I know a man called Mick Deacon. Well, I don’t. That is not his real name. But he does come from East Anglia in the UK. At the moment, he is living in the working class heartland of Donald Trump’s America. On the day when the Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives, this what he told me in an email…
The decent people I know here are really afraid at what is going to happen to their country.
Trump is stirring up racism in such a huge way.
It is not just what he says that is so shocking.
He is stirring up a subconscious OK for Racism trend here.
The crime rate in this city, away from the tourist areas, is quite shocking. And the mental health problems are huge. Two days ago, I was on a bus which was a bit like a Beirut scenario. There was a woman going crazy at a man.
Coupled with easy access to guns, this is not a good mix.
It is so easy to buy guns here it is ridiculous. There was a gun fair on last weekend. As casual as a church tea party.
I have never seen such noticeable mental health conditions as I’ve seen here.
The people with mental health problems on the bus from hell I travel out to the sticks on are usually poor and female although I do see quite a few older white males in the same way. I feel afraid when trapped on a bus with them. Daily.
It’s the outward spontaneous loudness of their attacks that shocks me as an British person. You would very rarely see sudden outbursts like these in UK. I really have learned a lot about my culture: how tough we are, the whole stiff upper lip part of us.
With the poverty here, added to lack of help and easy access to guns, it is no surprise that people just get randomly shot for barely doing anything.
Apparently in this city, there are a lot of young, uneducated people with a family history of no moral values and that results in a high level of shootings – even in tourist areas. Recently, a gang of 8-17 year olds beat up a receptionist in what is thought to have been a gay hate crime started by an 8 year old. The guy ended up with a fractured orbital bone – that’s the bone of the eye socket – and loss of front teeth.
I knew it might be a challenge living here, but I was almost defeated last night.
I did not sleep until 2.30am as my lovely new pal here was up until then coaching me what to do to keep myself safe in the house. It is a far cry from the market square in Norwich on a Saturday night – the nearest I got toviolence at home.
My new pal’s first bit of advice was to get some mace spray. In my lovely little British bubble world, I thought it was for cooking. No. It is to spray in someone’s face when they attack me!
These bus trips daily from the neighbourhood are a challenge. The guy I am renting my room off is a retired policeman and he tries to educate me/terrify me in how to – in his rather intimidating words – KEEP SAFE.
His advice is: “Don’t speak to anyone… Be constantly vigilant… Don’t let anyone get to close to you… When you are in the house, don’t ever answer door without looking through window first to see who it is… If you don’t know them, say firmly WHAT DO YOU WANT? very hard… Any noise at night, call 911… Wherever you are, just be vigilant!”
I am not really sure what that does to the brain – being on alert constantly.
The stark contrast to how the tourist and mid city is to my new suburban palace is immeasurable. It is like being on a Quentin Tarantino episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show.
I like to experience life to the full but this, however, is over even my bar!
At least I am currently still alive – despite the fact a car hit another car yesterday and I have no idea how they actually ended up where they did.
One ended up squashed alongside a parked vehicle in a side street and the other one ended up going down the pavement and getting embedded in someone’s stone staircase outside their house.
I was in a cafe and the guy who was sat on the patio in front of the cafe suddenly ran for cover and there were two really large bangs. I thought they were gunshots.
Apparently the government make so much money from the sale of guns it will never stop.
It is a bit like smoking in the UK but that is a much slower death.
Here, BANG! No warning. No panic. Dead.
In the UK, I am led to believe someone with a gun would wave it about for quite a period of time, instil fear in everyone for at least ten minutes, then not always do anything.
And here, in my experience, black people are way friendlier than white. I am not saying that I have not met some very nice white people, but they are usually younger than me or a lot older.
People around my age – early middle age – seem to have masses of anxiety and talk really loud about their needs and how tough a life they have if they can’t quite afford zillion dollar alterations to their house or haven’t got expensive clothes, meals etc.
Americans are aspirational.
Maybe they have to be to survive.