Peculiar People

When Margaret Hodge sadly dies and goes to her Jewish heaven – will it be for Jews only? I don’t know, but that would tie in with Netanyahu’s present plans for Israel – I predict that God is going to be very cross with her, in view of her shoddy libels on Jeremy Corbyn as ‘anti-semitic’. He (capital ‘H’)  may well be cross with Netanyahu too. I hope so. Luckily not all British Jews go along with Hodge, or with the Israeli Right. I was impressed with this interview with Michael Rosen recently: That just about lays it on the line to her. Let’s hope that the majority of Labour-leaning Jewish voters takes heed.

I’m not Jewish, though I sometimes wish I were: anything but boring old Anglo-Saxon. But I’ve had experience of an ‘exclusivist’ religion quite like Judaism. My paternal grandmother was a member of a (Christian) church in rural Essex called the ‘Peculiar People’: ‘peculiar’ in this context meaning something very close to ‘chosen’. It’s on Wiki: She used to take me along as a boy to services: I must recount my experiences there sometime. (They were quite weird.) Luckily Grandad and my father were Methodists, which was the tradition I was brought up in. But not before I’d grown to be uncomfortable with sects that only looked after their own. Or which wanted to create communities made up only of their own sort.

Multiculturalism may have its problems; but its influence is generally enriching. What would Shakespeare have been if he had not moved from boring monocultural Warwickshire to the colourful cosmopolis that was 16th-century London? Or Elgar, without his German Jewish friends? Or even little me, without the stimulating experience I had of living in a very multinational society as a graduate student at Cambridge?

That society included a few Jews of all sorts. They immensely enriched the culture of the rest of us; together with the Africans, Latin Americans, Asians, and even the North Americans. How dare the Israeli exclusivists want to keep all that for themselves?

Which takes us some way away from the awful Margaret Hodge; but that’s maybe not such a bad thing. British politics – and the Labour Party in particular – would be better off without her.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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2 Responses to Peculiar People

  1. Phil says:

    You should definitely write about the PP. My mother was brought up in the Plymouth Brethren – thankfully for her, a fairly lax strand of the PBs which didn’t (for instance) ban cinema or forbid any social contact with outsiders – but I think she only ever told us a couple of stories; I certainly only remember a couple now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Peculiars got into trouble when I was tiny because of their stance on medical intervention. A little girl died because her ‘Peculiar” parents wouldn’t sanction a blood infusion. The scandal apparently raged in the tabloids; after which they changed their name to the ‘New Evangelicals’. But my Grandma still referred to them as ‘the Peculiars’. The thing I most remember from the services was their practice of ‘public confession’: you had to confess your sins in front of the entire congregation. One woman went up every week and confessed a plethora of sins – usually of a sexual nature – that she couldn’t possible have fitted into a week. The Church hadn’t allowed for exhibitionists. It was a great education for the 7-8-year-old me.


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