WITHIN the context of last week’s Dispatch story about the arsonists who set fire to the Warren Riding Club at Annesley, I have grave concerns with regards to the in-depth psyche behind the attack.
Words were loosely phrased, and almost nonchantly passed-off, to suggest that this attack was inspired by recent events in the riots, and that these ‘children’ were merely copying the events that were played out before them on television.
Is this really that easy to swallow? Can we readily digest the realisation that our children wish to copy and represent a world of mindless thugs, and are easily inspired to be criminals, with little concern for the wellbeing of others? If this is the case, I don’t believe Parliament, the police, or our schools have really taken into consideration what this actually means for the future of our country.
Has anyone, with any significant influence, deliberated with any complexity exactly what is required to change the way people behave in this country? We will need a dramatic shift in incomes, housing, education, families and marital relationships before any sort of morality can be restored to our streets — if morality ever existed. To think that we can confidently pass these matters on to the authorities is as good as walking away from the problem, not towards it.
I see that the immediate resolution at Annesley is to use the customary telephone number for Crimestoppers. This obligatory relief, to be able to put the problem into the hands of the professionals, who should investigate and thwart further attacks, is nothing more than a gimmick. A weak refuge of appeasement for the public. A temporary measure of justice.
The term ‘Crimestoppers’ would suggest that the police are the organisation to stop crime. If anything, they exasperate the situation because they offer little moral value and fail to provide any significant regime of rehabilitation.
It’s already too late. The crime, like thousands of others this week, is already a manifestation in the minds of those wishing to inflict harm on others and wreak havoc. The damage is already out there. The pain, the inconvenience and disappointment is now incandescent — literally in this case.
If we look at the root cause of the problem and the tiny, infinitesimal depravities that exhibit the wrongdoing in our society, is the image of the riding club actually partly to blame?
It would be insane to suggest that the innocence of a riding club deserved such an attack. But what does a riding club stand for in real terms?
I recall being denied access to the West Bridgford Tennis Society in the late 1980s because of its strict rules on clothing and, more recently, to a golfing establishment, run by a pompous Sergeant Major who still thinks golf courses should be void of a ‘Y’ chromosome.
These sort of establishments may advertise that ‘all’ are welcome but can everyone really afford such privileges as ponies and weather-proof golfing trousers?
Are envy and jealousy the sins of the deprived child or are greed, smug satisfaction and a lack of empathy the sins of the children who want for nothing?
My own, perhaps ignorant, perception brings forth the idea of riding clubs being accessible via upper-class societies. Bourgeoisie business-owners tacking up at weekends and chasing foxes through acres of beautiful countryside before boasting of slaughter over sherry, cream teas and hog roasts in front of open fires in village retreats.
The likelihood is that this riding club is nothing of the sort. But is everyone welcome to find out if they immediately feel that they don’t belong? Alienated by wealth and status?
In our youth, we don’t recognise the birthright of a privileged life. We recognise a lack of fairness, the haves and the have-nots. This is why the Jobcentre remained virtually unscathed during the riots.
Despite the Jobcentres being government facilities for the weak, these are seen as the bastions of benevolence and empathy. As in this case, the kids wouldn’t have set fire to a cheap tuck-shop or the free youth-centre. They set upon an image, an effigy that represented the antithesis of themselves. Bored, lonely outsiders with only one way to make their mark in an upper-class world.
We are ashamed to think that whoever did this — if they are copying events of an anti-social nature — doesn’t have aspirations to be an artist, a show jumper, a doctor or scientist. But they have a desire to be disruptive and self-destructive, admiring thugs and gangsters over men and women of knowledge, virtue and achievement.
Once again, we will blame the parents — and the parents will claim to be devoid of any blame, the virtue of parenthood, purveyors of truth, honesty and morality, while sitting in front of dull television shows, smoking Lambert and Butler cigarettes, eating chocolate and colourfully cursing because of another failed week on the Lottery.
It is a fact, regardless of any political regime, that abnormal behaviour is — more than 90% of the time — due to a lack of love, affection and attention from both parents. However, despite all the care and attention in the world, today’s inequality is the frustration of tomorrow’s retribution.
If we feel part of something, if society belongs to us, we are unlikely to destroy it. What world do the arsonists feel they belong to?
SHAUN WILLIAMS (aka Chooch),
Polperro Way, Hucknall.