The Bliss of Ignorance

In which The Author walks out of the pub

On Monday, the Office for National Statistics announced that the most popular names for babies born in England and Wales last year were Harry and Amelia.
The changing trends in baby names have been interesting to follow over the years, and better minds than mine have applied themselves to the data. As I noted in What’s in a Name, a few years ago the most popular names were Jack and Chloe – the names of the children of TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan. Now, Jack has dropped to third place, and Chloe is out of the top ten entirely.
The continuing proliferation of Harrys could possibly be explained by either a certain royal ginger, or a certain bespectacled wizard. (My money’s on the latter, personally.) Already, some commentators are predicting a sudden upsurge of Georges, following the birth of the third heir to the throne last month. Meanwhile, I wonder if the presence of Amelia at the top of the list is down to a Scottish former TARDIS-traveller. After all, Rory has entered the list at number 99. Maybe next year’s figures will show a sudden burst of Clara fever. Who knows?
Anyway, here’s the official release from the ONS, so you can see it for yourself:

Baby names for 2012

As you can see from this table, the Top Ten names for boys were:
Harry Jacob
Oliver Oliver
Jack Riley
Charlie Jack
Jacob Alfie
Thomas Harry
Alfie Charlie
Riley Dylan
William William
James Mason
I heard this story reported on The World at One, but of course it wasn’t just the BBC that reported it. Here’s a quick round-up of the way some of the main UK media outlets handled it on Monday and Tuesday (when the papers printed it):
Harry and Amelia were the most popular first names for babies in England and Wales in 2012 – taking the top spots for the second year running.
(BBC news website)
Harry and Amelia were the top names for babies born in England and Wales last year, the same as 12 months before.
(SKY News website)
(The Times)
(The Daily Telegraph)
Amelia and Harry remained top of the baby names across England and Wales in 2012 – the second year in a row that the names have topped the list of the 100 most popular baby names.
(The Guardian)
(The Independent)
Well, that all seems fairly consistent, doesn’t it? They’ve reported the facts, and – in the case of SKY News – offered an opinion from a self-appointed style arbiter named Katie Hopkins (whoever she is!)
Then why did the Daily Express splash this banner headline on its front page?
Changing face of Britain: ‘Muhammad’ is now second most popular boys’ name
It would have been far more accurate for this piece of right-wing trash to print the headline Changing face of London, as the statistical evidence does indeed bear out this claim. Muhammad (in its various different spellings) was the most popular name for boys born in London. But London is not synonymous with Britain, is it. It’s a huge, diverse and cosmopolitan city of nearly ten million people, representing just about every nation on the Earth.
Needless to say, the bigots in the pub didn’t bother to read the full report, which was on an inside page. No – that would have stretched their literacy skills to beyond breaking point. Just the headline was enough to start the regular afternoon fuckwits off on their knee-jerk racist ranting. After a couple of predictable statements about ‘letting “them” take over the country’, one of them – a former teacher and pub landlord, who doesn’t even like the English guys who come into the pub – said (and I quote), ‘What’s this country coming to?’
At that point, I lost my rag (pun intended.) I was sitting at a nearby table with the Mirror open to the crossword. I shouted across at them, ‘If that’s true, then how come all the other papers, SKY news, and the BBC, reckon Harry is the most popular boy’s name? They can’t both be true, can they?’
The Pub Landlord decided to try and defend his indefensible position, and said, ‘What does it tell you, then?’
I replied, ‘It tells me that paper has a far-right political agenda, and you lot are so fucking stupid that you fall for it every time.’
I finished my drank, grabbed my stuff, and walked out.
I called in there again yesterday. It didn’t surprise me that none of the fascist fuckwits said ‘hello’ when I walked in. However, I did overhear an odd conversation between some of them. Apparently one of them had collapsed in another pub and had been rushed to hospital. He was singing the praises of the healthcare professionals who’d ministered to him in his hour of need. I was tempted to ask him how long he’d have lasted if he’d insisted on being treated exclusively by white, British-born doctors, nurses and paramedics.
I suspect that the answer is ‘not very long.’ After all, the UK National Health Service would pretty much collapse overnight if it was dependent solely on that one ethnic group. And I wonder whether those same fuckwits would manage very well without the owners of the ‘corner shops’ that keep them supplied with cigarettes and beer when the supermarkets are closed.
What Tuesday’s incident gave me was an important insight into the minds of the Pub Landlord and his pisshead pals. I can sum up their attitude as this: immigrants are fine just as long as they know their place – and that place is either behind the counter of a corner shop, or wiping the arse of a racist bastard whom I’d have let die on the pub floor. Just as long as they don’t do things that white people take for granted – like having children – they can stay here…
I don’t care if those fuckwits ignore me whenever I see them from now on. They’ve got nothing to say which is worth listening to. After all, as Jerry Dammers once sang, ‘If you have a racist friend, now is the time for that friendship to end.’