Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

If I Had a Teddy Bear I Would Call It Barbara Moses Vishnu Weinstein So Everyone Would Be Happy

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

If I Had a Teddy Bear I Would Call It Barbara Moses Vishnu Weinstein So Everyone Would Be Happy

Article excerpt

Who says Muslims don't have a sense of humour? Recently, I compered a comedy show for the Newcastle Pakistan Cultural Society, and it took place ... in a brewery. In Gateshead. I was greeted by Mr Sanam, a Pakistani version of Jeremy Paxman, who in a Geordie Pakistani accent with inflections of Birmingham greeted me: "Asalaam aleikum pet how ya doin like?" He then interrogated me as to why I'm still not married. He had a friend whose friend had a sister who had a cousin who was available and all arrangements could be made within a week.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Mr Sanam seemed very nice, but a little confused about the modern day. "What does he look like?" I asked about the potential suitor. "Oh, he's very good-looking. If you would like to see a picture of him, there's one on eBay."

The decorative attire of the venue caused me further amusement: the stage was lit up with two large Christmas trees, each with a fairy at the top--one black and one white. Integration and assimilation were well under way in Gateshead, but I didn't realise the extent of it until dessert arrived. It was halal Christmas cake with 40 lashings of custard. Yum yum. And the only bears in sight were in the crackers.

By the exit doors sat a Geordie Pakistani Father Christmas with a big black rucksack full of presents, wearing a black beard, moustache and monocle. He had a name badge with "Geoffrey" written on it and three stars. He had obviously passed all his integration exams and was now a fully fledged British Father Xmas.

My father's name is Mohammed--which he abbreviates to Bob. My mother's name is Sarwat, which she abbreviates to Sharon. John and Helen next door are getting very confused, so we've abbreviated their names to Iqbal and Perveen.

My parents have never received hate mail or death threats accusing them of "coming to this country, stealing our names, disrespecting our culture". …

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