Two straws in the wind illustrating today's society
I am crossing the A4 at Barons Court with several other pedestrians. A young boy on a bike cuts across the road, ignoring the red light and nearly collides with a man just ahead of me. The man makes a remark to the boy. The boy swears back at the man, impugning his sexuality. A woman supports the man. The boy rides off still shouting abuse. (Wed 11 May)
Bluewater Shopping Centre announces it will ban young men (or perhaps anyone) wearing baseball caps or hoods. (Thu 12 May)
These two seemingly unconnected matters do go together. People seem more aggressive to others, much quicker to get their retaliation in first, then I seem to recall from my younger days. We associate this behaviour with kids, particularly kids who ape American fashions and think that walking round in gear that 40 years ago would have been seen as nerdish is somehow cool and makes them hard-looking.
Blimey, you're thinking, Ol' Ruislip Commuter is turning into a reactionary old fogey. Any second now he'll be going on about things were better when Mussolini ran British Rail and boys fresh from the chimneys did 10 years National Service in the Australian Outback. But you would be wrong.
I hate uniforms of any kind and I hate antisocial group behaviour. Kids in gangs always play up and do things they would never dream of doing on their own. Wearing clothes associated with US street gangs gives no encouragement to the rest of us to be tolerant. If you want people to respect you then you have to respect them. Do I feel relaxed when kids (or men) race bicycles on the pavement, often disregarding people walking? Of course not. Do I feel relaxed in the prescence of groups of young men wearing clothes that show they belong to a gang? No, I doubt if you would either, especially in a confined and isolated situation such as a Tube carriage.
No solutions, just observations. Now that T Blair (our temporary Prime Minister) is on the case, let us see what transpires.