steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

Unsettling In

The area I just moved to has long had a large West Indian population. The St Paul's Carnival is a fixture, and its route goes past my house. There are handsome murals scattered around, featuring the local activists known as "Seven Saints of St Pauls." As someone who is almost painfully white (in culture no less than in melanin), I was a bit worried about being a fish out of water, or even resented as part of a wave of gentrification. As to the latter, it probably helps that my house was built on a disused car park: I've not priced anyone out of an otherwise-affordable home, at least. Everyone's been pretty friendly, and a bit curious about this new row of houses - which are indeed rather striking.

Today, as I was about to cross a local street on my way to town, a swish-looking limo drew up to the junction. The driver gave a couple of honks on his horn, which smacked more of "look at me!" than "be careful!" The impression of celebration was increased by the two large pink feathers that stuck up from front of the bonnet. Was this a birthday? A hen do? A wedding? It all seemed cheery and festive anyway, and I grinned at the people inside as they passed.

A few seconds later a second limo passed, also with pink fluffy feathers. Only this one was unmistakably a hearse. The deceased party's name was spelt out along the side in what looked rather like pink and white icing. After that, about twenty more cars followed. I belatedly recognised the feathers as a stylised echo of the plumes worn by horses in funeral corteges of yore. The people I'd been grinning at had of course been the grieving family.

What did they make of my expression? Perhaps they saw it as an attempt at encouragement at a difficult time; perhaps, more sinisterly, as undisguised glee.

The truth is of course that they almost certainly didn't give it a thought, but still, how mortifying.
Tags: bristol, real life
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