Published January 22, 2012 by Claire

This is Bristol. My hometown, and has been since I was four. Some nights when I’ve been out of town, and drive back into the city, along the Portway or up the A38, I see it all laid out in front of me and am filled with such pride. It’s a fantastic place to live, so much on offer and so much history and heritage combined with forward-thinking and new development. Watching the lights of the city come into view brings this feeling of such immense potential, and gives me a sense of wellbeing and at-home-ness that I find difficult to put into words. I am proud of Bristol, proud to be Bristolian, complete with “oo-arr” accent.

Or at least, most of the time. There are times when Bristol is represented in such a way that one could almost hang one’s head in shame. When you switch on ITV and find four people in grubby tracksuits being harangued by Jeremy Kyle because two of them have produced a baby and none of them are sure which two it was, for example. And then they open their mouths and you realise they’re Bristolians AGAIN. That’s not so good.

But it pales into insignificance when compared with the sight that greeted me when I visited one of my regular chaps last night. He’s young, and sweet-natured, and mild-mannered, and life has thrown some sh*t at him and I’ve watched him deal with that and grow through it, fighting his demons all the way. He’s also Indian, and on Friday night in a kebab shop somewhere in this city, a complete twat punched him in the face and broke his nose, because of the colour of his skin.

I feel so angered, frustrated, rage-filled over this. This guy moved to Bristol from London a couple of years back and loves this city. He’s full of praise for Bristol and I feel so ashamed that he’s been treated this way. Of course racism isn’t solely a Bristol issue, I’m not stupid. But I’m so lost as to how in this day and age anyone can verbally abuse a stranger without provocation, and when they try to turn away, can hit them with such hatred and such force. And then leave, laughing, and go on with their life. I might meet that guy. He could be a client,  or the next plumber I call, or my bank manager –  and I would never know. That’s why my shame  extends to the whole of the city, because I can’t pinpoint it with any more accuracy.

I can’t speak for the people of Bristol, but for myself, I am so very sorry that you were treated this way, A.

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