Saturday, 4 October 2008

A City Shamed

It was with some trepidation I joined the blogging world with my first blog on the 16th April. I enjoy the fact that amongst other things it helps keep a sixty eight year old mind active. This is my sixty second blog and for the first time it a blog I did not really want to write.
Derby is a somewhat innocuous, nondescript city though it is famous in small ways for a variety of reasons. It is the home of Rolls Royce, one of the most prestigious companies of the world. Joseph Wright is a world renowned and greatly admired artist born in Derby in 1734. Herbert Spencer the Victorian philosopher was born in Derby in 1820. Dr Samuel Johnson, man of letters married in St Werberghs Derby in 1753. Samuel Plimsoll, Derby's Member of Parliament from 1868 to 1880 did much to enhance the safety of vessels at sea; so much so that he was known as 'the sailors friend'. Bess of Hardwick's tomb is in the cathedral and Derby County Football Club is internationally known though it has suffered of late.
A catalogue of events typical of the history of many a town and city in 21st century Britain. Events that I feel were overshadowed the day Derby's small claims to fame were replaced by a single act of hideous infamy.
On Saturday afternoon, the 27th September, around 2.30pm a young man climbed onto the railing at the edge of the Westfield Centre car park. At about 5.45pm the young man fell to his death; a sad event at anytime. What made this particular occurrence particularly horrifying was that it was witnessed by a crowd of onlookers whose reactions were, to say the least, mystifying.
That anyone by choice would witness the sad demise of a fellow human being defies any understanding. That some enjoyed the drama, to the extent of giving abuse and shouting encouragement to jump defies comprehension. Plus the amazing fact that some allowed children to witness the unfolding spectacle. Add the fact that some recorded events on mobile phones (in some cases later posted on internet sites) and you have a 'happening' that is mind bendingly beyond the understanding of normal people.
In the days of public hanging a mob mentality existed. It was a day out, an entertainment for all. The last public hanging in Derby took place in 1862. Have we not moved on from ignorant, uncaring times; seemingly not. For make no mistake, the actions of many bystanders was worse than those of long gone times. For we now live in the main in more civilised times. So what fuels these unthinking, uncaring fools? The word scum is an overused collective noun, but for once where these imbeciles are concerned I think it is justified.
One or two things come to mind then I will give these idiots no more of my time. Do these people now realise in the cold light of day that their behaviour was totally unreprehesible, totally unacceptable to the majority; I hope so. What causes such disregard for our fellow human beings, particularly towards those who find life difficult in the extreme. (Blame is usually directed towards too much alcohol or the fact that a diet of horror movies desensitises but no excuse carries any real weight.)
One further concern occupies my thoughts. In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie marched on London. Arriving in Derby he changed his mind and returned home with his rag tag army. Now the fact that it was near Derby that he turned back was irrelevant at the time. He knew nothing of Derby so it was not personal. But at the back of mind is the fact that the whole world seems to have read of Saturdays sad events. How many will now view the good citizens of Derby with contemptuous disgust. No matter that the majority are caring, concerned individuals. Presumably these awful events could have happened elsewhere but it would be wrong to say I hope so. Shaun Dykes, aged seventeen, rest in peace; you deserved better of the world.


Unknown said...

This is a very sad post. Heartbreaking. It does speak a great deal to the state of our minds as a nation. How could this happen? Heartbreaking.

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