A Story by Peter Rogerson

We've had an addition to the family, and its the sort of thing that sets a fellow thinking...


Doesn’t everyone love a baby? My youngest daughter Katie, bless her, with the assistance of her partner Fraser, has produced a brand new baby. He’s a good looking young fellow, seems to be at ease with being born, and by the looks of him really enjoys having his eyes shut. But he’s got me to thinking because I know that stuff is going on behind those closed eyes.

If you think about it, a human being’s brain is quite a complex affair and in order to work efficiently needs to understand quite a lot of even more complex things, like his environment, the odd people who coo at him, the sounds they make, the colours of their flesh, the touch of their fingers, the very smell in the air when things are being done in the kitchen, the flavour of the things shoved into his mouth, a n****e here, a bottle there…

There’s an awful lot there to come to terms with.

And then, sooner than you’d think, there’s the gradual osmosis of things important to the society he’s been born into. He needs to know stuff about that or he’ll stick out like a sore thumb and risk being labelled stupid.

We all did it. We all absorbed a huge quantity of material that may or may not prove useful to us during the years that lie ahead. I guess what might surprise us is to try and work out those things that our baby brains took on board and classified as absolutely essential but in the future had to be weeded out.

Now this is from my own experience, and if I’ve weeded out something you find to be precious then you must forgive me. Because it’s not precious to me and in my folly I’ve discarded it.

At the top of the list is religion. I was brought up in a God-fearing house in which certain truths were held to be absolutely incontrovertible and using the Lord’s name in vain was tantamount to suicide. Like Adam and Eve. Like let there be light and there was light, like a virgin birth, like … I could continue, but you get my drift, I hope. Because a story’s old it doesn’t have to be true.

Bit by bit and sometimes regretfully I weeded them out because I worked out what they were: tales told for thousands of years to every generation born, tales with no actual foundation in fact. But I’m a magnanimous sort of guy, and if you have the sort of faith that prompts you to seek logic in the illogical and consequently still believe old stories (after all, they’re still printed in the best selling book ever) then I don’t mind.

But other stuff needed to be weeded out as well.

Like the absolute certainty that the coloured races are inferior. I’ve covered this elsewhere, but it needs repeating. My mother (from the time I reached four and my father sadly passed away she was a single mother with two boys) was a pretty even-headed and fair minded woman. I loved her. And yet somehow she was unable to stop the racial osmosis of doubt and distrust of faces that weren’t white like mine. And because I lived in a midlands town dominated by an important public school, and met few coloured people, I saw little if anything to reverse the false opinion that was being, bit by bit and syllable by syllable, foisted onto my growing brain. When I was at college I met two African lasses and they proved to me that something in my education had gone wrong because a) they were brighter than me and b) they were cracking to look at, and at the time I was happily engaged to a white girl.

So that was misinformation that had disguised itself as incontrovertible truth and tucked itself inside my brain amongst other prejudices that I thought were anything but prejudices.

Like Germans and just about anything German.

True, there had been two world wars and, rightly or wrongly, the world saw the Germans as the baddies. There had, no doubt, been endless attempts at lampooning the jack-booted enemy as anything but human, and, yes, you’ve got it, my old chum osmosis came in handy when false prejudice found a home inside my head. In truth, as an adult in my later years, I have been to Germany, interacted with Germans and generally liked them. In fact, I prefer many of them to some of my own countrymen who I see as boorish and mentally blind.

Then, as I weeded out stuff that I decided was wrong, I came upon the biggy.

Teachers had done their best. Inspiring lessons had shown me that the biggest bonus to the entire planet was the glorious British Empire. It had taken civilisation and God to dark corners of a dark continent.

Wrong! It had enslaved many thousands of poor souls, carted them off across half a planet in overcrowded ships, sold them to a life of poverty and punishment, and back home had taken what it wanted from that same dark continent until it couldn’t take any more.

And yet I sometimes hear the notion that what the world needs is the British Empire back, that would make things all right, that would.

Tommy Rot, of course. Unless you want a future based on theft and cruelty and the wisdom of bullies.

I could go on. But I won’t. There’s got to be something left for another day. But if I have a message for little Denver with his eyes shut, it’s be careful what you absorb into your growing brain because a lot of it is so much crap.

© Peter Rogerson 22.07.21

© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 22, 2021
Last Updated on July 22, 2021
Tags: birth, baby, osmosis, prejudice


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..