Thursday, April 24, 2008

They say that travel broadens the mind. In my case, especially during these latter years, it's actually helped to do the opposite. It's narrowed it.
I've been held up with a gun; strip-searched by an over-zealous, German copper; THREATENED with a strip-search by a female, Norwegian Immigration Officer; attacked by a bottle-wielding thug in down town Hamburg and even locked up for six hours by the French Gendarmerie for alleged gun-running. Thorolf's encountered the bloody lot.
Apart from the broadening - or the narrowing - of one's mind, incidents like the ones above certainly tend to deter one from travelling. Let it be known that Thorolf is NOT a criminal or ever has been any kind of gun-runner. I don't take drugs and I don't smuggle booze. Hell, Thorolf doesn't even drink! A pretty boring sort of guy I suppose.
And yet, my travels have brought me into contact with some of the nicest people in the world - and some of the nastiest ones too.
Take the thug who tried to wound me with a bottle in Hamburg. His attack was a fairly weak attempt compared to English standards and Thorolf soon had the situation under control. The last view I remember was of him clutching his nose and mouth after I had kneed him in the face.
One of the nicest folks I ever met lived just outside Gothenburg, Sweden. Strangely enough, he wasn't a swede but an Arab. He was an immigrant from Iraq who was struggling to make a living from his little shop. His poor wife and little girl were ill upstairs unable to get out of bed whilst his assistant had been fired for stealing off him. During a deep conversation, his eyes welled up with tears as he told me of his troubles and the awful events which had befallen him, yet he still found time to help me in my hour of need.
The whole point to these stories is this: There are good and bad apples in every barrel and that by picking out a particular one, it should not cloud one's judgement upon the rest. It is an easy trap to fall into and maybe Thorolf has been guilty of it more than most during the past and sweeping statements about certain races, especially after a nasty incident, can only feed the appetite of Nazi sympathisers and extremists.
Am I being naive or did we fight and win a war against that sort of thing?

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