A quirk of nature, and not genetic inheritance, has brought home to a young white Englishman the problem of being dark skinned in his own country.
GV BBC Centre London
MV Mr Tonkin
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 2: REPORTER: Mr Tonkin, when was the first time people began taking you for an Indian or a Pakistani?
TONKIN: In Dulwich hospital in the end of 1968.
REPORTER: What kind of reactions have you been getting because of this sort of thing. Can you give me some examples?
TONKIN: Well, I have been stopped in the street and called a wog.
REPORTER: Just by literally someone stopping and saying you are a wog?
TONKIN: Yeh, well the exact words I couldn't say again like. But I was just walking down the high street in Poole and a chap stopped me, and elderly chap he was, and he just stopped me and held me and called me a so-and-so wog, like, you know, and told me I ought to get back to my own country.
REPORTER: When instances like that happen are you very quick to explain that you are white? When you go into a situation where you think you may be taken, say a pub or something like that, are you quick to let it be known that you are not a Pakistani?
TONKIN: No, no. It would take too long to explain to people. If I think that anybody resented it I would just get out of the way quick.
REPORTER: Mr Tonkin, how much of an insight have you gained. You must have gained quite a lot of into the way coloured people in this country are treated?
TONKIN: Well, I feel sorry for all coloured people. There is no reason why they should be resented in anyway. It is only the fact of the colour of their skin that they are resented. It is not them themselves. It is not that they come from Pakistan, it is just the colour of their skin and while a lot of people know me from the past, you know, before I was ill and sort of appreciate the situation, you take people you meet for the first time, they can be bitter towards it. You take a genuine Pakistani and you know he has nobody on his side as I have quite a few people on my side to begin with.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A quirk of nature, and not genetic inheritance, has brought home to a young white Englishman the problem of being dark skinned in his own country. George Tonkin, aged 31, of Poole, a year ago contracted nephritis, a disease of the kidney. As a result his skin turned dark -- so dark that he now resembles a Pakistani.
Mr Tonkin told a reporter that as a result of the change of his colour he was now seeing the colour problem "from the other side". He said he had been called a "wog" and refused jobs because prospective employers believed he was a coloured immigrant.
Mr Tonkin seems destined to endure his new found problem for some time, possibly for life. Medical experts say that although it is not unusual for people suffering with the same disease as Mr Tonkin to undergo a change of pigmentation, it is unusual for them to revert fully to their normal colour.