I’m excited that tonight Lucy Ward and I will be at the Royal Festival Hall to see “Imagining Ireland” – a concert exploring the strong musical ties between the UK and Ireland, and specifically the impact of Irish artists, tunes and ballads on British popular music. This is a subject close to my heart.
During the 70s and 80s, growing up in London, I was well aware that relations between the UK and the Republic were extremely fraught. The newspapers and TV news bulletins, which I followed avidly, were full of hunger strikes, tit-for-tat killings and “the Troubles”. Those of us with strong Irish backgrounds, Irish names and features were often unpopular in London. We experienced prejudice – on top of the usual British class barriers. Name-calling, casual racism, blatant exclusion – stuff that these days directed at an immigrant community would cause outrage – were the norm.