Bradford’s Top Lad

Paul is (as they say in Yorkshire), a “top lad”. 

He was standing on the pavement, waiting for a friend to pick him up, so there was time to kill with some conversation. We got talking about Bradford, and what he thought about the fact it doesn’t make headlines unless it’s about ISIS or Zayn Malik (apologies One Direction fans). He said “No one thinks every Irish person is a terrorist because of the IRA. It’s the same for people living here. I’ve lived here all my life and everyone gets on.”

I asked him to tell me something interesting about himself, and he just said quite honestly “I’m bad.” I told him there’s good and bad in everyone, so he can’t be all bad. But because of his criminal record, he feels like he gets judged harshly, by people, by employers, by everyone. When it comes to jobs, he said every time he secured one through the job centre, it was only for a 3-4 month stint. After that, he’s left hanging without any income to pay his rent. 

Five minutes into our conversation, we attracted quite a few passers by looking our way. “They’re probably wondering what a white guy and Asian girl are having a conversation about in the middle of the streets” he said jokingly. I assured him that I had kick-boxing skills to defend us both, if trouble headed our way. 

When his friend finally called to say he was on his way, Paul said the following:

“There’s an Asian lass here taking my photo. You might want to come here and chat her up mate. Get your chest hair out so she can take a photo.”

At this point I quickly made my swift retreat. But I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.


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