Not my cuppa

The Yorkshire Tea company has the best adverts, without a doubt, always funny and irreverent. But their tea? No, not for me. I’m an Assam man.

Or so I just remembered, after buying a big box of Yorkshire muck because nothing else was available. I thought tea would all be much of a muchness, and since my parents drink Yorkshire I was sure I couldn’t go far wrong. Aye, but that was an assumption too far.

I realise Yorkshire Tea is not my cup of tea after all. For my international readers, some clarity: Yorkshire Tea is not grown in the sunlit uplands of the Yorkshire Dales, but is a blend of teas grown in Kenya and India. There’s probably some Assam in there, but not enough to enable me to make a proper brew without composing a long winded blog post to complain.

It’s probably gone cold by now. Damn you, Yorkshire Tea. Sixty-six tea bags to go.

Old man

The old man insists on paying me for helping him with his website. I decline. No payment necessary. He gave me an opportunity to do a good deed. That’s enough. But he insists. So I insist back. I’m not going to take a penny from the old man. Not every deed has to be a transaction. We’re not called to monetise everything. Let some humanity remain. Embrace the gift of an invitation to act.

Over-qualified

Can you be “over-qualified” for a job? My colleagues seem to think so. I have encountered this a few times in my workplace. One, an extremely well-qualified project manager with oodles of experience, repeatedly turned down for roles, despite patently out-performing other candidates at interview.

We could only conclude that the recruiting manager felt threatened by her, no doubt with an eye on the long-term, worried about being replaced by her recruit, her culture of mediocrity exposed. No, no, she was just “not the right fit” for the organisation.

More recently, colleagues itching to get rid of the over-qualified temps from the team. I pointed out that this sounded rather discriminatory. “Surely it’s a good thing that they’re going above and beyond?” Not in this role. “Really?” Don’t get me wrong, it’s great customer service, but it’s bad for our stats; we just need to get the call volume down.

I was just about to say that there are many reasons someone with greater qualifications might work well below their grade, but unfortunately all of my colleagues jumped in, cutting me off, turning it into a moment of jovial buffoonery. So the temps will soon be gone — no first-time-fix here — replaced by perms compliant enough to just answer the phone without resolving the problem there and then.

Had I been able to finish my sentence, I might have gone on to say that years back, the only way for me to get my foot in the door was for me to apply for roles way below my level of qualifications. Indeed, about a year into one of those roles, while tidying up the office, I came across my own job application, used at interview. In the top-right corner, my manager had scrawled: “Over-qualified?”

Perhaps I was, and perhaps they should have told me, because it was one of the most dreary jobs I’ve known, with all the interesting parts removed on my very first day in post. But I had to take it anyway, because there were no other options for me.

And so we come to the present. On paper, I too would probably be considered over-qualified for my present role, if anyone cared to review my certificates. Certainly, I have the highest university qualifications of anyone in my team. But the reality is that what’s on paper isn’t that important if you can barely string a sentence together.

Interestingly, in the past five years, I watched many an under-qualified individual come into the organisation. Some of them I trained in aspects of their role, providing support whenever they needed it. From the sidelines, I watched their ascent through the ranks. One of them transitioned into to a director-level role: a stepping stone into a comparable role elsewhere.

Qualifications, we come to realise, are mostly irrelevant in the end. It’s all about confidence and personality. If you have these two, you’ll go far. If not, then you’ll forever occupy that unenviable status of the over-qualified, plodding away, going above and beyond, revelling in mediocrity.

Commute

On those rare occasions I am required to go to the office, the commute reminds me to be grateful for what I have. A visit to the office and back is a seventy-mile round trip.

On a good day, the journey to work takes just over an hour, the heaviest traffic avoided by taking the scenic route. But this morning, the journey there took me two hours, progress stifled by temporary traffic lights for non-existent roadworks.

In our team meeting, I had to confess that while I do often ask myself why I lack the ambition to pursue more prestigious roles, this morning, while stuck in that crawling traffic, I did think to myself, “No, actually, I’m fine.”

I can’t really complain about my normal thirty-second commute to work, taking my place in an office with these views, enjoying the peace for concentration, spread out at a spacious workstation. “Be content, O soul!” I remind myself.

Years

Life runs by, quicker than a blink of the eye. As the years pass, those sentiments once heard chime ever truer: that when raised alive on that awesome day, we will complain that we tarried on the earth for just an afternoon, or a few hours at most. Perhaps the midlife crisis is a dress rehearsal for that moment.

Unseen

We talk about someone, and at that very moment they call. We think of someone, and all of a sudden they appear. Over and over, we experience this in our lives, and yet still we conclude that there is nothing special about life at all. Just chemical reactions, or something.

Back-to-front

When I was young. I could never understand why kindness was greeted with contempt. Nor could I understand why being nice would so often result in violence, actual or threatened. It seemed so strange that the world was set up to favour the strong, brazen and self-assured.

As for those who go out of their way to help others? It seems that society looks down on them, writing them off as weak-minded folk, to be perpetually mocked and derided. To me, everything is back-to-front, with bold bad behaviour everywhere rewarded.

It all just seems so inimical to the way things should be, wherein the strong take care of the weak, as prescribed by our traditions of faith.

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but true righteousness is one who believes in God… and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask for help, and for freeing slaves…

From Quran 2:177

Who is there who will actually run to the aid of those now despised by society, against whom our most popular newspapers daily rally with a loud denunciation? Who now will stand with the weak and vulnerable, who don’t stand a chance? Who will stand up against the rising clamour which seeks once more to diminish the poorest, in favour of the rich and powerful?

Hidden identities

There are two aspects of my being which I tend to hide from the outside world for very similar reasons: my faith and the name of the condition I have been bestowed with. In both cases, because they are poorly understood and so badly misrepresented, that misunderstandings and prejudices are commonplace.

More to the point, because very vocal activists — in both spheres — are intent on pushing their own very skewed and polarised representations of the phenomenon. The internet is awash with misinformation, presented as authoritative guidance, where in fact reliable information is actually very hard to come by. You have to really struggle to sift the wheat from the chaff.

I would never invite anyone to google the name of my chromosome disorder, as I was advised to by the locum doctor who delivered the diagnosis two decades ago, admitting that he didn’t know anything about it at all. In one sense, I was blessed that the internet was in its infancy then, meaning that there wasn’t very much useful information at all.

Today, it is a different story. On the one hand, it is much easier to access clinical studies and reliable medical explanations of the condition. On the other hand, there is now a proliferation of misleading journalism and activist content, pushing other agendas altogether.

But the religious realm is not much different. The same, but magnified a billion times. At least with my chromosome disorder, it is so rare that few will ever hear of it, unless they happen know someone with a diagnosis. But in the case of the faith, apparently so central to modern geopolitics, it is everywhere discussed. Even the total ignoramus has an opinion.

So it is that I keep my head down, never speaking of either, except here in my blog, which is my safe space to surface what is so important to my life. My chromosome disorder is spoken of in generic terms, as I delineate its impact on my life. My faith is discussed more openly here, but only here.

I am not particularly content that I feel the need to hide my identities. But such is the nature of misinformation: it poisons everything.

Bodies

I wonder. Do others ever look back on the past to question longheld assumptions, as I do? Do they ever ponder past interactions, wondering if they did the right thing? Do they ever wonder what happened to those whose paths they crossed? Do others wonder what became of those they once shared days and weeks and months with, long, long ago? Or are we just travellers, clambering over one another to get ahead? Are all we encountered immaterial? Just bodies, slipping out of view? I wonder.

Petty

Schools and their petty rules. Punish bad behaviour, sure. Create a safe environment in which learning can take place unimpeded: we support you in this completely.

But enforcing expectations which are not even behaviour issues with strong sanctions, disproportionate to the offence? Why? What’s the point of that, except to diminish the self-esteem of youngsters trying their best?

What I want from the school management team is a focus on providing a quality education to our children: to focus on trying to recruit permanent staff, reduce the reliance on supply teachers, to help students reach their full potential.

Instead, week after week, a focus on the peripheral trifling minutiae, of no real importance or value. Parenting is hard enough as it is, without these impositions.

These constraints

Daily, I have conversations with our children about the importance of studying hard to lay firm foundations for the future. Not for the sake of status and pride, but in pursuit of ease and comfort in years to come. These reflections borne of my own malaise, feeling constrained and constricted by my circumstances.

By now, my eldest brother has been practising law for over 25 years, well respected in his field, senior partner at a top tier planning practice. My middle brother is a diplomat, 25 years into his career at the Foreign Office. My PhD doctor younger sister works in academia. My father, meanwhile, practiced law until his fifties, rising to managing partner, before training to be a priest in the latter years of his career. High-fliers, all of them.

By contrast, my career has been a bloody mess. I obtained a higher degree, but could not secure a commensurable job on graduation. Indeed, in those early days, I couldn’t even secure a job normally filled by those without any qualifications at all. If I did get to interview, I couldn’t convincingly sell myself. Over the past fifteen years, I have found some stability, rising through the grades with the support of a kind manager, now long gone.

When I started in this role, my line-manager was one who had left school at sixteen with only the minimum of qualifications, working their way up the ladder through hard work and determination. I was pivoting into a developer role from a series of dreary admin jobs, facilitated by a previous manager desperate to get rid of me during one of the many mergers and reorganisations I have experienced in my career.

Over the past decade and a half, I have developed skills and expertise, but still don’t consider myself a real professional. In fact, I consider myself a fraud. In my time in post, I have seen so many people come and go, moving on to ever greater opportunities, developing their careers. But as for me? Those opportunities intimidate me. I don’t have that self-belief that would enable me to move on up. So here we remain, with these constraints.

I worry now about affording university for our children. I don’t have the means to help them buy houses of their own in the future, as seems to be the ambition of so many friends, living as we do in one of the most expensive parts of the country. And those extravagant weddings everyone speaks of? I kind of hope they will choose to have a shoe-string wedding, like I did. In my mid-forties, my failings decades ago have hit me hard.

So to the daily conversations with the kids in the car on the way to school. “Work hard,” I tell them, as we drive past houses I like, but would never be able to afford. “We only want what’s best for you,” I say, as they begin to grumble. “I didn’t understand these realities when I was young,” I tell our son, who would rather like to just be a builder.

Our daughter seems to get it. Our son, less so. He’s annoyed because I insisted on him taking computing, which he hates. I did too, but I regret not taking it. I found it boring, sharing one computer between three of us, peering over another student’s shoulder as they tapped Basic commands into a terminal. But if I had known back then how computing would come to define our world, perhaps everything would have been different.

Instead of studying International Development, with visions of helping the poor, I might have studied Software Development, and then everything would have been different. “Whatever field you work in,” I tell our lad, “you will need those skills. Engineering. Science. Accountancy. Enterprise. It’s a good foundation.” But he just groans at me, as I suppose I must have done in my youth, dreaming of my homestead farm set on spring-fed lands.

For sure, I’m in a better situation than many. Perhaps it’s just the company I keep: too many high-fliers accumulating vast wealth, still worrying despite multiple properties bringing in rent. I guess that saying is true: that if man was given a valley of gold, he would still want another one. Perhaps I should spend more time amongst the down-and-outs, and then be more grateful for our blessings. Still, the kids don’t need to hear those reflections. For them, that daily advice will remain: “Study hard, and lay firm foundations.”

Obscure learning

At university, I studied for a degree that has been of no benefit to me professionally. That’s not to say it couldn’t have benefited me professionally: by now, most of my contemporaries are in director-level roles in the international development space.

But even if my degree did not benefit me professionally, it has been a useful bedrock for my life. I don’t at all regret taking apparently obscure modules like environment and development in South Asia; refugees, returnees and development aid; or border disputes in the Middle East.

For contributing to my understanding of the world through these turbulent times, I very much appreciate studying the development of Iran’s oil industry in detail. In helping me to understand population movements, I’m glad I studied India’s Green Revolution.

Had I had the confidence and motivation, and not been dealing with the heavy maladies of an as-yet undiagnosed condition, I might have built a career on that foundation of learning, rising through the ranks of the Foreign Office or United Nations. Alas, that was not to be.

But no matter. In life, those studies have provided firm foundations of another kind. To have a more nuanced understanding of the world, unswayed by domestic propaganda. To see the story behind the story. To probe deeply, and delve beneath the surface.

Thank God for those opportunities to learn of what was most obscure.

Unfamiliar

In respect to the unfamiliar, people tend to be moved by preconceived notions and prejudices alone. People tend not to engage with what is real, but with what they think to be so, projecting their own perceptions onto the subject. Long-held views, deeply ingrained, are not easily challenged by facts: it must be the facts that are faulty, not the understanding.

We have all encountered this through our lives. We have probably all been guilty of it too. I have certainly had my own understanding of events, which could only be shaken when presented with information that cast doubt on everything I thought to be so. So too have I been forced to reinterpret past interactions in light of my increased understanding of my self, and the impact of factors of character and form I wasn’t even cognisant of at the time.

And so too for others. When I was introduced to my beloved two decades ago, my parents and siblings held that I was having my marriage arranged for me. It was a forgone conclusion, they believed, witnessing our rapid decision to marry, so soon after meeting. It’s true that our union was unusual by modern western standards, but arranged for us? Nope, merely facilitated by mutual friends who thought to bring two souls together.

Through the years, I have experienced so many assumptions based on mistaken understandings of the tradition I follow. I can’t necessarily say I blame others. At school, I only learnt of one religious tradition, that being Anglican Christianity. The only reason I initially learnt anything of other traditions was because I was trying to make sense of events that effected me personally. But most people, I suspect, don’t have that drive and will gladly go through life oblivious to the world beyond their front door.

If you’re going to learn anything of the way of life of the other, you have to have a personal reason for doing so. Perhaps that’s a passion that comes from within. Perhaps it’s a desire to understand one’s neighbours. Perhaps it’s a yearning to turn your life around. Perhaps a need to understand the past. Whatever the impetus, these are all good first steps. It’s good to acquaint yourself with the unfamiliar. Believe me: I know.

Wrong move

I don’t know why I opened Right Move this evening. Curiosity more than anything. I regret it now, because property prices around here are just… ridiculous… impossible… eye-watering!

Alhamdulilah that we have a roof over our heads. How the next generation will manage, though? Would we be able to assist our children to purchase their first home? Only in so much as they can stay here as long as they need to.

The cost of living is a worry. University fees weigh on my mind. We’re not set up for this new world order. My own failings decades ago come back to haunt me daily. My experience a salutary lesson for the kids on the importance of laying firm foundations.

Here and there

This week, five years ago, I was setting off for England, leaving my family behind again. We had a send-off breakfast down in the town, the Black Sea and Caucasus mountains behind us. It was one of those emotional meals, everyone subdued.

Soon afterwards, I’d catch the service bus for the tiresome three-hour journey to Trabzon airport, to begin the long journey home. As I made my way aboard, my beloved’s face crumpled, tears flooding her eyes. I’d spend fifty days alone in England then, before my return, flying late on Christmas eve.

View from the window of my coach en route to Trabzon.

I don’t know why we lived like that for that year and a half, subjecting one another to such strains. It’s true that while we were together, we were living the high life. We appreciated the space of our nice large apartment, furnished to our tastes.

The children loved their freedom, walking to school alone, and returning home for lunch. They still remember those days fondly, wishing they could return, always complaining about the dull grey skies over here. But of course, that way of life had to be paid for. That was my role.

So it was that I took up the lifestyle of the migrant worker, coming and going, sending money back to my family. From a technical perspective, I could do my job from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately we are impeded not by technical constraints, but by legal realities, here and there.

In the end, due to health and educational reasons, we had to bring that adventure to an end, exchanging the high life for a return to our humble abode, for the sake of our family and togetherness. I suppose we were fortunate that we could make that choice; a choice not available to most who migrate for the sake of opportunities worldwide.

I don’t begrudge anyone who travels far from home in pursuit of a better life. But sometimes it’s best to follow your heart.

Stepping stones

Is our workplace a stepping stone? It seems like it. People come in for a few months, tend to break everything, then move on to their next great thing, landing senior roles elsewhere. I don’t get it really.

I’ve worked with some real incompetents over recent years, witnessing their unprofessional communications, sloppy grammar and technical illiteracy up close, only to see them disappearing off after a few months to become “Head of” somewhere else.

I suppose behind every great manager there is a nerd who does the work, and never makes a fuss when others take the credit. I guess they have that bold tenacity, whereas I just recollect the journey before this. It took me so long to jump onto this stone and steady myself that I’m afraid to step off onto the next one, lest I fall.

You’re not coming in

These the words that would ring in my ears throughout my youth. At school, the boys on prefect duty, forever blocking my way. At university, the bouncer outside a bar or club. Amongst peers, the young man intent on belittling me, and isolating me completely.

In those days, it would leave me distraught. I was so bitter, raging against the world. For the whole of my youth, I felt that I was being excluded from everything, forever the misfit, rejected. In selecting teams for a game of football, I would always be picked last. Amidst a crowd, I would be the one on the far periphery, completely ignored.

I suppose it’s no surprise that in the end I went my own way. Perhaps all of those experiences were a blessing in disguise, enabling me to hold to a path far away from the clamour of the thronging crowds. Perhaps it was just training for my soul, enabling me to take up the lonely road. Perhaps I was being to taught how to swim against the tide.

That bitterness of youth has left me now. Today I am capable of seeing that there was goodness in all I experienced back then. It was a probably a good thing that I wasn’t allowed in, after all.

Permacrisis

It feels like we’re deliberately being held in a permanent state of agitation, as if to cause us utter despair. Somehow we need to find a way to counteract this morass with hopefulness. Perhaps we can seek that contentment the people of old had, despite real hardship and afflictions.

O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, God is with the patient.

Quran 2:153

“And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord except for those astray?”

From Quran 15:56

Forever wars

15 February 2003. We’re on the District Line from Ealing Broadway. My wife is carrying a placard with a Quranic verse blocked out in black ink.

When it is said to them: “Make not mischief on the earth,” they say: “Why, we only want to make peace!” But indeed, they are the mischief-makers, but they perceive not.

Quran 2:11-2
Continue reading “Forever wars”

Do some good

Well, that’s my good deed for the day. My evening spent doing my community service to an elderly gentleman convinced his websites had been hacked. They hadn’t been. On the first site, he’d just got himself into a pickle running multiple security plugins which decided he was a brute-force attacker, locking out his IP address. The second one caused by an ancient website theme stuffed with deprecated code.

Continue reading “Do some good”

Resistance

When I was young, I usually knew when something bad was about to happen. This wasn’t prophetic presidence, though, merely the fruit of experience. Some, I suppose, might call these events self-fulfilling prophecies.

One such example occurred in my final year of secondary school, as I headed for an entrance. We had two doors to choose from on that side of the school. One at the front, one at the side. The side door was closer to my ultimate destination, but I would always take the longer route.

That lunchtime, however, a friend caught up with me and insisted on us taking the short route. In my heart, I knew that was the wrong thing to do, but unheard in my opposition, I followed on. Sure enough, when we arrived, the waiting prefects would let my friend through, but not me.

Just then, like everyday, I was to be reminded that I was nothing, forever harassed for no apparent reason. A more benevolent prefect, knowing full well that I had every right to enter the building, intervened eventually to let me pass. At which point I swore at the first of them on my way through.

A second after that, I was sliding up the wall, his palm jammed against my throat, my feet off the floor, as he yelled at me about having respect. Yeah, I was wrong to call him a rude name. The first time I had ever been assertive, as it happened, usually timidly submissive in the face of harassment.

My friend, embarrassed, just wandered off. My assailant was one of his older brother’s close friends, so I suppose couldn’t intervene anyway. In any case, he probably thought I deserved it. I should’ve just let it pass, as usual. I’d eventually arrive at our classroom a few minutes after him, with thumbprints on my neck. We never spoke about that moment, but somehow I had been anticipating it.

In life, I have had a habit of taking long circuitous routes to avoid the conflict or intimidation that always seemed to await me. A habit which even remains to this day. Some would call this cowardice; I’d just call it avoiding trouble, knowing full well that I wouldn’t stand a chance.

But sometimes you have no choice. Once as a young adult I was confronted by youths with a knife on my return home one evening. I just had to push past them then, praying for the best. On another occasion, I was steamrollered into a wall by a crowd of bold youngsters, who knocked me to the ground to kick me in pursuit of my mobile phone and wallet. The excitement must have given them an adrenalin high. But for me: no, just more of the same.

Some, I guess, enjoy the thrill of dominating another. For others, it’s just a means of making themselves feel better about themselves, especially if they themselves have previously found themselves that lowly nobody, despised by society. Sometimes the bullied themselves become the worst bullies, convinced that their ascendancy depends on them trampling on others.

It seems that it demands a concerted effort not to become bullies ourselves. Maybe if I had been able to develop significant bodily strength or some kind of influence, I might have become one too, using my status to intimidate others. Fortunately, that wasn’t what I was called to.

I walk a path which say says remain humble, no matter how wealthy or influential you become. It says walk on the earth with humility. It tells us to respond, when the ignorant address us, “Peace!” In our tradition, the oppressed are not called to become tyrants. Certainly, the tyrannised are allowed to resist, but are also commanded not to transgress the limits.

Actually, the meek have a special kind of resistance, which the powerful will never understand.

Deficits

Mrs Green, my second-year Physics teacher, once declared, “There’s no such thing as dyslexia; it’s just an excuse rich parents make for their lazy kids.”

I think she spoke for most teachers there, frustrated that the school had allowed entrance to idiots like me, so clearly unsuited to such an esteemed seat of learning.

She may have been right, or wrong. What I do know is that the second part of this unqualified diagnosis came to define my entire youth and experience of education.

For me, dyslexia was never on the cards. It never came up. My Maths teacher once suggested dyspraxia, but that was midway through his standup comedy routine, deriding me in front of the class for a catastrophic piece of homework.

But the latter diagnosis — lazy kid with rich parents — was repeated so often by every adult I engaged with throughout my youth that I accepted it to be certain truth.

Even when I was diagnosed with a condition that might have made sense of those learning experiences, I chose at the time not to make those associations.

Plenty of research since then has determined that the presence of that extra chromosome, or the consequential hormone deficiencies, has a substantial impact on academic achievement for reading and writing in school-aged boys.

Parents of boys diagnosed prenatally or in infancy are nowadays recommended a range of targeted interventions to overcome known developmental delays, whether the acquisition of langage or subsequent educational challenges.

Such interventions were not available to me, but fortunately I had the rich parents unwilling to make excuses for their youngest son. Perhaps their high expectations were the next best thing, counteracting the worst of those deficits.

Pst

The powerful tend to claim to be champions of free speech. In practical terms, though, they are only interested in protecting vested interests. It is very easy for the powerful to defend absolute freedom when it comes to insulting or lying about disenfranchised groups. But the other way around? We witness daily that when the disenfranchised take on the powerful, their freedom of expression is rapidly denounced. Soon enough, the multi-billionaire’s free speech utopia will be exposed for what it really is.

Daily

Daily we are reminded that we are governed by the worst of people, who have no principles, ethics or manners. Daily we learn that those who wield power are mostly liars, hypocrites and bullies. Daily we are forced to ask ourselves: “Why do we let them get away with this?” Daily we wonder: “Is this truly the government we deserve?”

Paths converge

We’re visiting friends today. Both my wife and her friend originate from the same region of eastern Turkey. They both married an English Muslim. Both of our families adopted. We both bought modest homes so as not to be saddled with a huge mortgage. We both invested in a place over there, while we could afford it. Seems we’re all aspiring to the same things, dreaming of life when the children finish their education, yearning for a different kind of existence. Interesting how paths converge.

This nation

Our nation — like most nations — was built on migration. But many descendants of migrants forget that fact after a few generations, especially if they share the basic characteristics of the native population.

Were her skin a different hue, my mother would be classed as a second-generation immigrant, through her own mother, who emigrated from southern Ireland in her youth to work as a nurse in a London hospital.

Had neither my grandmother or mother married an Englishman, then I suppose I too would be considered a third-generation immigrant, and on demographic questionnaires would have to specify, “White Irish.”

What of the children of my mother’s sister, who married an Indian man? What do they become? Whereas I can confidently declare myself British, to some, the identity of the next generation of children will always be in doubt. My extended family is filled with complex identities, our various states of belonging predicated mostly on skin colour alone.

I personally don’t understand the current political discourse concerning migration, because across whole swathes of the economy we are in fact facing an acute labour shortage. My own employer has a dedicated team specialising in overseas recruitment, seeking to headhunt healthcare professionals and scientists from abroad, to make up for shortfalls in the indigenous skills pool.

I don’t know why our politicians don’t just stand up and tell the truth: that the nation is reliant on migrant labour, and always has been. Don’t like that? Oh well, get used to longer and longer waiting times for hospital appointments then.

If it is said, “We must increase wages to attract indigenous labour,” then do so, but make it sharpish, because at present we’re just playing cutting off our noses to spite our own faces. We’re both saying, “No more immigration” and, when contemplating unfilled jobs we might do instead, muttering, “No thank you!”

Migration has been a part of the human story for as long as we have roamed the earth, and research into the genome makes that clear. Genetic research reveals that we all trace our roots back to elsewhere, for as a species we have long been nomadic. A natural response to environmental and social factors.

But, alas, in this age of focus groups telling us that people want to see more Union Jacks, I suppose it would be a brave politician who would utter such truths. So it is that we must baton down the hatches instead, and pray for the best.