How offensive is the word pikey?

Today on the Radio 1 breakfast show Orlando Bloom, a British actor famous for playing  Legolas in Lord of the Rings, and paddle boarding nude with his then girlfriend Katie Perry, said “I’m still a pikey from Kent, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of me.”


Firstly Orlando Bloom went to England’s oldest private school and his dad owned a language school. Secondly the word pikey is highly offensive.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, its first use in print was in the Times in 1837, referring to strangers who had come to the Isle of Sheppey island to harvest. Later that century it meant a “turnpike traveller” or vagabond. But in more recent years it has become a term of abuse and in the eyes of the law using it can even be deemed a racist offence, given its association with Irish travellers and Roma Gypsies. In December 2007, at Lewes Magistrates’ Court, Lee Coleman, 28, admitted using racially-aggravated threatening words and behaviour after a row with a nightclub manageress. He had told her: “I’m not paying you, pikey.” Charlotte Brewer, Oxford University lexicographer, says the OED clearly labels it as an offensive term that came from the word “pike” meaning a road on which a toll is collected.

The BBC have been forced to apologise for Orlando Bloom’s use of the word. It is not the first time broadcasters have got in trouble for presenters or guests using the word. In 2008 Martin Brundle the Formula 1 commentator said: “There are some pikeys out there putting down new tarmac at Turn 10. Are they out of the way yet?” Whereas in 2015 the BBC defended then Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson for his use of the word Pikey in a long running gag with Richard Hammond.

top gear

Slang expert Tony Thorne says “pikey” was being used as far back as the 16th Century but has only become more offensive in the mainstream in the past four or five years.
“Teenagers have been using it for the last few years to replace ‘chav’. It’s used pejoratively as someone who is sub-proletariat like ‘gypsy’ or ‘gyppo’ was used in the 1940s and 50s.” Pejoratively means expressing contempt or disapproval, and sub-proletariat means working-class people all together (often used with reference to Marxism).

My advice? Don’t use the word. It has far too many offensive qualities. It is better to steer clear of.



There are so many different ways of protesting or trying to bring about change.

To protest (verb) – express an objection to what someone has said or done

If you decide to go out and protest then you can consider: signage, shouting, sit-ins, petitions, silence, marches, boycotts, putting your body in the way, mock awards, vigils, silliness, singing, praying or flash mobs. There are hundreds of other ideas on non-violent protest and sometimes you can do something specific to the cause you are protesting about.

This is what has recently happened in the Netherlands, where men are showing their support for gay men being able to hold hands and openly express their relationships. Over the weekend in the Dutch city of Arnhem there was a vicious assault of two gay men.  Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes suffered four missing teeth and a severed lip, whereas Jasper Vernes-Sewratan was left with injured ribs. Jasper said they usually hide their relationship, but had decided to hold hands as they walked home after a night out. Dutch politicians as well as celebrities are joining with other Dutch men to show their solidarity to the gay men who were attacked – by holding hands.


The politician Alexander Pechtold attended a meeting at The Hague with Wooter Koulmees a financial specialist.

hand in hand

hand in hand 3

Imagine you’re on a school trip and your Muslim teacher isn’t allowed to get on the flight because he’s Muslim

On 16th February Juhel Miah a teacher from a Welsh school was flying with students and other teachers to the USA via Iceland. Already one week earlier a court had upheld the decision to suspend President Trump from the US’s executive order temporarily banning the travel from seven mostly Muslim countries. So why was Mr Miah, a British citizen with only a British passport removed from the flight in Iceland and not permitted to fly to the US? Was it simply because he is Muslim?

A spokesperson from the Maths teacher’s employer Port Talbot council said: “Juhel Miah was with a party from Llangatwg comprehensive who travelled initially to Iceland en route to New York last week. Mr Miah boarded the onward flight in Reykjavik on 16 February but was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel. Whilst the school trip proceeded as planned, Mr Miah’s removal from the flight left pupils and colleagues shocked and distressed.”

The spokesman continued: “We are appalled by the treatment of Mr Miah and are demanding an explanation. The matter has also been raised with our local MP.”

It’s not all fine for people in the LGBT+ community

When Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour Party in the UK said that people ‘chose’ to be LGBT+ he was criticised, but a journalist writing for the Independent says Corbyn wasn’t being offensive. In fact after being called obscene names and given dirty looks for showing affection to his partner in public, he wonders whether many of the LGBT+ community would argue it is easier in the closet.

“The truth is, I have no idea why I’m gay, and while it would be nice to think that I was “born this way”, and genetic studies strongly suggest this may well be the case, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a “lifestyle choice”, to borrow a phrase that’s been thrown at me by religious friends.  Denying that it cannot be a choice devalues the experiences of those that have made such a decision, and adds an extra layer of discrimination that the LGBT community does not need. I’ve never met anyone that claims to have consciously decided to be gay, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”  Zak Thomas in the Independent.


Based on a HBO documentary called The Loving Story a new film at the cinema calling Loving tells the story of how on June 2, 1958, a white man named Richard Loving and his part-black, part-Cherokee fiancée Mildred Jeter travelled from Caroline County, VA to Washington, D.C. to be married. At the time, interracial marriage was illegal in 21 states, including Virginia.


Back home two weeks later, the newlyweds were arrested, tried and convicted of the felony crime of “miscegenation.” To avoid a one-year jail sentence, the Lovings agreed to leave the state; they could return to Virginia, but only separately. Living in exile in D.C. with their children, the Lovings missed their families and dearly wanted to return to their rural home. At the advice of her cousin, Mildred wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who wrote her back suggesting she get in touch with the American Civil Liberties Union. From there the story of the Lovings became public news.

“I wasn’t involved with the civil rights movement … only thing I know was what everybody saw on the news. … I wasn’t in anything concerning civil rights. We were trying to get back to Virginia. That was our goal—to get back home.” —Mildred Loving

The new film Loving has some good reviews  and reports on both sides of the Atlantic. It provides young people with both a lesson in the history of racism in 20th century America as well as a reminder of how modern intolerance and hatred can leave people in unfair situations, away from the home and loved ones.

Are boys getting more pocket money than girls?

I wonder if you ask your friends how much pocket money they get whether you notice a difference between the amounts boys and girls tell you. You should try it! Researchers at Childwise have found that in the UK boys aged 11 to 16 were on £17.80, while girls of the same age were on £12.50, a gap of £5.30.

The researchers also found that girls were given less financial freedom, “They are more likely to have things bought for them, including expensive items such as clothes and footwear, and lower cost purchases such as toiletries, hair products and makeup,” said Ms Ehren from Childwise. These extra purchases might help to bridge the income gap between boys and girls, but the approach to managing money matters was “noticeably different”, she added.

This all seems to show that the gender gap in pay starts young and that parents are educating boys and girls differently about financial matters.