So one of today’s major news stories was Cameron’s announcement that foreigners settling in the UK will have to demonstrate a sufficient grasp of the English language if they are to stay in Britain long-term. This grabbed my attention for a few of reasons.
Firstly, I was watching the lunch time news whilst sitting in one of those really crap faux-massage chairs they have in the Korean nail salons. You know, the ones staffed by a bunch of people who actually can’t speak English despite having BTECs or similar in stuff to do with nails. Usually their lack of fluency doesn’t bother me. Today, ironically, it did as I narrowly escaped a scalded thigh and stomach by asking fellow customers to help me get cold water because the staff didn’t have a clue what I was saying. Not ideal at 34 weeks pregnant but I’ll save the health and safety story for another time.
Secondly, as a child of immigrant parents I wholly believe that all communities should make an effort to speak the ‘local’ language with fluency. My mother was so proficient in the English language that she worked as an audio secretary and a PA when she was alive. My father was able to run an entire department of people when he worked as an accountant and now gives talks related to caring for people with dementia (again, a story for another time). Both their mothers took an active interest in learning to speak English and my paternal grandmother was often heard reading the Daily Telegraph out loud. There’s really no fucking excuse not to speak the language in the country in which you reside. Just as they learnt Swahili when they lived in East Africa, so they learnt English when they had to leave their home country for Britain.
The fact that the pig-sh*gging PM has chosen to conflate the issue of learning English with stopping extremism amongst Muslim communities is somewhat ridiculous but what more can we expect from ‘people like him’. Personally, I’m 100% in favour of the rules that will mean from October, people coming to our country on a five-year spousal visa will have to take a test after two and a half years to show they are making efforts to improve their English. And if they can’t? Well, there’s no guarantee they can stay. I mean, praise the Lord! No more Korean nail salons where the staff haven’t got a clue what you’re saying. No more Polish cleaners where you give up asking them not to use loo paper to clean the entire house because, despite the fact they’ve worked for you for over six years, their English is as poor as the day you met them (or is that just me?). And no more trying to get some sort of bling hair do in the salons of Southall, only to be mocked by some recent bride who used to work in a ‘saloon’ in Delhi because you can’t speak Hindi. I mean, really? Really? If only their English were good enough I’d point out it would probably be easier for them to learn the local language but, you know, but but ding ding, they’re only here for the ring.
Thirdly, Olly Murs. Not just poor, old, stupid Olly Murs (ok, rich, young, talented Olly Murs). But people like him. People who somehow manage to land prime time TV presenting gigs despite their failure to grasp the basics of the spoken language. For example, “was you nervous?”, “what did you think of them comments?” and “you was here last year”. I’m all for diversity of accents but I also really, honestly believe that people in the public eye need to be setting a good example to the next generation of British children. I would be very disappointed indeed if my children came home uttering such nonsense but I know I’m fighting a losing battle on that front (and I also realise there are plenty bigger issues to be concerned about when raising children). Anyway, my point is yes let’s encourage the Johnny and Jane Foreigners to speak the lingo but let’s also make sure British people are upholding the necessary standards in the first place.