Peter Rhodes on bullying, Scotland's future and something rippling in the dark

A sports reporter, stressing the smallness of Qatar, told his readers that the state was “smaller than Yorkshire.” I am obliged to harrumph noisily and point out that there are more acres in Yorkshire than words in t' Bible.

Gianni Infantino - not such a wally?
Gianni Infantino - not such a wally?

The Fifa boss Gianni Infantino was dubbed the World Cup Wally after that impassioned speech in which he empathised with black, disabled and gay people because he had been bullied as a kid for having red hair. Let's not dismiss him out of hand. Let's heed his words.

For the global chorus of ridicule Infantino faced tells us much about how adults react to childhood bullying. The tiniest difference between one child and the rest of the class can bring ridicule, humiliation and violence. And what always makes bullying worse is adults who, having seemingly forgotten their own childhoods, fail to comprehend that the issues they dismiss as trivial can be massively distressing to kids.

When I was six and my brother was eight we moved school. Our difference from the herd, as we tried to adapt to new surroundings, was that we spoke with a different accent and, being raised as Methodists, did not understand the rituals of a CofE school. It was a small difference but enough to bring on the bullies. We both had a hard time. It may have been significant that the one friend I made was the only black child in the school. Being six, I didn't analyse it much at the time but with hindsight I guess the reason she and I became chums and talked so much to each other was a shared sense of what the experts now call “otherness”.

Incidentally, at what age do grown-ups start telling kids that if you stand up to bullies they will run away? There are lies, damned lies and bully-advice lies.

Moving on, I had a friend who suffered from night-time flatulence which he called Rippling Duvets. I was reminded of him when it was announced that Harry and Meghan had won a human-rights award called the Ripple of Hope. May it bring them much relief.

There can be only one conclusion to the Supreme Court ruling that Scotland cannot have its next independence referendum without UK Parliament approval. Scotland? We own it.

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