Winifred Mandela Community Centre

Community centre

Unfortunately named sometime back in the late eighties, the Winifred Mandela Community Centre has always reflected the varied multi-cultural makeup of the borough of Walbridge.

Facilities are somewhat basic – a handful of function rooms used for nightschool classes, a central communal dining and socialising area served by a modest kitchen. To attract the young people and keep them off the streets, one room was remodelled as a games room, however due to vandalism and limited funding, the games consist of a single foosball table, a pool table with a noticably warped surface and a 1980s vintage “Defender” arcade machine with a faulty joystick that can’t turn left.

In fact all the facilities at the community centre have seen better days. Repairs and upkeep are largely done unofficially by the patrons on an ad-hoc basis,

The centre has one full-time staff member or “facilitator” employed by the Borough Council. Fortunately most people who use the centre simply ignore his well meaning attempts to “organise” things and pretty much run things themselves, often under the direction of one Patricia Bonair (Patty to her friends), a formidable West Indian lady of mature years.

The other patrons of the community centre are a mix of characters straight out of a painfully politically correct 1990s Channel 4 sitcom, with every ethnicity represented by at least one “lovable” character.

•The no-nonsense afro-carribean matriarch – (Aunt Patty)
•The Indian guy who runs a corner shop – probably called Patel.
•The Chinese old man whose son is the Takeaway King of East Walbridge
•The proud Jewish Mother who always talks about her son, the doctor and eligible bachelor – (secret, he’s a vetinarian and gay, both facts she edits out of her world view)
•The Irish street sweeper and odd-job man, for whom hygeine is just how you say hello to your friend, Gene.
•Magda, the East European old lady. She could tell some tales about escaping the iron curtain/nazis/whatever (delete as appropriate) from her homeland of… well somewhere in Eastern Europe.

You see no-one’s quite sure of her story or where she came from as she never speaks a word of English, with the exception of two phrases. “Bloody Foreigners”, a term she uses equally with all creeds and colours but especially with recent immigrants and asylum seekers… and “f**k off home”, her general purpose conversation ender when she doesn’t agree with the other person, especially if they are a “bloody foreigner”.

Despite never speaking English, she seems able to understand everything that’s said to her, and strangely enough, the other regulars at the community centre are somehow able to understand her Russian/Polish/Slavic/whatever (delete as appropriate) and often helpfully and inadvertantly translate her speeches for hapless visitors… e.g:

Policeman: “Have you seen anything strange recently?”
Magda: “Scrozna pikoor malekavnoskiya distroovya kant! Maskya noora di strenkya!”
Patty: “Why yes, Magda, that man you saw yesterday on the corner was acting suspiciously now, wasn’t he?”
Magda: “Bloody foreigner!”

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Winifred Mandela Community Centre

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