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Lifestyle & Culture

Black People at the Lake….

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I love to travel and I have always had  wander lust  in my soul.  That’s why last week when a friend was generous enough to invite me along on a trip to the Lake District, I was thrilled!  It was a surprise and I only found out where we were going once we got to Euston station and then I could barely contain my excitement.  Of course I was also excited because my son goes to the University of Cumbria in Carlisle, which is only 24 miles from Penrith.  So we stopped in on him and cramped his style a bit. It was a fantastic trip and one I will remember for a long time. Even the rain couldn’t spoil our appreciation of nature, tranquility and beauty.

There was only a minor mar to this incredibly gorgeous time in a spectacularly gorgeous part of the country and that was the less than perfect treatment we received from the car rental company. It all went like this, you be the Judge:

My Friend:Hi there, we are here to collect a car we’ve reserved.

Car Rental Guy (white middle-aged, well-dressed, looking worried and a bit curious ): Yes, can I have your driving licence?

My friend hands him her complete driving licence, including the paper bit.

Car rental Guy: Do you still live at this address?

(Rather a curious question, considering the convention that a driving license always has your current address)

My Friend: Yes

Car Rental Guy: Do you have any other form of ID in case you fail the address check, because I’m going to do an address check?

My friend and I exchange glances rather shocked and appalled as she rummages through her rucksack.

My Friend: No

Car Rental Guy: What’s your Post code?

My friend reels off her post code, even though he has the driving license in his hand with the post code on it.

Car Rental Guy (with a bright smile): Okay that’s all gone through now.

Is that relief on his face?

To be brutally honest, my friend and I couldn’t help wondering if we would have been asked such questions if we were a couple of middle-aged white ladies.

Of course, this experience is not uncommon for black people, especially in areas where we are not seen that often.  We got curious, mostly friendly, looks everywhere we went. It even reminded my friend of a time when she went on a trip to Angelesy in Wales and a child said  to her parent, ‘Mum, why are their faces brown?’

I think part of the reason we are ‘novelties’ in places such as the Lake District is because we don’t go to places like that often.  Travelling broadens and educates the mind and as we are exposed to different cultures, ways and customs, so too do people get more used to our brown faces! So get trekking brothers and sisters!


About Gillian King

Passionate about being black, British, Christian and a Londoner,(not necessarily in that order). Other passions flow from this, football, politics and smiling! I write what I'm passionate about.


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