Wednesday, July 6

Dining across the divide: ‘I found myself considering my life in a way I haven’t before’ | life and style



Kieran, 45, Hyde, Greater Manchester

Occupation Project coordinator for a group of games, media and music colleges

voting record Labour; also voted Remain (passionately)

amuse bouche Bought an apartment in Spain, and completed on Brexit day. Nightmare!


Marcia, 59, Manchester

Marcia

Occupation solicitor

voting record Has always voted Labor but is currently having doubts about Keir Starmer’s leadership

amuse bouche Marcia has just finished writing her first novel


For starters

Kieran I arrived a little early, and when Marcia arrived she seemed a little stand-offish.

Marcia He seemed like a great chap. White, middle-aged, spoke very tenderly about his partner.

Kieran I hadn’t really considered that it might be confrontational. I hoped it wouldn’t.

Marcia I had pork belly bites, and a fillet steak so tender I could have cut it with a butter knife.

Kieran I had the duck croquettes – they were delicious.

Marcia and Kieran

The big beef

Marcia The area we were furthest apart on was immigration.

Kieran When I talk about this, I am not referring to refugees. I deeply believe that anyone fleeing persecution, war or violence should be welcomed and provided for unreservedly. The problem is, you can’t just magic up the infrastructure necessary to support 250,000 people a year. It felt a bit like Marcia thought it would just happen.

Marcia The problem isn’t the numbers, it’s the deliberate underinvestment in services. I pointed out that the NHS would never have got off the ground without immigration, and it would collapse tomorrow if all foreign-born workers left. I genuinely think Britain owes an unacknowledged debt of gratitude to immigrants.

Kieran I worried that Marcia felt I was in favor of a blanket ban on immigration and that I’d want migrants returned to their home countries. I just feel we need to get our house in order before we have more friends over to stay.

Marcia During the pandemic, so many put their lives on the line. But once it was deemed to be over, it’s back to business as usual for outlets like the Daily Mail and their migrant-bashing. Kieran quickly pointed out that he did not read the Daily Mail.

Marcia and Kieran

sharing plate

Kieran On paper, we disagreed about whether statues should be removed, but when we talked about it, we were of the same view. Marcia didn’t think all figures like Colston should just be taken down, and I didn’t feel all statues should simply remain as they are.

Marcia Kieran talked about erasing history. My argument was that in the case of Colston, Bristol had chosen to erect a statue to a mass murderer. The best place for it is in a museum, with a full explanation of what he did.

Kieran It was a great learning experience. I would love to have spent more time with Marcia. She knew a lot about US history, and our own.

Marcia We also talked about confederate statues, and Kieran was unaware that most of these were erected long after the US civil war. In my view, they were part of a concerted effort to terrorize black people.

Marcia and Kieran

for afters

Kieran I took (and still take) the view that most people are inherently “good” – not sexist, racist, not prejudiced. So by extension, the police force would be filled with people who are passionate about helping those in need.

Marcia The heavy-handed response to demonstrations after the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer was a classic example of institutional sexism. Not to mention the number of female officers who have identified a culture of sexism, and the retaliation against them when they spoke out about it. I think Kieran felt I was saying that every single police officer is sexist.

Kieran I struggled with this. It left me in a bit of a crisis about whether or not the majority of people are actually good.

Marcia and Kieran

Takeaways

Marcia I was pleasantly surprised at how open-minded Kieran was. He said he hasn’t given much thought to the issues we discussed, particularly those that touched on race.

Kieran I found myself considering my life in a way that I haven’t before. The fact that I have never thought about white privilege in the past is, I’m sure, because I’ve benefited from it.

Marcia and Kieran

Kieran and Marcia ate at Menagerie Restaurant & Bar in Salford, Greater Manchester

Want to meet someone from across the divide? Find out how to take part


www.theguardian.com

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