A Word In Your Ear - August 11, 2011

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I’VE always thought it strange the word ‘riot’ appears before ‘pint’ in predictive text. After the last few days I can see why that is useful.

I was going to write this week about how The Put Upon Wife took some queue jumpers to task at Lytham Proms. But bad manners at a pop/opera gig seem a little small fry now as English cities burn.

Ever since Saturday night I’ve been glued to the round-the-clock news coverage, and share the nationwide feeling of despair as another car, shop and community is attacked by baying mobs of Neanderthalic cretins who give sports casual a bad name.

Thankfully the riots have happened nowhere near my own home and business. Not so lucky was my good friend Jim the Gent who joined me at the Proms on Saturday. Well he joined me for two hours staring at Katherine Jenkins in a dazzling red frock.

Afterwards, over a tincture or two, he announced he had joined the Special Constabulary back home in Merseyside. It took me totally by surprise. After all I’m sure he coined the phrase “scarper Rhodesy, it’s the Rozzers” when we were at school.

Not that we were doing anything more criminal than pretending to pull an imaginary rope across a road just so cars would stop. Dangerous and childish, I know, but hardly on a par with torching Dixons. It seems Jim The Gent has decided it’s time to “give something back” and feels marshalling road blocks at village fetes is how he wants to give several hours of his spare time every month.

Good on him I say, for he got to see first hand the other night how the boys and girls in blue do their job as copycat rioting hit Birkenhead. Cars at the end of Jim’s road were set on fire as police raced to seal off the scene. I think incidents like this re-affirm his now very mature opinion he can offer something to his community.

Sadly, the yobs of Birkenhead – so far removed from the original problems in London – cannot say the same.

I’m sure there will be many great minds, talking shops and think tanks put together to try and work out why groups of youths decide to copy what has gone on elsewhere around the country.

The breakdown of communities, the reliance on the welfare state, education, jobs, the list of arguments already goes on and on.

For me, it is all about respect, and I do not mean the modern take on the word. I mean respect for your family, neighbours and communities.

It should be the easiest thing in the world to teach, but it appears many responsible for moulding kids’ futures – either at home and school – have failed.

It’s going to take more than Jim The Gent in a dapper uniform and a road block, but at least he can say he cares about his community. And right now that seems the most important thing.