Friday, December 3

Dining on the other side of the divide: ‘If I had had more time, I think I could have changed it’ | Life and Style

Dining Across the Divider David

David, 73, Stockport

Occupation Semi-retired musician and former director of a music school

Voting record Always Labor, Except Once: Conservative in 1970 General Election

Appetizer David just celebrated his golden wedding anniversary

Zahoor (Ziggy), 51, Stockport

Dining on the other side of the divider Ziggy

Occupation Safety and health and safety advisor for a waste management company

Voting record He has only voted four times: Labor until the Iraq war, never since

Appetizer At 16, Ziggy had an arranged marriage to a first cousin, as a sweetener in a land purchase his father was making in Kashmir. Then they divorced

For starters

Ziggy I arrived first. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be late.

David There he was, upstairs in this little restaurant, with a big smile and a glass of beer. My immediate reaction was: “I thought you were a Muslim?”

Ziggy I had chicken, with some kind of creamy sauce. I am of poor origin. In my 50s, I’ve been to a restaurant maybe 20 times, 25?

David I had calamari and seafood risotto.

Dining through the dividers David (left) and Ziggy

The great meat

David At one point I made a very emotional speech, partly because I am a musician. We tend to have a very European vision of culture. It is partly that the EU has kept the peace all my life, unlike the previous 2000 years, when European nations were tearing each other’s throats. Ziggy is an emotional and passionate guy, and he swallowed all of that. But he clings to the view that current problems are just a wrinkle.

Ziggy I did not vote in the referendum, and when the country voted to leave, I was mortified. It was almost as if we had lost the war to fascism. I was devastated. But as time passed, I began to agree to Brexit. We’ve had absolute immigration, a wrestling for everyone, and I could understand why people were angry. When you start allowing absolute immigration, without creating new schools, new doctor surgeries, you are looking for trouble.

I came to England in 1971, when I was one year old. All my life, I have struggled with being an immigrant, being accepted in society, being treated differently. My dad put all these Islamic posters in our house and they threw eggs at us. It was like a war zone. I hated it. I find that people are not racist with me now because of how I speak, but someone who has just arrived, with a limited vocabulary, is a target.

David You read so many newspapers and have a broad view of which of them is right. But on this particular issue, he swallowed all this stuff about immigrants coming here and ditching our public services, and there’s no way to move him. It is simply embedded. It makes me feel worse in some way. If I had had more time with Ziggy, I think I could have changed it.

Ziggy You have to accept what the general consensus is; As much as you don’t like it, you have to accept it. When you don’t want to face the truth, it’s difficult sometimes, right?

Dining through the dividers David and Ziggy (on the left)

Sharing plate

David I think he bought this – there are so many different Brexits and the one we have right now is a really tough Brexit. A better government might say, “Let’s take a look at this and come up with a better solution.”

Ziggy He’s over the moon, obviously, with all the problems: the gasoline shortage, the empty shelves …

Dining through the dividers David (left) and Ziggy

For later

David We didn’t talk much about inequality, although it was an underlying theme of the evening. I am lucky, whereas when he was about 15 years old, his father sent him to work in a maquiladora. He worked all night, came home, ate breakfast, and then went to school.

Ziggy I was a little envious of him. David is from a much more prosperous area in the Northwest – he’s a Runcorn guy, he’s got a brilliant résumé compared to mine. He worked for the BBC, he went to the University of Manchester, he would only dream of going to such a place. I am getting more envious as I get older. I am at that age where I am analyzing everything I have done in the past, all the decisions I have made, how stupid I have been.

Dining through the dividers David (on the right) and Ziggy


David I feel like I’ve made a new friend. He’s a very smart and thoughtful guy. And he’s not a huge Conservative Party fan.

Ziggy We exchange numbers at the end, because we get along so well.

Dining through the dividers David (left) and Ziggy

Additional reporting: Rachel Obordo

Ziggy and David ate at Land and sea, Stockport

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