'We don't like your sort here'

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The Independent Online
A couple of years ago, while driving for a Liverpool haulage firm, I was down on the South Coast, somewhere just outside Bournemouth, writes Jegsy Dodd. It had become apparent that I wasn't going to make it back that evening, so I looked for somewhere to sleep. I saw a small bed- and-breakfast and parked directly opposite.

The door was opened by a woman in her late forties or early fifties. "Come in out of the rain," she said in an almost flirty way. But before I had a chance to discuss prices or check rooms out, a man appeared. He said: "Excuse me, sir, is that your van outside with the 051 number on the side?"

"Yes, if it's blocking the way I'll move it further up the road if you like," I replied.

"No, don't bother," he said. "You're from Liverpool, aren't you?"

"Well, Birkenhead, actually."

"Well, you sound like a bloody scouser to me. Look, this is a nice place and we don't have scousers here, that's the rules."

I was stunned. I didn't raise my voice or fists, I just raised one eyebrow in a Roger Moore way as he asked me to leave.

Later that night I found somewhere nice and hospitable to stay. As I drove home next day I couldn't help thinking of the discrimination I had encountered. If I were black, Jewish, Irish or whatever, there would have been avenues for redress, but for scousers there is none. There is no law against this abuse. There isn't even a name for it, unless you want to call it scouseism.

I'd forgotten this incident until last summer when I had the misfortune to meet someone similar. I was returning on the boat after a lost weekend in Amsterdam. I queued at the duty-free shop as people from all walks of life bought their booze and fags. When it came to my turn, almost as soon as I spoke my money was held up to the light and then checked on a scanner.

When I asked why I was the only person in the whole queue to have their money checked, the fresh-faced kid who couldn't have been more than 20 said: "Yes, sir, but you know what scousers are like."

I said: "No, you tell me what they're like?" A bit embarrassed, he said: "Well, you know they're all robbers, I don't mean you, sir, but the rest of them." Absolutely unbelievable. I can't repeat what I said.

Where did all this start? In the Sixties everybody loved Liverpool, it was the centre of the universe. Now we seem to be bottom end of the food chain. Something has gone wrong somewhere.