Friday, August 11, 2006

Dear Dr Gibson,

Where do I begin, after your charming comments about people in Norfolk being "quite in-bred with many not leaving the county". Apparently "if you look at the names in Norfolk, there's a lot that are the same. There is an inbreeding complex in villages - people inter-marry. That might mean more of them have got the same gene which predisposes them to it". Where "it", from the context of the article, means obesity.

So we're in-bred fatties, are we, Dr Gibson? Are we congenitally stupid too? Maybe we have more than the average number of toes, as well.

There is a regular stream of insults aimed at our county - all the normal patronising city-dwelling crap: in-bred, country cousins, fucking our sisters, you know the stuff. Well, you should, given you're the Member of Parliament for Norwich North. This is coming from our elected representative. You should be glad we don't riot the way we used to.

You have a degree in genetics, haven't you? So have you ever wondered why geneticists go off to the Faeroes or Gozo in search of genetically distinct groups, rather than just pop up to Norfolk? Do you have any peer-reviewed papers showing that we are an isolated population?

Perhaps history isn't your speciality. Forty per cent of Norwich used to be foreigners (or "strangers", as we like to call them). Nine different languages were spoken here. We have Dutch and Danish words in our dialect - there's even a theory that the extreme regularity of our verb conjugation (I go, you go, he go) goes back to our immigrant populations settling on a simple, mutually comprehensible form. Great Yarmouth and Norwich were important trading ports, and there has been a centuries old flow of immigrants into our county - including your family and mine. Norwich was the second city in England, built on its wool trade. Kings Lynn was a Kontore of the Hanseatic League. We weren't always a backwater, and we were never isolated.

I see you were born in Dumfries. By a happy coincidence, some of my ancestors came from Dumfriesshire, and I've wandered around a good number of Dumfriesshire graveyards, staring at the endless lines of Johnstones and Irvines and Murdochs and Bells. In my experience, Norfolk graveyards have a larger range of surnames than your own backyard. Perhaps you should look in the mirror if you want to see inbreeding.

But it's not about science, is it? It's just narrow bigotry of the type which, if you tried shouting it in the away end at Carrow Road, would get you ejected from the ground. You hate the same people who have elected you to Parliament at the last three elections.

I think you've outstayed your welcome.


Anonymous Dick said...

I hope you're going to mail him this excellent counterblast!

11:06 pm  
Blogger Disintegrating Clone said...

Oh, I would, but he's been given a hefty slapping down by all and sundry. "Ian Gibson inbreeding" now gets 18000 pages on google.

Mind you, if he'd have been a Liverpool MP insulting Scousers, he would have been tarred and feathered and dragged through the streets on a cart.

We're just too mild-mannered, us Norfolk boys.

2:59 pm  

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