‘Every Irish Person In Britain Knows The Little Nod, The Little Wink’

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Jeremy Clarkson and Oisin Tymon

 

Further to the alleged racist and violent assault by BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson on his Irish producer.

Padraig Reidy, Irish born-journalist in Britain, writes:

…The queer thing about anti-Irish racism (and its partner, anti-Catholicism), is that a hell of a lot of British people are in denial about its existence (trust me, Irish people are not). It was, certainly, worse during the “Troubles”, but there is a mistaken belief that the Troubles was the sole reason for anti-Irish feeling.

In truth, of course, it is a hell of a lot more complicated than that. Ireland was one of the first colonies: justification for all colonisation, then as now, is partly found in the dehumanisation of the conquered.

The Irish, with their distinct laws, customs and language, were not really fit to rule themselves (how often is that sentiment echoed today?); we were not diligent, we were not to be trusted: they were, as Mr Clarkson would allegedly have it, “lazy Irish c**ts”.

Every so often, a well-meaning British liberal friend will either a) declare matily that “we’re all the same” and what the hell was all that fighting about, eh? or b) inquire archly about whether, considering the decades of quasi-theocracy the Irish republic endured, and the apparent corruption of the political system, was the whole independence thing really worth it?

And every time, you remind them: yes. We were a colony. We were stripped of land, language, identity. We were routinely demonised and patronised.

…we were not, and never would be viewed as equals by the British establishment. Every Irish person in Britain knows the little nod, the little wink. More often now it is disguised as affection, or indulgence (“Oh, you funny people” is always implied).

But the undertones are the same: feckless, violent, drunken. And occasionally, someone like Clarkson, who, as better writers than I have pointed out, is simultaneously at the very heart of the Establishment while feigning to rail against it, will let it all spill out, in full vitriol.

And we’re back with an image that easily resonates with Irish people: an English toff assaulting a “lazy” Irish lackey for not doing his bidding. What we hoped we’d be able to leave behind.

Jeremy Clarkson and being “lazy Irish” in Britain (Padraig Reidy Little Atoms)

Any excuse

95 thoughts on “‘Every Irish Person In Britain Knows The Little Nod, The Little Wink’

    1. gertrude

      yes, it’s unfair to talk about more than one thing at any time. all things are different. i propose we abolish plurals and collective pronouns, lest this generalisation fad take root.

        1. Shayna

          Sorry Jungleman – I lived in London @15 years, they still had signs on B&B windows in the Shepherd’s Bush area – ‘No Blacks, No irish, No Dogs’… this was only the late ’80s. I lived in Shepherd’s Bush in case you were wondering.
          Sadly (The English), they still think of us in the same way. They ingratiate upon us via language such as ‘ the land of saints and scholars’ – when truly they mean, just as Clarkson put it, via the above post.

          1. gertrude

            you shouldn’t generalise like that. in general, and here specifically, generalising is wrong.

    1. DoSAC

      Absolute horsespoo. I’m working in England and I’ve never experienced anti-Irish racism

      1. Poola

        I lived there for a few months about ten years ago and frequently had comments degrading the Irish. Some were said in a jokey way but it was meant and because we’re such a great bunch of lads they were used to it being laughed off. When I questioned what they meant they’d trip over themselves to apologize while still saying things like “the mainland” and “didn’t think you Paddies minded us taking the piss”.

        1. Poola

          Just to clarify, I loved it there, the people were decent but there is an amount of snobbery against Irish there. Perhaps I met more than my fair share while I was there but it happened.

          1. James Maidment

            I am an Englishman living in Ireland for 40+ years and I have very rarely come across any racism (directed at me). The opposite is quite true in England but the Irish (my wife included) tend to regard the English people who are racist, as ignorant bigots.
            I have had to cringe with embarrassment when I hear and see the way some English people act towards people they regard as ‘foreigners.’
            It is an eye-opening moment when you move away from England to live, you begin to get an inkling of how little respect the rest of the world has for the casual bigotry that English people employ and NO they don’t like being patronised either. Many of the countries English people visit had a developed culture when we were scrabbling around in the mud.
            I like being English and I respect the Scots the Welsh and the Irish, they have been too indulgent with us regarding our serious lack of manners.
            Yes they do notice your cringeworthy comments, so don’t use them and
            Jeremy Clarkson is an example of a typical English gobshite, you have no business holding him up as an example of anything other than an idiot.

    1. Jdawg

      Yeh I know. Irish people never take the piss out of anybody. Even theirselves. This article is stupid. You could make a list might long about all the people, countries, cars, companies, public figures Clarkson has slagged off.
      Don’t take it personal.

      1. scundered

        He just says things that other people don’t have the balls to say generally. That’s why he is popular, his honesty.

      2. Simone

        Oh I don’t take it personally- we throw in nationality and hair colour and all sorts in a comeback- doesn’t make us racist, sexist etc… LOVE Clarkson- really do- just have a problem that he turned to violence and split yer man’s lip open- that’s not on. He was out down the pub and probably was a bit well for wear- but the hotel staff report he was rude and ranting- I judge people on how they treat service staff. I worked in that industry to get myself through university- nice people were always nice and appreciative- arrogant people were a pain to deal with and I think Clarkson should apologise for his behaviour. We all enjoy his antics and it is banter- but hitting someone isn’t grand like (said in a very Irish manner with intent)

          1. B Bop

            A rather inane response if indeed the service staff are inept & incapable of doing their job.
            Though go ahead there, grinning amicably like a decent sod.

  1. Verbatim75

    The only part I don’t agree with is “a wink, and a nod” which connotates agreement/compliance. I’ve experienced language leakage with (some) British people when it comes to being Irish, in GB, or elsewhere in the world, usually it leaves me feeling embarassed for them.

    1. Simone

      Yera don’t- we don’t get embarrassed- we just pity them for being silly and move along :D

    1. John

      Yeah, I know what you mean. Off the cuff remark……

      I always call my co-workers lazy Irish c***s all the time, its totally acceptable in the work place to do so don’t you know…..

      Bottom line is what he did was bang out of order, he was on final warning so he should be sacked.

    2. Delacaravanio

      The self-styled Jezza has been using racist language in public for years, and apparently is much worse in private. This isn’t a one off, rather it’s the typical actions of a bigoted loudmouth.

      “We” all don’t behave like that, unless you grew up in apartheid South Africa.

      1. Drogg

        Really what I find the average irish says behind closed doors would give jezza a run for his money in the racism department.

    3. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      @Dhaughton99

      “The heat of the argument”, was that when the victim was assaulted?

      I haven’t assaulted a colleague, ever.

  2. Atticus

    He’s reading too much into it. It’s Clarkson, he’s a dick. He would’ve been just as racist if it was a Chinese or Polish assistant.

        1. Ciarán

          I thought it was his specific lack of assistance in that task that lead ‘Jezza’ punch him?

    1. TransOpTrans

      Actually, this is more relevant:

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/15/top-gear-clarkson-tv-exports

      TG is a huge cultural export for the Brits. People love it.

      And let’s not forget there us plenty of anti-Irish sentiment in the UK coming from the Irish community too – the London Irish working in the Financial industry for example, are hod-carriers for anti-Irish vile racism. They too, ironically, are regarded as outsider-insiders by the rest of that shower.

  3. Blublu

    It’s funny, I don’t think I could ever be insulted by “anti-Irish racism”. Maybe I’m just very proud but the instant someone tries to put me down for being Irish I instantly feel superior to that person. Of course being Irish has never held me back in the way that being a difference race or gender would but it makes me hopeful that some day those who are currently being discriminated against on a daily basis, as Irish people were in different places in different periods, will feel the same way.

    Though unfortunately their oppressors aren’t all ruled by an irrelevant and incestual family ;)

  4. TransOpTrans

    Yet RTE Player still enables you to view this Tory Brit Buffoon and his cronies. Well done, RTE Digital.

  5. mauriac

    Irish is also used as a quasi synonym for stupid in England which is not very neighbourly.

    1. The Old Boy

      “English” or “British” are regularly used in Ireland as synonyms for some variation of oppressors, invaders, bastards. Not too friendly either, even if Ireland got the bad end of the deal.

  6. Bort

    I could count on two hands the amounts of English people I’ve met over the years that didn’t know Ireland was NOT part of The United Kingdom

      1. Chris

        How would you know that Joe? Have you met them all? By the way, sentences end with full stops.

  7. Guido

    Jeremy, ‘Oisin, will you make sure the grub is arranged for the end of shooting? We’ll be starving!’

    Oisin, ‘I will yeah.’

    1. B Bop

      This!
      There is an element of after a long hard day & anticipating a savage meal…to be faced with paltry cold cuts & cheese…not a punchable or racist offense…merely a soft bitch slap & a rollicking bolloc&ing.

      1. scottser

        Weĺl clarkson stayed in the pub, kept the rest of the crew waiting while he gets nice an toasted. Chef goes at 10pm. If i was tymon i’d have told clarkson to ring the chippy and retired to my room fortwith.

        1. B Bop

          They actually flew 2 hours by helicopter back to hotel-there was no sozzled Clarkson…just Hammond & May ordering a couple of drinks at the bar.
          Eyewitnesses at the hotel said Clarkson not drunk though very angry.

  8. joe

    Ginger abuse is similar discrimination but nobody seems to have a problem with that in Ireland. Probably because gingers are a minority in Ireland and we don’t care about the feelings of minorities so much. You aren’t so different from us! ;)

  9. Boba Fettucine

    “the undertones are the same: feckless, violent, drunken.”

    Bit unfair to mention this without crediting them with creating some of the catchiest guitar pop ever produced.

  10. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    The BBC has a history of turning a blind eye to the misdeeds of their ‘stars’. If they have learned anything from how they handled Jimmy Savile, then Jezza will be sacked.

  11. Roseofkent

    Given his over-paid drunken boorishness at the time isn’t it likely that Clarkson would have called a Scottish producer a jock c**t or a Welsh one a taffy c**t? His recent past has shown him to employ casual racism against a variety of people. No reason to tar all the British as 24 hour a day foaming at the mouth dedicated haters of Irish people. Surely?

  12. ProvingGround

    Anyone ever pause to think if they’re right and this isn’t just lazy prejudice?

    Maybe it’s just me but this country is a complete joke top to bottom…

  13. spork

    did my time in the uk, but also can take a bit of banter – so enjoyed every minute. as we are the same race, it’s not racism – it’s just playground nonsense. i was called many names, mostly by my friends. but don’t feel special just because you get called a potato eating paddy, the welsh, scots, australians, kiwis (am i allowed say that) and everyone else, has a label too… and you know what, that’s ok. in fact, it’s funny, and if you don’t get that – you’re prolly a very serious potato eating paddy.

    by the way, why is being called an “irish c*nt” extra offensive to people? i mean, the guy IS irish (the c*nt part is open to debate).

    1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      @spork

      Try calling your work mates ‘pommie c***t’, see how you get on.

    2. Anne

      I’m not sure now.. but I don’t think it’s considered a bit of banter if you’re digging the head off someone as you’re saying it.

  14. Domnhallach

    What do people mean when they say ‘British’, or when they refer to ‘British people’?
    They mean English. Not Scottish, not Welsh, not Northern Irish.

    English.
    That ‘British’ identity is equal to ‘English’ identity and vice versa, with the Celtic ethnicities aggressively excluded from that unless it’s a token, and often caricatured representation, tells you all you need to know about ‘Britishness’.

  15. Callum D George

    This happens to Scots too – an inflated and groundless sense of self-importance and inherent racism afflicts many English when referring to a specifically Scottish issue. This was seen all too clearly during the lead-up to the independence referendum. The media, the authorities, a great number of the general population all perpetuated this effect, seemingly without knowledge of the very real racism that it constituted.
    It seems obvious to me, such as the moment a media broadcaster inexplicably aired an interview the ‘celebrity hairdresser’ Nicky Clarke… about his opinions on Scottish independence. He suggested Scots were not intelligence enough to run their own affairs (which they already do quite well), as well as making other racist remarks, which were not challenged by the hosts.
    The most ingrained forms of racism, the most true and most prevalent forms, are those where the racist does not see themselves as racist.

  16. Glyn Evans

    Have you listened to the Irish public talking about Eastern Euopians, Africans and Asians,
    Even if some of the comments I have
    whitnessed are taken with some humor they are deeply racist.
    The same is true in Australia with all races in a packing order and the Irish are at number 3 after the English and Scott’s, at the bottom currently are Africans.
    Face it the Irish are as racist as all people
    have you never noticed how the English take the piss out of their own nationalality something they have a talent for.
    The Irish had not invited the Normans (French)
    Circa 1080 to fight their battles for them you may have avoided being integrated into the UK, Fitzgerald, Burke, Clare are all French names.
    Then think about the amount of Irish people living in the UK, why? If it’s just about economics the racism can be that bad, and you have here in Ireland got the best image after digging the country into debt because of greed and corruption.
    Had the Irish had the mite of the Normans the Irish would have done the same to the English.
    It’s time the few Irish wingers take responsabiy
    for their past and future!!!!!!

    1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      “have you never noticed how the English take the piss out of their own nationalality something they have a talent for.”

      No, I have noticed how they will tell you that they take the piss out of themselves. It is different to actually doing it.

      The Britsh didn’t allow Aussie comedians to provide commentary to the last ‘royal wedding’.
      http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/royal-wedding/abc-not-amused-as-royals-ban-chaser-threaten-coverage-20110427-1dwyd.html

      Tell me more about this great sense of humour.

  17. Jutta Brassil

    What is wrong with you Irish and English people ? You live on two islands which where once joint. Why can’t you forgive and forget and move on ? Why still digging up what your forefathers did do to each other and repeating the same behaviour ? There are bigger conflicts amongst nations , UNITE ISLANDERS , stand up United and be an example to rest of The World !!!!

    1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      @Jutta

      The Irish weren’t so happy when the other island forced us to be united with them. Many of us aren’t too happy about them keeping part of the island, against the wishes of the majority on this island.

  18. Ciarán

    I read on Russia Today that Putin went missing for the last week because he had flown over to London to audition as the new Top Gear presenter.

  19. Davey

    There are some silly comments here, for instance “The English”. Now just for a start there are lots of different kinds of English people. Presumably when the phrase “The English” is used, the people being referred to are the toffs who went to Eton.

    Of course some Irish people do have a very large chip on their shoulder. For instance an Irishman in Portugal who really does need to see a doctor, accused me of causing the potato famine! It was a few years ago but I’m not that old.

    1. James Maidment

      Dear Davey, I am not selecting English people generally, I’m one too. But I am an Englishman living in Ireland for 40+ years and I have very rarely come across any racism (directed at me) although I have heard some directed at Travellers!
      The opposite is true in England, but the Irish (my wife included) tend to regard the English people who are racist, as ignorant bigots.
      I have had to cringe with embarrassment when I hear and see the way some English people (Terribly well meaning people) act towards people they regard as ‘foreigners.’ It is an eye-opening moment when you move away from England to live, you begin to get an inkling of how little respect the rest of the world has for the casual bigotry that many English people employ and NO those ‘foreigners’ don’t like being patronised either. Many of the countries English people visit had a developed culture when we (the English) were scrabbling around in the mud.
      I like being English and I respect the Scots the Welsh and the Irish, they have been too indulgent with us regarding our serious lack of manners.
      Yes they do notice your cringeworthy comments, so don’t use them and furthermore; Jeremy Clarkson is an example of a typical English gobshite, you have no business holding him up as an example of anything other than as an idiot.

  20. Alan

    I think the English are generally a very decent people. But there’s always an undercurrent there about other cultures. They smile and pretend to be exceedingly tolerant, but deep down they are as any other country. They just hide it better, is all. Keeping up appearances and all that.

    As for Ireland, we’re no better towards foreigners. So we should worry about our own behaviour first and foremost.

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