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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Peter Butler

How dare they call me a bigot!

We live in The Close, a quiet, some would say genteel, neighborhood, a distance from the main road. It is oval shaped with a lawn in the centre which is beautifully maintained by a private gardener whom we employ, and who is also responsible for waste bins and overall standards.

new residents in the road
we feign indifference
curtains rustling

Some of us have dogs and we owners are meticulous about clearing up when necessary. Our houses, just eight, are mid-Victorian, once owned by the lower classes but, of course, gentrified and way above average price brackets, which means most of us are independent senior residents. White, of course.

blue sky thinking
tripping over
in the storm

Because of the shape of The Close you can see most of your neighbors’ gardens, or front doors, so we keep a careful eye out for strangers and intruders. We are a thoughtful, educated, self-contained community, although I note the latest residents comprise a brown person and his lady in a sari. I gather they are quite pleasant. I have not met them.

tree clearing
the hawk targets
a fresh perch


TIME passes and our neighborhood is in decline. My more vulnerable friends, at the behest of their children, are removed into care homes, some even die. Traditional English shops we have grown up with are taken over by foreigners who offer unfamiliar cuisine. I feel less comfortable in the house my ancestors have lived for generations.

nothing to be done
the wind leaves
a bitter taste

Some may consider me an angry, old-fashioned bigot, to which I respond I have principles. So I am further alarmed when next door is a foreign person whose lady is dressed in what I am told is a ‘kneecap’, which covers her head-to-toe in black, just her eyes visible. My letter of concern to the local press is rejected as ‘racist.’ My impressive war record is ignored.

one ring at the door
the postman tosses a parcel
into the flower bed

Now in my mid-nineties I refuse to leave the house, despite the urgings of my doctor, a white man with some kind of European accent. After years of my own company – writing my memoirs, feeding the budgerigar, and making the best of a now ill-maintained garden in the centre of The Close – I shall continue to voice my opinions until my time comes.

cage left open
the budgerigar
nowhere to go