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Dave Woodhall takes a sup in his favourite Black Country local and wonders why his fellow drinkers are so bitter.

I was in a pub the other night. There, that's shocked you hasn't it? And being the sort of Billy Nomates that I am, I was sitting on my own, reading the paper and watching the world go by.

At least, I tried to read, but I was distracted by the conversation that was taking place nearby. Three men in their early forties, maybe one was a bit older. The sort of group that's in every pub, every night. And the subject of their conversation is becoming typical as well.

"There's three should be shot straight away. George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and Derek Hatton." Derek Hatton? I couldn't work out why a man who's never had any political influence within eighty miles and none at all for almost twenty years should arouse such feeling, but I didn't feel like pointing that out. And so it went on.

  • All Londoners have to pay £10 to drive through London, but foreigners are exempt. In fact, foreign registered cars are allowed to park wherever they want.
  • Blacks aren't interested in anything they can't smoke, drink or fuck. Except the ones who are on a mission to wipe out the human race by impregnating white women
  • 'Pakis' sent scouts into white areas who move in then drive the whites out, creating ghettos.
  • Sikhs are buying up the countryside and especially buying farmhouses.
  • Indians come ‘over here' to have operations free.
  • The unions are (still) hell-bent on destroying the country.
  • The Masons are powerless to do anything about it this time.

Footballers, newspapers, the BBC, television in general and America also came in for heavy criticism. In fact, in the half an hour I was idly listening to these three, they seemed to like nothing, enjoy nothing and all have generally miserable lives. I've also got no doubt that if a BNP activist had been around, his party would have signed up three new members on the spot.

And therein lies one of the great ironies of our society. As people get better off, they think things are getting worse. Many of what used to be the white working class truly believe that there's nothing for them and they're at the bottom of the pile when benefits and services are being allocated.

Meanwhile members of ethnic minorities believe themselves to still be the victims of both institutionalised and more informal racism. All of them are therefore ideal targets for extremist influence.

Rather than bemoaning their lot, those three blokes should maybe have counted their blessings. 25 years ago, they'd have quite possibly been unemployed. Fifty years ago they'd have probably been in work but would have had no foreign holidays, expensive electrical gadgets or fancy car - that's if they'd survived their Second World War experiences. And if that pub had been around in February 1907, there's a good chance that this unhappy trio would have been either old before their time or dead.

Rather than moan about what's wrong, let's appreciate what we've got. Let's make judgements based on our own experiences rather than on tabloid headlines and urban myths. Reject the hatemongers and let's enjoy ourselves.

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