Enough is Enough!
S P Oldham
This is my little writer's blog. I try to stick to posts about my efforts at writing, with the occasional little insight into my private life, when it is appropriate.
But sometimes, you just have to speak up. Today is that time, as far as I am concerned. I know that not many people visit my little site. Perhaps that will change one day. In the meantime, I share the following with whoever cares to read it.
Enough is enough! A long overdue rant!
Lovely, on a Bank Holiday Monday morning, to wake up to the utter destruction wreaked by a few mindless morons out 'enjoying themselves' in the early hours. I wouldn't mind if I was talking about a bit of raucous singing as they wound their way down the street, or telling a few ribald jokes or saucy comments. Fine. Get on with it. But can someone please, in the name of all decency and consciousness, please tell me what is 'fun' about deliberately damaging cars, businesses and property?
Their bit of 'fun' is going to cost us and others hundreds of pounds in repairs. This time they haven't just pulled the cover off the wing mirror, they have pulled the thing off completely. Why?
I bet these same individuals would go ballistic if someone was to damage something of theirs in the name of fun. I bet they would rant and rail about not being able to afford to replace it. I am willing to bet they would be the first to leap to the pseudo-defence of this, their home town. That is the one thing that annoys me most. It seems to me that these people are so ‘protective’ of their home and their identity that they are positively insular, yet they are the ones continually disrespecting, abusing and demoralising it. Perhaps in defending it they are saying 'only we are allowed to treat this place and the people in it like shit.
You may think I have ‘gone off on one’ unnecessarily. Not so. This has been coming to a head for a long time. I think it is long overdue that someone speaks up.
I have lived in a variety of places all over the U.K and Europe. Five years ago we finally came home, to South Wales. Something we had always known we would do and which we had looked forward to. How sad then, that my own home land, my own country, was the first and only place where I have ever experienced prejudice, both at home and at work. We had things thrown at our windows and comments made in the first few weeks we lived here, because the perpetrators (kids I grant you, but who is teaching them this rubbish?) thought we were English, as if that would somehow justify their behaviour. I even experienced prejudice in the workplace.
What has that got to do with mindless vandalism, you ask? Well, aside from the fact (and given my first-hand experience I think it is a fact) that some people use it as an excuse for vandalism and worse, nothing much.
And so to the street; the street where, in the few short years I have lived here, I have witnessed more anti-social behaviour than in all my forty odd years in various places before. The street where I have personally witnessed, or my family members or neighbours have witnessed, in no particular order:
•Violence between supposedly grown men and between women
•Assault by men upon women
•Bullying and continued, prolonged harassment
•Frequent use of drugs, I quite often think Market Street should be renamed ‘Marijuana Street, given the ‘aroma’
•Children being provided with alcohol – proven and dealt with, I am pleased to say
•People drinking alcohol on the street
•Men and women urinating on the street. In one instance, a woman asked a man if it was all right if she sheltered behind his van to go for a pee. He agreed, so she went and dropped her knickers. She was standing outside the establishment she was drinking in! Use the bloody toilets!
•One man couldn’t even be bothered to stand still as he peed, he walked down the street with his zip undone, peeing as he went.
•Adults defecating on the street (on one occasion)
•Adults going in through the gate of my elderly neighbours house to pee up against his front door
•Arson and attempted arson – resulting in the cost and inconvenience of calling out the fire brigade repeatedly
•An apparently systematic dismantling of the abandoned hospital, resulting in all kinds of dangerous debris being littered over the car park, street, field and pavement
•Kids entering said building, sometimes via the roof. Only a matter of time before there is a serious incident there
•Vehicles driving the wrong way up a one way street, at speed
•Off road vehicles driving the wrong way up a one way street, untaxed, uninsured and usually un-roadworthy
•Off road bikes being driven up/down the pavement
•Dogs not only being allowed, but positively being encouraged, to soil the pavement, repeatedly and despite council warnings. Toxocariasis, anyone?
•Ridiculously loud music being played way past allowed hours and in direct contravention of agreed terms by certain local establishments, despite repeated warnings. Nothing real ever gets done about it – round and round we go…
•Teenage girls instigating fights in the middle of the street, including harassing elderly neighbours and picking on children – way to go, girls
•Ditto teenage boys
•Breaking into vehicles, or attempted break ins
•Deliberate and wanton littering. How people have the nerve to just throw their rubbish down and carry on walking, amazes me. Who do you think is going to clean up after you? Why the hell should they? Are you really so helpless and clueless that you can’t even put your own litter in the bin?
•Theft – I know this applies in a lot of places but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable, does it? Don’t expect to put out Christmas decorations or Halloween pumpkins for EVERYONE’S PLEASURE – oh no! We can’t go encouraging a sense of community now can we? No, much better for one individual to steal it and keep all the fun for himself.
•You can’t even put your bin out for fear of it getting stolen! My veggie bin was nicked, filled with paint and taken up the car park, for someone to smear all over the bays!
But never fear! Most if not all of this has been caught on the many CCTV cameras that now populate the street, due to the fact that the council have repeatedly refused to provide it as it is ‘not cost effective.’
I am not about to deride the police. It is not their fault that they are massively understaffed and underfunded. I am of the belief that they should be applauded for what they manage to achieve given the huge stress they are under as a service. As far as I am concerned if you want to blame someone for that, then blame this toxic, corrosive government. But the fact is we have reported many of the above incidents and nothing much ever seems to come of it, with one or two more serious exceptions.
This isn’t just a rant – it comes with a point I want to make and that is this: it is no good sitting around, lamenting about the state of the world or, closer to home, the state of the place in which we live. Unless we start standing up to unacceptable behaviour, unless we start telling people about it, until we start making people accountable for their actions, until we start taking some sort of respect in who we are, what we are and where we live, then nothing will ever change. The people guilty of this sort of behaviour will carry right on doing it – then cry ‘injustice’ if it is ever done to them.
Let’s start teaching, not just our young people but those of us who have somehow got lost along the way, something about self-respect and respect for others – most of what is done on our street is actually done by adults.
Let’s teach them that respect is something that is earned, not an automatic right. Let’s help them understand how having that sense of pride and respect can influence for the better our outlook on life and thereby, the world we live in. Let’s put some pride back in place before there’s absolutely nothing left to take pride in.
Let’s teach them that if you cannot show respect, then you have no right to expect anyone to respect you. Let’s teach them that there is a world of difference between respect and fear. Having the capacity to intimidate someone into something is not demonstrating how much respect is held for you – it merely demonstrates that you are a bully.
Let’s show people that no matter how bad things might get, there’s always a chance that it might yet get better. Let’s not drown under the despair and disregard that threatens sometimes to swallow the place whole. At the risk of sounding a little bit like Wolfie in Citizen Smith, let’s ‘Take Back Our Town!’ (Power to the people! No? Step too far?)
In truth I suppose a lot of the above could be said for a lot of places in Wales and in the UK as a whole. What a depressing thought. And of course, in some areas, far, far worse and depraved things are going on. Isn’t that a very good reason for talking about it though?
Is it really too much to ask, that we all play a part in rebuilding our own society, with a core sense of decency, history and integrity? It will be a very sad day indeed if that answer to that, is yes.
To say that I am profoundly fed up of the behaviour displayed literally outside my front window is an understatement. Here we are, on the doorstep to the Brecon Beacons, with Bedwellty Park, the jewel in Tredegar's crown if you ask me, just across the road, and this goes on day in, day out, unchallenged and unrectified.
And we wonder why we can't attract tourism, business and investment to the area.