Hollie McNish is a poet based between London, Cambridge and Glasgow. She has two poetry collections, Cherry Pie and Papers, and an album, Versus. In 2016, Blackfriars published Nobody Told Me. In 2017, Picador will publish her third poetry collection, as yet untitled. Her work is currently being featured on television as part of a national advertising campaign
I find it strange when people complain about foreign people in the UK so much
and ignore all the foreign stuff that we use.
I find it strange the way we treat foreign people and families so differently than the way we
treat foreign money or products or food,
Let foreign ships sail to our shores filled with things we can take
But turn them away if the foreign people who make them want to come too.
I find it strange we’re ok with chewing on foreign food
Chinese carry out bags and Indian too,
kebabs and pizzerias and foreign tropical fruit juice.
We’re ok with eating foreign sugar cane sugary treats,
Munching on foreign cocoa bean chocolaty sweets,
Complaining between every bite about the foreign folk down our street.
We’re ok with wearing foreign clothes,
Stuff we love to buy cheap because foreign wages are so low,
Our whole household comes from Shanghai and Tokyo and I know,
that we’re ok with driving foreign cars, so fast,
filling up our buses with foreign petrol piped from their parts,
foreign heating gas extracted by digging up their plants,
watching foreign TVs as we sit on our starts complaining to each other about the foreigners in
our kid’s class.
We’re ok with going on holiday to a foreign beach,
lying in foreign sunshine,
swimming in foreign seas,
sipping sangrias and Cuban cocktails much as we please.
We’re ok with using foreign places to get away from UK rainy days,
watching programmes on TV showing British families as brave,
buying cheaper foreign properties and showing what they save,
we’re buying up entire Polish villages for English resorts and greasy spoon beach breaks,
complaining in Spain there’s no ketchup with the chips and covering Ibiza’s shores with booze
and teenage sick as we complain about the foreigners that come to us to work and live.
We’re ok with buying foreign goods we love to from abroad, then dumping all our rubbish on
foreign people’s shores,
filling foreign landfills over-spilling with our household cans complaining about the foreign
people with accents we can’t understand
and how our British culture is being killed by the foreign man
and all the foreign families
While we keep eating our Ugandan chocolate treats,
Keep watching our Chinese TV, our Korean MP3, our Taiwanese DVD,
posing in our Indonesian jeans,
going on holiday in our Spanish seas,
biting down on our scones and jam and cream,
sipping at what we proudly call our English Breakfast tea, forgetting as we sip that those are
Indian leaves, made from Indian seeds, shipped across in ships that sail from Indian seas.
So please, do not tell me foreign people are a burden to our economy, I feel it’s time we sipped
a little bit of our hypocrisy and thought about how differently we treat the nationality of
Foreign money, products, goods and food to
Foreign people and their families.
A poem for Europe is edited by Briony Bax, Poetry editor.
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