How war in Ukraine means a Westside worker is pretending not to be a Russian

Putin’s invasion has Westside business leader MIKE OLLEY thinking about nationalities, and hoping that peace comes soon so that everyone can get back to being pleasant to one another and not hiding who we are.

It’s difficult not to notice that a mere 1,760 miles away from Birmingham in Kyiv a desperately unjust war is taking place. It’s equally unmerited that in our modern world it should be against the law to call a war a war! Bizarre, but that is the reality.

We live and work in a cosmopolitan City. I count amongst the best of my pals people from the Mirpur. Half my own kids are of mixed race. My wife, whilst born and bred in Erdington, her folks hail from the parishes of St Catherine’s and Portland in Jamaica.

Indeed, I myself am the offspring of immigrants. My lot came over in 1066, in a gang of about seven to ten thousands and took the entire country over. Been in our governorship ever since. Truth is we are all (mainly) a bunch of immigrants.

Our hospitality sector is heavily populated with staff from many corners of the world. I was chatting the other day with one of them. A delightful young lady, known her for a few years now. As we chatted, she mentioned she was Polish. I thought: “Polish, the accent isn’t what I expected.” I gently questioned her a tad further and it turned out she in fact is Russian.

This saddened me to think that someone I have known for some time now has to currently hide behind their birth right. I think I understand why that is. But it makes me feel sad.

It’s not as if she is a threat to national security, not one of the marauding military currently killing Ukrainians. Just a very pleasant and very innocent person making ends meet by working in hospitality. Ensuring we are all well looked after when we are out and about.

She is not the only Russian working in our patch. My heart goes out to them all. It can’t be nice being Russian in the UK at the moment. My heart equally goes out to those who the Russian military, under the command of President Putin, are killing in Ukraine.

Let’s hope this ridiculous warmonger is given a golden bridge to retreat over. Let’s hope he takes it and retreats back into his economically destitute economy. Let that happen soon so as to allow us all to get back to being pleasant to one another and not hide who we are.

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