Because when the mayor, local theatre and hundreds of residents organised the collections, and arranged meetings to welcome the refugees, you could at first sight see this as motivated slightly by kindness. But these newspapers weren’t fooled, and understand it’s tradition in North Devon to express your anger by buying a room full of clothes and arranging them in a hall.
Whatever you do when you’re in South Molton, don’t shout at a tractor driver to move out of your way, or they’ll lose their temper and collect six hundred pounds worth of jumpers and line them up in their kitchen, insisting you take the lot. Because a lifetime of working on the land makes them vicious.
Five national newspapers told the story of this rage against the refugees, all quoting one man who said: “We’re receiving 50 to 70 refugees, and 50 to 70 is a huge number in an area with restricted public transport.”
There’s no doubt 50 to 70 would create a problem for local public transport, if all 50 to 70 of them were housed on one bus.
The 7.15am from St Mary’s Church to Barnstaple would be a dreadful crush, so it’s no wonder this man was annoyed, and you can see why the newspapers regard him as the spokesman for the entire region, rather than the hundreds of people who provided all the clothes, who represent no one but themselves.
But it gets worse, because every newspaper covering the story told how refugee children “annoyed locals” by “relaxing playing basketball on a basketball court”. That’s just taking the piss, isn’t it? How dare children play sports in an area specially designated for that specific sport?
They should reward our hospitality by playing sports in the wrong areas, such as basketball on a chess board, or skiing on a snooker table.
The press kindly illustrated their complaint by showing a series of photographs of the refugee children, playing basketball, taken with a long-range lens from the bushes. This was a brave assignment, because children playing basketball on a basketball court can be fearsome if they know they’re being watched. Such courage certainly puts these wimps who take close-ups of crocodiles in their place.
The story went on to tell us the refugees have been placed in North Devon “as police fired tear gas into crowds of migrants in Calais.” This shows the risk to North Devon, because the fact that other refugees were being tear-gassed in another country proves refugees all get tear-gassed, as it’s their hobby.
They’ll probably steal a pig and ride it into Barnstaple police station in the hope they get tear gassed, though at least they’ll insist on being tear-gassed in a proper tear-gassing area, and not wander off to get tear-gassed on a cricket pitch.
Then the man who was worried about the impact on transport was quoted as saying: “There’s already a shortage of doctors round here.”
Eventually we’ll see sense and cure the shortage of doctors in our Health Service by getting rid of immigrants. Then the staff in a care home will be able to say to their residents: “Mrs Watkins, MRS WATKINS DEAR, it’s about your cataract operation, your cataracts dear, it’s your operation tomorrow, do you remember? The only thing is, it can’t be done by Doctor Patel as he’s had to go home as there were too many immigrants. So it’s still going ahead dear, but it’s being done by Nathan, he’s got a BTEC in nail care.”
The heartening side is there’s an official tradition in Britain of the press and government being overwhelmingly welcoming to refugees, on the condition they came here at least 50 years ago. We’re all proud of how we accepted Jews from Germany, though at the time the newspapers complained about 50 to 70 Jewish children invading Suffolk and playing tennis on a tennis court.
The problem for people who wish to complain about refugees, is many people may be uneasy about them when they’re part of a large group, but most people make things feel less hostile when they see an actual real-life one. Then even many Ukip voters are more likely to take a coat down to the collection centre.
So it’s understandable if this annoys newspapers who campaign against immigration. All their hard work in stirring up animosity is undermined by a group of Syrian children arriving in North Devon, and spoiling everything by making people feel humane and generous.
So this Christmas, instead of simply over-eating and drinking, try and do some good for the community. If you know of an elderly foreign neighbour on her own, surviving on her pension, put her windows in for sponging off the taxpayer, the parasitic cow. If you’re lucky you’ll be quoted in the newspaper.