Immigration given an intergalactic explanation
PUBLISHED: 14:36 26 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:15 28 May 2010
SATIRE is alive and well in the Fens, as this unusual letter from Peter Harvey of Walton Highway reveals. Mr Harvey, who has worked in Wisbech for many years, believes the immigration debate sparked by the comments of MP Malcolm Moss, can best be addresse
SATIRE is alive and well in the Fens, as this unusual letter from Peter Harvey of Walton Highway reveals.
Mr Harvey, who has worked in Wisbech for many years, believes the immigration debate sparked by the comments of MP Malcolm Moss, can best be addressed through an intergalactic explanation.
Mr Harvey invites us to climb aboard his imaginary space ship, and reflect upon the thoughts of would-be Martian 'invaders.'
In doing so, he offers a challenging, if a little different , perspective on the immigration debate.
The attached letter came into my possession rather mysteriously and in circumstances too strange to relate. It seems important though and was obviously intended for a wider audience so I though the best thing would be to let you have it.
Peter Harvey, Walton Highway.
Greetings Earthlings of Wisbech from your friendly, local Martian.
My name is Pe-Jho-Rah-Tif (although that's as near to a translation as I can get). You won't have noticed me of course (yes, we Martians are green and have antenna) but we can transmogrify into any form we choose and I've taken up the look of one of you. I don't speak with a local accent and tell anyone who asks I come from out of town so no problem. You have all been nothing but friendly to me.
Why am I here you ask? Well, I'm part of a reconnaissance party looking at alternative habitats for the overlarge population of Mars. Not a lot of people know it but there are 1000 million, squillion Martians who live underground on the big, red planet and we're running out of room.
We've looked at Pluto but the atmosphere there doesn't suit us although the people are nice and welcoming. Having said that, they're more than a little ****ed off with you lot after you downgraded their planetary status recently without so much as a by your leave in their direction. But that's another story.
Anyway, Earth is rather high on our list of possibilities and one option for us is to go for EU membership so we can have the legal right of entry like people from so many of the new European partner states.
It's true that your government has stuffed up over immigration laws (they didn't exactly inherit anything robust from the previous, Tory administration either!) but have you been to eastern Europe? One of your recent correspondents said Wisbech was like an eastern European country but I can only think she's never been to one. If I was from one of those countries and had the legal chance of living and working here I'd take it I can tell you. Wisbech for Martians every time!
Part of our Martian investigation is to understand the people here so I've been reading some of the recent letters about the immigration issue and they have raised a lot of questions in my mind.
First, what does your MP mean by saying Wisbech is at breaking point? It seems such a subjective term. I thought that maybe I'd have trouble buying bread or be unable to get an appointment with the doctor but amazingly, the day I read that opinion I managed both.
And are all the driving offenders around here really from eastern Europe? I had my car written off by a young man born and bred in Gorefield and I'm still arguing the toss with his Scottish insurance company. Do you think I should start an anti Scots campaign?
There is more that confuses me too. One correspondent complained of houses in multi occupancy and how they were destroying the local rental market. Well, we've been looking at many UK towns and cities and do you know, all those with universities have lots of properties in multi occupancy and many of the student residents are English! Also, one of my fellow Martians, Zen-o-Pho-Bea, arrived here only last week and we had no difficulty in renting a flat for him. Funny that.
One question though. Doesn't it take a landlord too before any property can be in multi occupancy? I've heard it said that some prominent local businessmen have been climbing on the bandwagon of demand for accommodation. Maybe it's just gossip though? Perhaps you can let me know.
Talking of neighbours, I see one of your correspondents had to move from Mount Pleasant Road because noisy immigrant neighbours were spoiling the quality of life. I sympathise. It must have been intolerable. However, it occurs to me that the neighbours were noisy AND foreign not noisy because they were foreign. And looking at Mount Pleasant Road, I can think of other reasons why it has difficulty in living up to its name that have nothing to do with foreigners.
The smell from the sewage pumping station for one thing. Down to Anglian Water. And one end of the road can from time to time look like a car breakers and repair yard. Is that pretty?
Language is a funny thing. Someone wrote in to say that all one seems to hear in Wisbech is foreign language. Or is it that all one seems to notice is foreign language, which isn't quite the same thing?
You see I've been speaking English for so long now that I don't hear other English conversation unless of course it's loud, coarse or interesting! But Polish for example I do notice because it's different. Just as perhaps English with an American accent would be different.
My Martian colleagues and I conducted an experiment. Some of us went to the supermarket and at the checkout spoke to the cashier and had a very pleasant chat. Remember, although we're Martian, we look and sound like you.
Then some more of us went to the same checkout but spoke Martian. My goodness, they got some very funny looks and frankly, the cashier was quite rude. You guessed it, same cashier. Pity really because you're really such nice people.
Oh yes. Jobs. This really confuses us Martians. Apparently the influx of eastern Europeans has meant there are no jobs for local students in the holidays. Now for one thing, all through your local history, seasonal jobs have been filled by immigrant labour. Not from eastern Europe perhaps but from outside Wisbech. A bit like Londoners going fruit picking in Kent. Second, how do those people get the jobs if local employers don't offer them? Doesn't this have two sides?
And I've heard of employers who insist on eastern European labour because of reliability. And if it's a question of cheapness then maybe it's also a question of exploitation. Or at least your TUC thinks so.
Are you racist? We Martians have been discussing that and we're undecided. The OFSTED inspection of The Queen's School identified evidence of racism amongst pupils there but where would the children learn it from? Presumably not the teachers?
If your MP, who seems to have started this debate, was merely raising a political point about immigration policy, perhaps he should talk to the students at Queen's School and explain the difference.
Especially so as Brakespeare has recorded that 90% of the respondents in an e.poll support Mr Moss. We Martians find the report surprising though.
We have been researching your world for some time and we are very careful to ensure our research is objective. Could Brakespeare then please let us know the details of the research sample so we can be sure it was representative and a sight of the questions posed would go some way to validating what otherwise can be called into question.
For example, it's no good asking 100 people if they are good drivers. You'd very likely get a 90% positive response to that one too!
Anyway Earthlings of Wisbech, we Martians are soon to report on Wisbech to Home Command. Can you help us?
Should we report Wisbech as a town open to new ideas and cultural experiences and one that is going places or should we just recommend it as the site for a services stop on the new intergalactic highway? Because we can you know. We can.
Your friendly local Martians.