasn’t an Australian. If he had been, I might have forgiven him for not knowing any better.
Maybe I might also have asked him if it weren’t just a teeny weeny bit racist? Of course not. It was what we called ‘banter’, a harmless piece of fun we used to indulge in as teenagers.
Referring to my Journal column, he added insult to injury by complaining that he suspected I had become a ‘closet socialist’, which I naturally took as a compliment.
That also brought back treasured memories of the Seventies and Eighties when so-called friends alleged I was a “Red under the bed’ during my days of working for ‘Red Ken’ Livingstone’s Inner London Education Authority.
They even tagged me one of the ‘looney left’ at County Hall in the capital, even though I doubled up at nearby Shell Centre, headquarters of the international petroleum group.
All I could counter that one with was to explain that the ‘looney left’ were among the nicest people with whom I had ever worked. Unlike some of my former Shell colleagues, who were definitely much more right of centre.
Since then I have been called, ‘Blairite’, ‘Thatcherite’, ‘Fascist’, ‘Communist’, among other contrasting things. Need I go on?
Well maybe to thank the Celtic comedian who told me the only people stupid enough to laugh at Irish jokes.
Which of my many nicknames do I like best?
‘Grantham Pete!’ Because it is usually said with such sympathy, as I say I am proud to come from a town once voted the most boring of all.
More banter. That is what it all is really and anyone who takes offence should look the word up in a good dictionary. In my book that means: goodhumoured joking, repartee, teasing, etc. Bigots take note!