Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Sticks and stones and 'bedsocks' really hurt

Poor old (young) footballers suffering from the hollered jeers of fans, and every empathy to them, but as I was blogging the other day, you don’t have to be a sports hero, nor a different colour, to suffer this strange form of abuse.
Footie stars are constantly under attack from fans of ‘the other side’, but among more recent outbursts of bias came racist chants.
I was bemoaning the abuse flung my way after the family emigrated Down Under, me a neatly uniformed lad with a posh school accent.

Verbal attacks

My new classmates certainly did not approve, and let me know it.
Another round of unnerving verbal attacks happened a few years later, on Day 1 at my first high school.
But first let me thank Patricia Vytlacil from the Mid-West across the Pond. Patricia moved to the US quite along time ago from kiwiland.
She recalls newcomers arriving at her school in Wanganui, in the North Island, where it seems the attitude to kids from abroad could hardly have been more different.

An enchanted life

‘I suspect I lived an enchanted life in a small town in the North Island of NZ compared to your experience as an immigrant kid in the South Island.
‘At our high school, we occasionally had students visit from the UK or even the USA and they were greeted with quite some excitement. How we envied their exotic accents!!
‘Perhaps it was just me super-conscious of our kiwi accent that seemed somehow inferior to one from overseas - anywhere overseas,’ writes Patricia.

Pretty impressed

 ‘But I like to think the rest of our class was pretty impressed by the foreigners also! It was not just their accents but the fact that they had experienced a life clearly different from ours.’
My own attacks fell away almost as soon as I learned to exchange my accent for the local version of English. However, a few years later when I moved into high school in a country town, a fresh and new outburst of mocking began almost immediately. Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at


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