Oops… the Thought Police have been on the phone again and taken issue with my latest “Newsletter to Host Families”. I tell you now, I feel a bit like Salman Rushdie trying to explain myself and have the Fatwa removed from my head.
For heavens sake, I am hardly trying to incite racial tensions amongst local residents, let alone world wide! I need host families not want to lose them….but here is a flavour of the beaurocracy as have to put up with…
We were about to welcome a group from Paris who are, dare I say, a group who like to follow a Hallal Diet, if you get my drift. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all but I thought I should give the ” heads up” to the Hosts and inform them on what is and isn’t acceptable to put on the plate at meal times…….
Now I thought I was being helpful and because people often fall asleep when I relay information, I thought I would keep it amusing. ( Peeps… are you still with me, or has your train of thought wandered off as well?
So in my newsletter of Handy Tips and Hints I remind them that when we say they follow a ” vegetarian diet” they don’t really mean that they want Tofu and Nut Roast every day, they are simply saying that they don’t want our skanky meat if it isn’t hallal and so ditch the Pork Chop, but they will, however, happily tuck into a bag of cheesy chips and pizza. This does seem to stretch the imagination of a few host families when it comes to packed lunch. F. F. S. what is hard about not putting a pork derivative into a bread roll and replacing it with,… oh, lets me see….
Cheese? Egg? Salmon or even that good old standby Tuna ( from a tin!) So I continued on with my amusing theme and said…( and I quote) … So if you have a ” No Porker” try to respect their diet and offer an alternative as suggested beforehand. I thought everyone would have got that but apparently Mrs Farnes was struggling with that in the literal sense. I shall explain….
A group leader comes up to me. ( Nice lady. Parisian Chic but really she should stop the smoking, especially when she blows it out in my face. That really does hack me off! …
” I thought we gave you a list of students who mustn’t eat porc” ( no H its not a typo, I thought I would introduce a little bit of gaellic interest and spell it the French way : -) )…” eh you did… has someone ignored it?” I ventured, knowing I would regret it.
“Well Madame Farnes has given Ham sandwiches now for 2 days. Can you believe it?”
Frankly, I could but I wasn’t going to admit that one in public. I pick the phone up ” Mrs Farnes… I thought I explained to you that your students are Muslim and therefore no pork”. ” Quite right, I know that!” she replied in a rather testy manner.
” Eh well it doesn’t seem to be the case here, I’m afraid”
” Look,” ( I could feel her puffing her ample bosum up and crossing her arms defensively
” Look” she repeated for emphasis ” I have followed the diet. You said No Pork and No Pork is what he has ( is that a double negative there?”)
” But the sandwiches”…..she interrupted me
” Whats wrong with the bloody sandwiches? You said No pork so I gave him ruddy ham! Yesterday and today!” As I said, you couldn’t make it up….
Back to the newsletter… so I wrote up the little telephonic exchange in the newsletter for clarity and as an Information Leaflet and ended it with ” So folks.. just to remind you… Ham really does come from Pork. Which is also known as a Pig! ”
….and for emphasis and clarity for those who struggle with the written word, I attached a photograph similar to the one at the top of this page of a little pig.
Someone reported that exchange to the British Council saying I was being racist and not respecting Muslims diet! Really??? Well excuse me whilst I cough, but I thought I was showing the world what a Drongo of a Host Family Mrs Farnes was, ie highlighting that Brits are a stupid race, not being a Racist and actually helping them respect other culture’s diet. Apparently not. I am still waiting for a knock on the door….
So I have had to take the advice of LM and tone down my newsletters and make them factual and not whimsical in case I get put on the Fatwas list and have to run away to Namibia and live a life on the run until they forget all about me or Bocal Haram run away with me should I stray into Nigeria. Whichever way, it would appear I am doomed!
I will keep this one short as I have already had another complaint. The leader said that two of her girls weren’t happy about being awoken at 5am by the Parrot chanting and calling the host family to Prayer. (Yes of course one of only 4 non Muslim students and I happen to put them with a Muslim family.) I didn’t know what she meant and thought I would pay a visit to Mrs El’oun and ask her about it. Mrs El’oun is actually White; Christian and British and is more commonly known as ” Bogbrush!” This is on account of her cleaning everything with household bleach, including her hair. Which, as you can imagine is not sleek and shiny but more rough and spikey because the ends have broken off with the over use of household bleach. Mrs El’oun’s husband is from the Gaza strip but isn’t a Migrant as he has a regular job in Halfords and is actually a very nice man. There has already been a highly publicised Court Case between neighbours over the raising of Israelis and Jewish flags in local gardens so I wanted to keep everything quiet. When I got down there, she told me he was about to start his chant but wouldn’t do so if he had spectators and could I hide under the staircase so he didn’t see me. ( This is absolutely true) It was easier not to argue.
So I crouched under there along with Mrs El’oun and an assortment of buggies and smelly trainers and waited for the parrot to start up. As sure as eggs were eggs, off he went and to cap it all he then starting swinging on his bar like a trapeze artists. She said he does it three times a day to remind her husband to come and pray and Halfords have been very good at changing his ” dinner time” to allow him to pop home. Apparently her husband bought him from a Manchester Mosque when the Holy Man there decided Mr El’oun needed to pay more attention to his prayers and less to Brighton and Hove Albion going up into the Premier Division. However it was quite a loud noise and although not as bad as the canned muzak you hear from the Mosques in Cairo, it was pretty grim and I could understand the complaint. Mrs El’oun told me that even if she wanted to, she couldn’t stop him now and even though they throw a cover over him at night, he still starts up as soon as he sees daylight is approaching each morning. ” he doesn’t even take a day off for Christmas” she whispered to me with a conspiratorial wink. The day was becoming more surreal by the minute.
” He also dances to Barry White as well. Do you want to see?” …….and before I could say ” Allah Akbar” she had switched the Barry White cd on and I was privy, once again, to the Parrot singing along his bar. Oh and worse, whilst we were enjoying the avian equivalent of “Britains Got Talent, Mrs El’oun asked me to come in with the chorus.
I sighed. Sat down on a couple of smelly trainers. Up close and personal to Bogbrush’s very wiry hair and did as she suggested…..
(Oh death, where is thy ( sweet) sting?)
Folks, as they say, a day in the world of EFL is always way too long! Until next time…
(Disclaimer – Just to say, all of these stories are true and accurate. Only the names have been changed to protect myself! And as I am currently hosting and mothering two trainee Libyan (Muslim) Pilots, don’t anyone dare say I am racist!)