This incident happened when I was about ten years old but still puzzles me today, one of many ‘small’ episodes that show the everyday reality of living with racism.
It starts with three young girls, me, my sister and our friend, Angela, who just happened to be the only three children playing around the back of our flats in South London. Our ‘playing’ area was a grassy quadrangle overlooked by three blocks of flats, so as a parent all you needed to do was to glance out the window and you would easily spot your child.
On this occasion, we were busy jumping on and off the three bomb shelters, onto the earth, grass and sometimes glass, which is how I ended up with stitches in my knee, but that is another story.
We were messing about on the shelters and about to set off for home as dusk was approaching, when out of nowhere, or so it seemed to us two large Alsatian dogs appeared. They ran to the shelter we were on, barking and jumping up at us. Luckily for us, we had not quite got round to climbing down, and it became apparent that the dogs could not to reach us on the shelter. Once we realised this, we made the wise decision to stay put as we had never seen them before.
I remember we were quite frightened and perhaps a little excited by all the ‘hullabaloo’ and as the oldest, I took charge and told my sister and Angela that we would not be going anywhere until they were gone. I cannot remember how long the dogs stood barking and jumping up at us, but at some point, they just seemed to decide to move on and ‘disappear’.
Sensibly we waited for a few minutes to be sure they had gone and then on my command, the three of us bolted from the park and back to our homes. We were laughing and out of breath, by the time we got round to the front, and we still remembered to cover our ears as we dashed past the ‘earwig tree’, but we got home safely and just put it down to one of those things.
But, over the years, I have asked myself did those dogs get out purely by chance or was it something else?
I only wonder because we were the only three children in the park, at that time, and if it was deliberate, it might well have been racially motivated.
So, there you have it.
Until next time