Does he take sugar?  

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

In an attempt to comply with the new draconian immigration laws in this country, the missus has been packed off to English lessons. For those not up to speed with the latest initiative from this brain-dead government, from April this year only those individuals able to pass the impossible Life in the UK test (i.e. not many) or those who can demonstrate their commitment to this country by passing a 12 month English course are permitted to stay in the country indefinitely. As if getting married, and coughing up the £750 price tag (on top of the £1,500 we have already paid) wasn't enough of a demonstration. Not to mention the should-be-free-but-actually-costs-£200 English course itself. That is, unless you are an asylum seeker or one of our Eastern European cousins, in which case - of course - everything is totally free.

On returning home from her first lesson, I had a look at the slim package of loose-leaf course materials my £200 had purchased. What caught my eye was the list of instructions on the front of the pack of pages. Reading through them, I can't think when I have read a more patronising list of instructions. First, I was helpfully informed that the pack contained several pages of paper and that I should be very careful because said pages were not connected together in any way and were thus prone to getting rather muddled. Oh calamity! But luckily, I was subsequently informed that in the UK we have a thing called a "file" which is designed for just such an eventuality. Using this "file", I would be able to restrain my wayward pages and organise them into a handy logical sequence. Marvellous. There then followed detailed instructions on how to put the whole shooting match together, in case he intellectual challenge of threading several pages into a folder proved too much.

After reading through this, I was left with a number of thoughts: Firstly, since when did ignorance of language equate to ignorance per se? Just because someone is learning English does not mean they are stupid, and to patronise someone in this way is nothing less than snide racism. Secondly, why do the powers that be think they have the right to patronise anyone in this way. Lastly, what has gone wrong in this country that allows such despicable laws to be enacted, cloaking this unpleasant mix of patronising racism in the guise of respectability.

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