Mark Andrews: Courtier may have been rude, but it wasn't violence

Had Ngozi Fulani accused Susan, Baroness Hussey of being ill-mannered, tin-eared and insensitive for asking her 'where are you really from', I think I would have been in broad agreement with her. It is certainly rude to persist with a line of questioning that is clearly making the subject feel uncomfortable.

Ngozi Fulani - non-physical violence?
Ngozi Fulani - non-physical violence?

But I do think she over-egged the pudding a little by describing it as an act of 'non-physical violence'.

How can you have 'non-physical violence'? It's like non-aggressive fighting. Or a normal working day at the Covid test lab in Wolverhampton.

Indeed, it seems 'violence' is a term which Mrs Fulani bandies about rather casually, particularly when it comes to the Royal Family. For example, in March last year, she wrote on Twitter: "According to clear definition, Meghan appears to be a survivor of domestic violence from her in-laws".

'Survivor' is another term which is also used far too often.

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The other surprising thing about Mrs Fulani's indignation is that in every picture I can find of her, she appears to be wearing some kind of African national costume. Indeed, she has written about how she proudly dresses to reflect her African heritage. She holds two university degrees in African Studies and founded a dance group to teach children about their African culture and heritage. Moreover, she attended the conference in question on behalf of Sistah Space, a charity she set up to provide support for domestic violence against women of African heritage.

I repeat, there can be no excuse for Baroness Hussey's rude and persistent interrogation. But Mrs Fulani hardly gives the impression of someone reluctant to talk about her background.

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Incidentally, I too can claim to have been on the receiving end of the 'where are you really from?' question.

Just over 10 years ago, when covering a national story up in Leeds, an elderly miner asked where I was from.

"I'm from Dudley," I replied in my dulcet Black Country tone, but the old collier was having none of it.

"Yeah, but where are you really from?" he persisted. A little confused, but realising he wasn't going to let it lie, I muttered something about the maternal side of my family's roots in the Yorkshire Dales.

"Ar noo it!" he replied, before asking what I knew about kids causing trouble on t'moor.

Not a lot, given that I had only arrived on the train an hour ago. The man appeared unable to comprehend that some people weren't from Yorkshire.

* * *

Trying to get hold of a long-retired former colleague, I mis-dialled the number and was greeted with the recorded message: "This is Professor Thomas. If you would like to purchase some marijuana, please press hash."

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