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Ku Klux Gran

Billy’s grandma never considered herself to be racist. She just didn't happen to like other races. It was never personal. But if you happened to be Asian or Black you weren't in with much chance of being invited around for tea. You could have been born in the same hospital as her, raised in the same town as her, been every bit as English as she, but if your skin was darker than a summer tan then, in here eyes, you were ‘ethnic’. It wasn’t your fault and she certainly didn’t wish harm upon you – but the chances of being blamed for things that had nothing to do with you were pretty high. Billy often teased his grandma by saying his newest girlfriend was from Pakistan or Sierra Leone or Nigeria or Birmingham – to which she’d let out a tut of disgust before hitting him on the arm when she realised he was teasing. (Of course, the one time he actually did date a black girl, he didn’t say a word to her.) Billy found it interesting how effortless it was for everyone in his family to take Grandma’s racism in their stride. ‘She’s from a different era’, they’d say, ‘it’s all harmless, really’. Harmless for them, sure - they were white. Grandma’s verbally abused Indonesian Doctor might not agree, nor would Jeffrey Pearce, a third-generation Moroccan immigrant who owned the newsagents at the end of Grandma’s road. There was nothing innocent or naïve or charmingly old-fashioned about the time she told him his family had affected house prices in her neighbourhood. A neighbourhood his family had lived in long before she did. But whatever contempt she held for other races was nothing compared to the hatred she felt towards homosexuals. After all, ‘at least the darkies didn't choose to be that way’. For outsiders looking in she was a loveable old lady; all boiled sweets and cheek-pinching. It’s true that she was adorable most of the time. Just. She was adorable exactly 53% of the time. 44% of the time she was grumpy. And 3% of the time she was a whole new level of evil, ready to grind your spirit to dust with mental abuse so efficient, you never really knew it was happening. It took Billy’s father 48 years to fully realise the pyschological damage his mother’s own personal brand of tough love has caused him. With all of these things going through his head, Billy cleared his throat and swallowed hard. The room was ready for him to speak. This was going to be a tough eulogy.

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