Border Force Falafel. By guest blogger Marie la vie @ planteatingposts (Instagram)
A sour mood and sluggish appetite can often be remedied by the appearance of a falafel vendor in my long experience.
In this instance, the vendor was a big blue double decker – “The Big Greek Bus”, parked on Folkestone harbour, and selling take away under strict Covid-sensitive conditions. Also parked in Folkestone Harbour was the Border Force vessel “Seeker” – a big grey reminder of why my mood was so sour.
We are, of course, in the current political parlance, in the midst of a “migrant crisis”, although quite who it is a crisis for, is debateable. Folkestone, Dover, Deal and other points on the southern Kent and Sussex coast have seen a number of asylum seekers make the voyage from France in this clement weather. Various news crews have flitted about the channel in boats shouting at them, various politicians on either side of the channel have baited each other over them.
And, the serially-unelected (to parliament) Nigel Farage (not a falafel-eater I am certain) has taken his dog whistle and been photographed lying on the white cliffs of Dover in shorts, claiming to be on the “watch” for them.
The Big Bus’s offering seemed a little pricey – £7.50 – but the location was superb, and the sun was shining. The four fat falafels were unusual in comprising really big, almost whole, but very soft – chick peas, which worked really well. There was cucumber, tomato, and oddly, some French fries inside the wrap (bit weird), as well as hummus. There was no chilli or pickle, which the Bus lady said were not Greek, but then neither are hummus and French fries, but there was a nice fat slab of flatbread holding everything together.
As I gazed out to France past “the seeker”, I relived the events of the day before. Some young self-styled “patriot vigilantes” had, it seemed to me, taken Nigel at his word – and established themselves as a watch party of the cliffs a few miles north. When a boat of 15 Iranian and Indian asylum seekers arrived on Sunday, they came down and used various methods including intimidation, verbal abuse and a nasty dog to try to stop them landing. When the boat landed anyway, one of these patriots proceeded to physically kick, punch, and violently assault the first young man he could reach, yelling “It’s my country” at the crowd of locals, including me, who came rushing in to stop him. Another local man filmed the assault and was able to hand the evidence to the police.
The attempt to enter Britain across the channel, via Lorry or boat, has been going on for years. Last year 35,566 people claimed asylum in the UK — only an estimated 1,892 of those arrived in small boats. There has been an increase in the boat attempts this summer, and an increase in border force patrols and aerial searching. Good weather’s helped the smugglers finding more people from countries experiencing conflict hoping to cross. There are many things wrong with the state of both our laws and our discourse around our borders – as well as the vile behaviour of the criminal trafficking gangs preying on people.
But as I finished up my large meal, I wasn’t thinking of the right law or policy but remembering that young violent “patriot’s” furious face and his repeated cry of “it’s my country”, as he landed his blows. There were other vigilantes roaming around filming, and verbally abusing the asylum seekers, and they were loud and shouty. But they were not so righteously violent.
I’m not wildly optimistic that young attacker will be found and prosecuted, but I hope so. It’s a stretch to make a direct causal link between one young thug and a series of political statements and press photo opportunities. But it’s clear that as the crises of Covid and the economic slump continue to bite, the politics around migration are once again being thrown around as a distraction. It’s a difficult issue to get right, to respond to humanely and fairly. But we don’t need vigilantes and we don’t need the politics which deliberately targets them and their frustration and exhorts them to act. *editors note*
Importantly, without migration we would have no falafel in this country! In fact, the food situation would be very grim indeed. It is for this reason that we at Rate My Falafel. Com propose we open the borders and let them all in. Fill this land with the chickpea glory!
The Big Greek Bus Folkestone Harbour Kent
Rating; 3.5 out 5
VFM: Good considering the view and chunky bread.