Diversity is alive and well in France.

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Diversity is alive and well in France.

If you have been reading the news this week you may well have come across a report which concerns  racial discrimination on the beaches of Southern  France. Apparently an organisation called “SOS Racisme”  revealed  that a couple of North African appearance were refused sun loungers on a private beach on the Cote d’Azure , while a white couple were readily allotted sunbeds in the front row shortly afterwards. When booking loungers by phone, discrimination was likewise shown towards people with foreign sounding names. Other undercover operations have shown that discrimination occurs in night clubs and bars in Marseilles. And so it goes on. Alas, one can have the strictest anti discrimination laws in the world , but racial prejudice is subtle, and it  still blights  people’s lives.

On the other hand there is much to celebrate, and I for one am proud to report that diversity is alive and well in my very own neighbourhood. On Sunday  B. And I were invited to call in at our neighbour’s house to join in the celebrations for his daughter’s wedding. When we arrived the party was in full flow around the edge of the pool. What a joyous sight. With temperatures well into the thirties the pool was full of bodies: black skinned; olive or white: with hair in straight flaxen spikes; luxuriant black curls; long dreadlocks  or braids tightly woven with multicoloured beads. Aged from one to eighty one, some people swam and played, sporting swimming trunks,shorts, burkinis and bikinis. Other guests relaxed in the shade, where again diversity was rife. People’s clothes ranged from khaki shorts(B.) and torn blue jeans to long flowing dresses ,turbans and shirts  in colourful African fabrics. As we toasted the new couple and sampled their  delicious wedding cake, it was a feast for the eyes, and a worthy counterbalance to that depressing report from 'SOS Racisme' that was to  follow  later this week.

Racial discrimination is at the heart of my new novel ‘Because You Were There’ which will be published next year by ‘Cranthorpe Millner.’ It concerns Tina, a member of ‘The Windrush Generation,’ and the shameful treatment that she  experienced in Britain, both as a child and as an adult. But just as  my neighbour’s party brings  hope for a better and fairer future , so does Alice, Tina's bright and confident ten year old granddaughter. I think you will like her if you read my novel. And do you know what? I think I spotted Alice  in the pool on Saturday . She was the one with the beads in her hair and the most radiant smile of all.

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