Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Expedition England -Sheffield To Mansfield

Just before I left Moss Side I saw a good movie where a fella called a female friend- girl. Like Hey Girl, are you ok? In a nice, equal and warm way. It kind of stuck, so I have used that word whilst talking with Dana. And Georgia. And a couple of days ago, I asked Georgia if it was ok calling her girl on and off. And her answer was extremely English:

“It is quite nice.” (Said in a very low key dignified way)

Now, since leaving Moss Side, travelling through a predominantly white and picturesque athmosphere I have realized what she was actually saying was:

” For Christ Sake, don´t call me that!” (Said in a yelling kind of a way)

But, she didn´t say that. But smiled when i told her what i believed.

Being in anyway rude seems to be the worst of things to be for an Englishman. Or woman.

This, in my eyes, inability to say what you are actually thinking, and I presume, deep down, want to say, but don´t, has caused me the most concern on this journey so far. Once I turn on the camera, people become very controlled and political and once it is off, they tell me what they really are thinking. I have, of course, realized, this is quite white English. I met a Danish and a Swedish lady in Edale and they confirmed this was their biggest problem after having decided to live in England. (They still preferred to live in Edale compared to Scandinavian though!) They said:

“Don´t be too frank.”

But they have changed to be able to fit in. Fair enough. Moss Side, of course, was different, due to the diversity of cultures, but since we left Moss Side, I have increasingly felt uncomfortable with what kind of material I will end up with at the end.  Frankly, I do not want to do a documentary about the English in an English way. At times it is hilarious, this way to avoid causing discomfort.  The other day in Edale I was listening to a friend who called some people, relatives of him, and with the idea if we could have a stop over there for a night. He did not ask for that so direct though, but instead said we were passing and hoped the people on the other end would understand, but he realized after just a few minutes it wouldn´t happen, since the one on the other side of the line avoided the topic and instead chatted away, for what felt like hours about nothing, just to avoid the issue of saying no.

I get a feeling everybody have to be utterly perfect in England. Or the white England.  At least until we made it too Mansfield today and met a few of the legendary miners belonging to NUM. Yes! They were frank, straight on, honest, passionate and extremely interesting! I am not saying it hasn´t been interesting meetings before this interview, on the contrary, I am just talking passion and frankness now.

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Meeting the miners was big for me, who has kind of followed the developments since the 70´s, Arthur Scargill and the disasterous Thatcher years, which destroyed the unions and which definitely have caused the divides in England today. Big gaps between rich and poor and fear. According to the miners. Really down to earth fellas. And they liked my daughter Dana, who they said was so confident, not a bit shy and it was like she walked in and asked them to show their admiration for her. What a gift I have been given, two such fantastic daughters! And an assisstant like Georgia. She has just developed enormously in every way, this Bolton Girl and I am amazed how incredibly helpful she is. She is warm, opinionated, works like a deamon, sees what has to be done, listen to what I tell her as regards on the subject of filming and executes it! What a gift! Thanks Karl Wait!

And she is a very intelligent and perceptive young lady. After meeting the miners she said (In kind of an English way): “I know it has to do with generational differences, but not once did they look at me, talk to me, if it wasn´t talking about Dana and it was like I didn´t exsist.”

She is certainly a gift from above! And she helps out with Dana. She has got it. All it takes.  I am really priviliged meeting people like this all the time. She will become a friend of all time, no doubt! The same applies to Tom Noel in Edale. He, his great wife Kirsty and their two lovely daughters, are much missed. He felt like a brother.

So far the walk has been relatively easy and predictable. Lots of traffic, pretty much all white, far too picturesque and easy to read. But the walk is still demanding. We are all three very tired at the end of each day. Even Dana, who spends much of her day in a stroller and almost never complains. But we do give her plenty of time to play each day. Yesterday we had some short drama when we stopped in a village full of St George flags ready to cheer England in the World Cup tomorrow and we met a few lads who had tattoos with latin inscriptions they didn´t understand, had drank too much and where unhappy with the immigration and Georgia felt a bit uncomfortable that they would give us grief, but we left in time, with good material and some classic rap against everyone who is not English or white. It gave perspective. So either it seems, you need to be a miner. Or drunk to be frank and say what you really feel.

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I have had a lot of problems with the sound which has given me many sleepless nights, but even here I am adjusting. And I am enjoying every second of this walk. And to do it with my extremely loved daughter, it is just the best of the best!

Prepare Jeremy, an old Africahand in Derby, we are coming!

*Follow the developments of our journey here at http://punkt.luxson.com/daddyadventurer/

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2 comments

  1. M

    Hope everything is going OK for you all

    http://www.mikaelstrandberg.com/2014/06/13/expedition-england-sheffield-to-mansfield-in-total-129-kms/

    ‘GIRL’

    Generally, they don’t seem to like this.

    Sometimes I use the American word ‘Doll’ but I would only use that with either my girlfriend or someone almost as close.

    If someone English does not like something, they will just respond that they ‘quite like it’ but they will pause before they respond. The pause indicates they don’t like it.

    MIDDLE CLASS

    Not polite to talk to someone without an introduction from a third party. So people generally will not just suddenly talk to each other. Americans do.

    If you are foreign you can just talk to people. Your advantage as a foreigner is that you will be accepted by all classes.

    Having met people all over the world and talked to them. Plus hitch-hiked around the world, where you have to ask people for things, I quickly overcame my Englishness. I have used these skills ever since.

    >So far the walk has been relatively easy and predictable.
    >Lots of traffic, pretty much all white, far too picturesque
    >and easy to read.
    >

    Ethnic minorities only live in cities. You will not see them outside the major cities and certainly not in the countryside. My village and my town have no ethnic minorities in it.

    A Korean friend came to visit me at the farm once. She drove along the lane and someone saw her. A week later my father asked if I had a foreign person visit me. Some one had seen them then mentioned it to them in the pub.

    Best,

    D

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