Times have changed

3
SIGN: Found in establishments in the 1960s


NO blacks. No Irish and no dogs. This is the oft publicised ‘unacceptable face of racism,’ of the late 50’s and early 60’s, when landladies, letting out rooms in areas of London and other cities posted this on the doors and windows of their establishments.

By today’s standards these signs do of course appear utterly disgusting and totally unacceptable. But times have changed drastically since those far more insular and uninformed times.

Back then, these were not blanket judgements, simply because of someone’s skin colour or country of origin. They were decisions made because of the general reputation gained by those who were considered foreigners at that time. Many Irish were not welcomed by landladies because the vast majority worked the roads and building sites, and on weekends were renowned for arriving back at all hours and keeping all the other tenants awake by bellowing Irish ditties at the tops of their voices.

People of colour had, in the main, only recently arrived from countries which were far less developed than the UK, with many having never even seen a toilet or experienced abodes with running water. Through no fault of their own, their general standards of living were vastly different to the locals. The landladies simply couldn’t cope with the culture differences. As for dogs, this was in no way a comparison. Merely that landladies didn’t want the barking to annoy the other tenants. We weren’t racists; we were merely treating those around us as we found them.

I personally NEVER judged people by creed or colour. In those heady flower-power days, I truly did believe the UK was the forerunner of how the whole world would be one day; convinced that in the words of Blue Mink and Madeline Bell, (who I know still peruses this column) that all we did indeed require was a great big melting pot, turning out coffee coloured people by the score!

For a time I lived in Bayswater’s All Saints Road. At the end of the road was a pub frequented mainly by the black neighbourhood community. I was often the only white face in the pub and thoroughly enjoyed the company and the Ska and reggae music while enveloped in the vaguely sweet aroma of ‘pot.’ No racism there either.

Some years later I returned to reminisce in the area which held so many memories. The taxi driver wouldn’t even drive down the street! I walked to the packed, still wholly black clientele pub and after a few minutes made the decision to leave because of the uncomfortable silence which had descended over the whole establishment. I truly was utterly shocked and disappointed.

Believe me, we were never the racists. Generally we welcomed those from different societies. We never envisaged that our liberal attitude would in later years bring the threat of other religions and cultures trying to alter our whole way of life and democratic liberty. No wonder the UK is now infested with racist views.

When you find yourself arguing racism with some snowflake or another, remember to remind them of one thing. Those people had all the best intentions in the world. And now find their very freedom of speech threatened! Just saying…

Keep the faith,

Love, leapy.

leapylee [email protected]

3 COMMENTS

  1. Before the usual suspects go ballistic (again) this is not a crit of Leapy, God bless him! I’ve read his whole article, but I just want everyone to think BEYOND his narrow far-right agenda and think hard about the much, much bigger picture. It’s not pretty. God help our children and grandchildren. What a divided world we have brought them into, eh?
    Want to see where it’s all heading? Just watch ‘Years and Years’ on the BBC iPlayer. Series 1: episode 1 – Emma Thompson playing devil’s advocate and a lot of well known faces backing her up. This is the most subversive thing I’ve seen since Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ on Netflix. Enjoy!
    Ok, so it’s fiction, but aren’t we living in an era where fiction is often presented as fact? Answers on the back of a one Euro note and I’ll be a millionaire in no time!
    And while you’re on the iPlayer why not watch Andrew Marr’s programme, ‘Europe: the big vote.’ By Jove it shows how we’ve all been hoodwinked, and it ain’t fiction.

  2. Hi Lee
    Most signs I ever saw was a very long road in Bristol called ” Coronation Road ” Every 3 or 4 story house had had Card in window 1958
    Stating no Blacks ; No Irish & No Dogs……. Could understand the Dogs & Irish who were heavy drinkers but did not understand No Blacks : But nobody considered or had heard of the Racist word. Just accepted it was Landladies choice who she had in her house.
    Even I had couple landladies tell me once been there while, she had thought about taking me in as a Teddy Boy. But pleased she had !!!
    It was & should still be up to each owner who he or she takes in her house as Lodger. Without fear of being called Racist because they are not. Shops, Public Houses, Restaurants all are allowed to refuse to serve someone acting in way to upset others using the premises
    The UK TeddyBoy

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