The Railway Children

The Railway Children

Hi there

Thanks for popping in. Had a funny turn this morning, so did absolutely nothing all day, except watch the new film, The Railway Children in the afternoon. Oh such decadence! Watching TV during the daytime!! Linda Williams had told me I would enjoy it – and she was right.

It did conjure up some memories mind. Spoiler alert here: there is an underlying theme of racism within the US army based in the UK, of US Military Police treating black soldiers abismally. It took me back to when I lived in Germany in the 80’s and met Grace’s and Mark’s father, who was a Lawyer with the JAG Corp in the US army. Actually, he was/is mixed race, but certainly the darker gene prevailed, and he had beautiful dark skin. I remember the very numerous racist situations we got into as a mixed race couple, the abuse and the names we were called. All of which I understood perfectly of course, being of German descent and speaking German. We had trouble finding a place to rent together because of his colour. We were turned away from restaurants in the city centre of Nürnberg. When the wall came down in 1989, the Iron Curtain, racism actually got a lot worse. I ran a language school, and pretty much all the teachers were ex-pats. Trouble started with the Irish teachers, out on the town having fun. Got set upon by a German mob because they were talking English. Teachers got spat at for speaking English. Even my Mum got hit over the back in a coffee shop in Die Breite Gasse (a popular shopping street in Nürnberg) by some old Bavarian git who told us to go back where we came from, because she and I were speaking to a couple of the Canadian staff we had bumped into – in English of course. I can report that I went after him like a screaming banshee, and chased him until he could hardly breathe for running. Then, when he was sufficiently worn out, I gave him “a piece of my mind” to remember. In fact, it was the bigotry and racism that made us leave southern Germany and move to California. No place to raise a little brown angel called Grace.

I am certainly not making sweeping statements here. The vast majority of Germans are not racists, nor are they bigots. I found them to be mostly kind, fair-minded and peace-loving. But there is always that uneducated echelon of society that needs to feel superior to somebody.

Not that it went away in California – it was just covert. It was there, always, but not as open. I guess laws had been put in place to control it, so the racism just went underground. I’m telling you. Met a member of the Clan at a neighbour’s house by chance, when we lived in oh so delightful Carmel, who threatened to burn a cross in our front garden! I could write a bloody book. I suppose that is why the racism that my young Trinidadian friend is experiencing in the hospital and here in the South East NOW NOW – not 30 years ago – NOW – just brought out the warrior in me again.

Quote for the day

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing

Edmund Burke

If we don’t highlight what we see, if we don’t speak out against it, if we don’t stand up and shout THIS IS WRONG, then we are complicit. That is what I believe.

This blog post may be a bit strong, because you think of me as a crafter I suppose. But. If you know me but a little, you will know that there is much more to me than that. Just as there is much more to you than that.

I remember 30 years ago, sitting on a beach in Hawaii with Rob, the father. I asked him, “You’re half black and half white. Who do you feel more of an affinity with?” And his reponse? “Neither. Both are equally despicable.” I have never forgotten that. He’s a Judge now. A very fair one I’m told.

Love always

Barb x x x

42 thoughts on “The Railway Children

  1. hi Barb. I was wondering if you were having a bit of a set back day in terms of recovery. Been there, done that myself in terms of hospitalised illness!
    Just so happens I have been reading Jilly Cooper novels as my brain has gone on strike and I can’t concentrate on anything a bit more complicated. Shock horror though, she was writing in the mid 1960s and later. These were some of her earliest books and she used “n” words (hate saying even that) in her description of bar and restaurant staff in Mediterranean holiday resorts. ARGH.!! Planning to do some Pergamano crafting tomorrow instead of reading

  2. What a great post, thank you for sharing your story.
    Doing nothing, being silent just isn’t an option,
    If we all take responsibility then we can tip the scales of change.

  3. Today’s quote is my favourite quote ever and I so often say it. I gave an assembly on it once too. No matter what you have to call people out or else they will keep doing it. I can just see you having a complete rant at that guy you chased all that time ago – I would be right with you Barb!
    It’s why I still have a Ukrainian flag on my fence. I can’t do much to stop Putin but I can do my little bit to stand with the Ukrainian nation.
    Anyway, breathe and remain calm, you’re recuperating. Paul was great on TV today, well done team Clarity.
    Travel gently.
    Zara xx

  4. Good post and very apt quote for today – so true. Nothing wrong with doing nothing today, you probably over did it yesterday without even realising. Gently does it and listen to your body resting when you need to xxx

  5. Well done on bringing issues such as this to everyone’s notice. I unfortunately witnessed a friend being verbally abused because he is black. To me, it’s what inside the person that matters, not the colour of their skin.

  6. It is hard to believe that things haven’t really changed in some peoples reaction to people who appear to be a different race or from another country. Yet in reality many are as English as they are having been born & raised in this country. For those willing to leave their birth country & come & work here should be given a much better welcome & hopefully most do but we must shout up if we see this not happening.
    Have you watched the later film about the Railway Children when they have grown up ?
    I have been to see the latest Downton Film – The New Era this afternoon with 2 ladies I used to work with, it was good to catch up before hand with some lunch. Nothing wrong with a spot of daytime TV either & with the ability to watch programmes already shown there is so much choice on some quite interesting subjects.
    One Day at a Time !!

  7. I think I’ll have to avoid the Railway Children after that! I’m sure you will have the odd ‘turn’ your body telling you to ‘don’t run before you can walk’. Enjoy spoiling yourself for a while. X

  8. It’s amazing that when you’re in hospital and start to feel better you reckon you will be absolutely fine when you go home. It’s often not the case. The everyday little tasks that you think you can do safely can actually set you back. Don’t get disheartened you will get over this hump. You just have to remember that you need to take it slowly. If the housework doesn’t get done and anyone who visits doesn’t like; tough. I’m sure Dave and the family can live with a little untidiness until you are able. I will reiterate my earlier comment in a previous post; you need to be the tortoise not a hare. Do nothing for a good two weeks, it’s not in your nature but it will pay off and hopefully keep you out of hospital. My late Mum and our family have all experienced a lot of racial hatred as my beautiful little brother (he’s in his 50’s now) is a mixed race child and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. It has shaped us I cannot deny this. Lots of rest is prescribed for you Barb.

  9. loved your blog today, Barbara, take your time to recover.
    I grew up with a Maltese step-mother and lived in Germany from the age of 10 to 23! yep, forces brat lol. being a natural red head my brothers and I were always called names and picked on at school for having ‘ginger’ hair. I hated it. when I was out with my step-mum I always got stared at. As I got to teenage years it got worse, some really horrid comments from not only boys but girls too.
    now, at 63, the tables have turned lol. I still am a natural red head with only the whispering of any grey 😀
    it’s not just the colour of your skin, racism comes in many forms sadly.
    Perfect quote for today.
    Big hugs
    Heather xoxo

  10. Glad you are alright…was getting to wonder! then WOW…then there you were , firing on all cylinders!! Red Hot…I was pinned into my chair…expecting you to blow a fuse!! Remember…Cool and Calm. very Interesting blog….

  11. Hi Barb. We watched the new Railway Children the other day. Interesting.
    Racism is a very difficult topic to talk about. It takes on many forms. I’ve experienced it in mild doses. My first husband was part Spanish, ( great grandfather) but he had many features, dark skin, black hair, deep eyes, some of which my 3 children inherited and were often called names in school. (Spiks being one of them) All had jet black hair when born, 2 have dark eyes. Then at the age of 2 they went blonde until about 12. They all have dark hair now, and darker skin in the summer. Suffice to say they can all stand up for themselves- and are all beautiful.
    Carry on getting well, NO STRESS allowed!
    Loads of love. Sheila. X x

  12. What a great blog today. One of my daughters had a black friend come play one day with her younger brother. The neighbour was out ranting and actually dragged his little girl away shouting at her never to play with ni——s . I tried to ask him why he felt that way but all I got was swearing etc . Never spoke to me again! I just find it so hard to understand why! Thankfully the kids all took it in their stride. Please keep taking it easy Barbara don’t want you getting I’ll again. 🙏🙏🙏

    1. <3 Thanks for sharing the story, Isobel. It happens way more than a lot of people realise (or want to realise) Lotsa love xoxo

  13. Sorry to hear you had a turn. There will be ups and downs on the road to recovery.
    Why people can’t just live and let live is beyond me. Having been a radiographer and the lecturer I have witnessed all types of racism and sexism and never let it go.
    Take care and try to keep calm xx

  14. Hoorah for speaking the truth. I live in a very cosmopolitan city in Canada (Toronto). There are hundreds of languages spoken, many many cultures among people born here and those who have chosen Canada to be their home. I think it has enriched our country and I have learned so much by seeing our city change from a western European dominance to a wonderfully mixed population of families. I have friends who were born in other countries, from different religions and cultures and it’s made me have a better perspective on life. Having said that, sometimes we think we are less racist in Canada, but there is definitely individual and systemic racism still present – very sad but calling it out, connecting with people and building in systems and laws to protect people and raise the standard is a start. I remember the movie The Railway Children from when I was a kid but I will have to watch it again.

    Listen to your body – it will tell you when you have done too much. Rest is healing.

  15. There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing. It is good you are listening to your body. I’m sure it will aid your recovery. Maybe a few more days of doing nothing more taxing than cuddling a cat ( or two!) is what the doctor ordered. I couldn’t agree more with your saying for today. It is up to us all to take a stand against discrimination in any shape or form be it racism, sexism or any other ‘ism’. It is the only way to change things for the better. xx

  16. Thanks for this post Barbara.
    I’ve never heard you talk in such depth and emotion regarding your ex, Rob and the racism you’ve personally experienced. I’m really sad and infuriated to hear this.
    I could say such experiences make you stronger, perhaps they do to a point, but, it’s apparent your latest encounter in the hospital has brought back a lot of unhappy memories from your past and I’m sorry for that.
    We all know you have strong feelings around injustice and admire you for speaking up and showing compassion.
    I have never campaigned or done anything directly to make a difference but hope I would have the courage to speak out if I witnessed prejudice.
    Yes racism and prejudice does still exist. My sister-in-law is Kenyan and lives with her white husband in a coastal town in the south east. They are looking to move out of the area as soon as possible because of the racial prejudice she encounters on a regular basis. I love this country I was born and live in but this behaviour makes me despair. The only saving grace is that I believe it is still a minority of the population that acts in this deplorable manner.
    Tomorrow’s another day, Barbara and I hope you will feel better. I speak from experience when I say that coming out of hospital after a serious illness can affect your thoughts and ability to remain positive all of the time.

  17. Dear Barbara ,coming home from hospital is not easy and sometimes the high of being home can cover up the fact that you can still be weak as a kitten after being so very ill .Do con tinue to take care and travel very gently indeed .
    I remember being a young Irish Nurse starting a new job in Bermingham and the first greeting from my new colleagues was “well you know we don’t like the Irish “.I found it very upsetting and difficult to feel part of a team even though we all had the same aim of treating seriouly ill patients with dignity .I hope in my life I treat and respect everyone as an individual regardless of creed ,colour or orientation .
    warmest wishes to you x

  18. Sorry to hear you had a turn,trust you will have a better day tomorrow. There have always been bigots of every colour and creed and sex, we can only hope that the world will become a better place when people learn to stand up for what is right. Let’s hope it comes sooner rather than later

  19. Sorry you experienced such racism in Germany. I sympathise as I went out with a black doctor back in the late 70’s when it really wasn’t acceptable and did get some nasty looks and comments but nothing like you encountered. Eventually he married a white nurse who would make a much better consultant surgeon’s than me !!
    Take care.
    Love and hugs

  20. Hi Barbara
    Hope your funny do was not serious you have been through enough.
    Just take time to build your self up love .
    God Bless
    Love and Hugs
    Kath xxx 💕💕💕

  21. Deeply thought provoking blog today. Interesting to read some of your history.
    I once had to rebuke a staff member for doing a shoddy job. His response was “you only say this because I am black” so I replied “and I am half Russian and I don’t care if you are black, white, yellow or sky blue pink with orange spots I expect all staff to do a proper job”. Well, the look on his face was a joy to see. He apologised and never did a bad job again. He turned out to be one of the best workers.
    Sorry you had a bad turn today, I expect you pushed it too far going for that walk yesterday. Give it a few more days rest before doing it again and keep it short.
    Thoroughly agree with todays quote.
    Travel GENTLY.

  22. A lot of wise words today!

    I don’t know if it comes with getting older but I have come to realise that although most people are kind & considerate there are still many, too many unfortunately who are not and it’s hard to understand why.

    Sorry to hear you had a shaky start today. Recovery can be a bit up and down sometimes and I think the order of the days and weeks ahead is REST and LOTS OF IT.
    Lots of rest, films, books, puzzles and cuddling cats, and Dave if he’s available!

    Take care, one day at a time.
    Love, Linda x

  23. Thank you for your very heartfelt blog today. I was raised in London amongst many different nationalities. My Mum was a childminder and there were often 10 or more round the dinner table all sizes all colours. We were taught to live harmoniously together and help each other. Children are not born racist, it’s what they see in life and what they learn from parents actions and talk. Each and every human being bleed red blood.

    Take care Barbara, be kind to yourself xx

  24. Hi Barbara
    We watched the new Railway Children on Saturday throughly enjoyed it. One of my older brothers sadly no longer with us was married to a Jamaican girl. I remember him telling me how he was refused a drink in a pub in London because of her colour. On the other hand I remember being at his funeral and everyone was mixed together regardless of their colour which was heartening to see. Great quote.
    Love Ruth and Jackie xx

  25. Such a beautiful photo of Grace and Mark 🥰 and an excellent quote. Sorry to hear everything your family has been through, sadly I understand and empathise only… it breaks my heart that even after all these years it still exists… I pray wholeheartedly the day will come when we can all truly live as equals. 🙏🏼 Keep enjoying daytime TV , rest and recuperate as much as needed. Much love to all your family, especially you, Mum and Grace, from Nahid xXx 🦋💕

  26. Oh Barbara. You are such a warrior. I agree totally with everything you say about the injustice of bigotry and hatred directed towards anyone who appears different, who seems to threaten the “tribe” in any way. I was telling my friend about your nurse from Trinidad how angry you were and how I can’t get her out of my mind. Also I heard the other day about a lovely guy from Kerala who is here with his wife who is doing a postgraduate degree at the university. He needed to find work to help support them but had to give up his job in a local care home because of the abuse he was experiencing. Appalling! So I totally understand where you’re coming from. But I’m worried about you. It’s important that, for a good recovery, you rest not only your body but your mind and I know that’s hard for you. But please let someone else pick up the cudgels for a while. More movies in the daytime or getting lost in a good book is what you need. By the way, have you read ‘the girl with the louding voice’? I’d recommend it but I’m worried it might get you all stirred up again! Take care. Baby Steps are what’s needed right now.
    On a different note, I can’t stop thinking about your Mum. She must have been so worried about you as well as being in the early stages of grieving for your Dad. I hope she’s doing okay. Give her my love. xx

  27. I can’t wait to read your book when you have written it! Reading your Blog today you have such a way with words, really hang on your every description, you are a natural. You have experienced so much in your life and stronger for it. Thank you for yesterdays blog and hope you are feeling better this morning.

  28. Sorry to hear you had a turn but hope you’re feeling better again today.

    How horrible Rob and you had to experience such hostility in Germany and later also California. But it’s not just about skin colour. Some people are just so downright rude!
    Anyway, take care and feel better every day. Hugs and Lots of Love. Alles Liebe ❤

  29. Take care Barbara and take time to recover. After no physical activity in hospital it is a big shock getting back home when you have been so ill. Take it one day at a time and be kind to yourself and try to listen to your body.

    I really enjoy your blog , we all need to stand up for what is right and wrong ! I always judge people for who they are and not there colour ,race, religion or sexuality. It’s what’s on the inside that counts! X

  30. Hello Barb, sorry to hear you had a funny turn, please take it easy and look after yourself. This quote is spot on. I grew up in South Africa, and unfortunately it was taught to you in schools and in your home, and it was not until reaching adulthood when you know how wrong it all was. Unfortunately for that beautiful country, it has gone the opposite way now, and the country is slowly starting to crumble. I feel for my family that are still there. Take care and stay safe everyone. Bx

  31. Hi Barb, every word you’ve written is so powerful and so true. I personally never see the colour of a persons skin I only hear the person. We all bleed red blood, we all suffer pain and heartbreak. Just be kind. There used to be a TV series called Hill Street Blues with the phrase “take care out there” my mantra is “be kind out there”
    My quote
    “You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

  32. I agree wholeheartedly with this blog Barb. I always think we should be all the same colour ( I suppose at some point in the distant future we will be) but then the human race being what it is there will be something/someone who will think you’re different so therefore suitable for picking on. We just have to keep making sure we try and squash out the bigots and racists.

  33. Human kind developed different skin colours over thousands of years because we lived in different environments, it seems it may take as long for the differences to disappear and alas the bigotry that has developed around levels of melanin.

  34. I’ve been thinking of you today. I’ve had one of those tricky days where the body says no & the brain, which would usually make the body think again & do better, was frankly having a crash of its own! some days all we can do is rest. blimmin hilarious for those around us. Have asked hubby to “please pass the flowers” when I needed the phone, & that my head felt like it had “evaporated” when in fact it had swollen slightly & my glasses felt like they were digging in.
    I hope you’ve had an enjoyable day, and that you’re sleeping better now you’re in your own familiar surroundings.
    Hugs Alisonxx

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