Unimagined: It makes you think

Imran Ahmad recently asked me what I thought about his book Unimagined some time ago.
Well to be brutally honest - I really enjoyed it. My wife is reading it now and she is enjoying it too. I have some affinity with Imram - I grew up in the 70s too and remember The Saint, Space 1999 etc and all the stupid clothes we wore because they we thought they were be cool. Confession: I had a cardigan knitted by my mother in honour of Starsky from Starsky & Hutch. In fact I think she knitted it for my sister but I stole it. I must have been 10.
However, coming from Liverpool we had little contact with the Indian Diaspora - I didn't even eat a curry until I went away to university in Leeds.
Our main contact with any ethnic minority was the African community of Merseyside and I don't remember any ethnic tension at all. Although I do remember one friend saying I ran "like a nigger" - thought that was a compliment when I won the inter-school 400 metres! I was 14 so what did I know.
I think that the British-Pakistanis could easily place themselves at the centre of things by re-claiming the word Paki - Imran I would welcome you views on this.
Paki and Proud is a good rallying point. Or Brown and British and Sorted. I hope this doesn't sound trite as my business partner and me were thinking of doing an exhibition on this at the Art of Propoganda.
Everyone - let me know your thoughts. Imran we did it recently for David Pearce and The Damned United.


Imran Ahmad said...

Hi Ian,

Thank you for this. I was awaiting your verdict with nervous anticipation.

My first thought is: I never had a Chinese takeaway until I went away to University. It was beef in black bean sauce with green pepper, with fried rice, to be precise. I remember it well. It was such a huge and heavy quantity of food that it made me really slow and drowsy. My eating at home had been much better regulated.

But a more considered response I will give after I've done all my (work-related) homework this weekend.

Best regards,


Ian Green said...

Hi Imran,

"But a more considered response I will give"? - You sound like Yoda!
Look forward to hearing from you. My wife is currently reading the book now and no doubt she will give you a message too.
Kind regards

Imran Ahmad said...

Already Thursday it is and much work I have had.

Next thought - the word 'Paki.

Growing up, I was the only 'Paki' around, and the word, when I heard it, was always prefixed with 'f---ing' or used with the imperative to 'go home!' (I was always touched by their eloquence and originality). It was always a term of abuse and lacked the affectionate nuance of 'Aussie' or 'Pommie'.

Years later, I was shocked, on a work-related training course, to hear a colleague refer to 'Paki shops' (we were talking about consumer packaged goods distribution). Eventually it dawned on me that, in some quarters, it was just a short, lazy word, just like Aussie, and carried no intent to offend.

It's all a question of our neurolinguistic programming.

Ian Green said...


Good to hear from you - and I agree. A lot of the Muslims I know in Bradford refer to themselves as Pakis. In the same way some Brixton blacks call themselves Niggers.
It is hard for anyone who is white to offer any comment in this area - for obvious reasons - although I do remember being impressed by Elvis Costello singing about "one less white nigger" and "boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne" in Oliver's Army because as a working class boy growing up in Liverpool in the 1970s - that was us.
As I said if you would like to do an exhibition on the book let us know. We might be able to do a deal with Borders in Leeds.


Ian Green said...

By the way my wife really enjoyed the book but was a bit disappointed it ended so swiftly.
What's your next project?