Reading and rioting

Watching the news come in about the continuing riots in London, I’m minded to recall an old workmate. Someone I considered a good mate and tried to support (when he’d let me), but always ended up being his own worst enemy.

He ticked all the boxes. Mixed race (Anglo / African) with a chip on his shoulder that almost made you duck every time he turned around quickly. A lover of ‘Gangsta culture’. Yet behind all that he was a good chap. A mate, a buddy. Someone I was happy to share off duty time with. My family liked him, my dog liked him (But then again my dog likes everyone, he’d even give Hitler a manic waggy tail welcome). We all thought Dave (Not his real name) was a ‘good kid’. Just frustrated and rather unhappy.

His major issue from what I could see, was a problem with authority figures. “The Police beat up us black people.” He was often heard to say.
I did try telling him once; “Dave, the Police beat up everyone if they’re causing trouble. It’s part of their job.” But my words fell on deaf ears. He just couldn’t see past his own sense of personal injustice. Every single ‘oppression’ centred around his skin colour and predilection for getting off his face with beer and ganja. Which was his way of coping with ‘fitting in’, or rather not. He was kind of a part time ‘gangsta’, but too gentle natured to be one of the real nasty bastards.

Yet he wasn’t a total waster. A better man with dogs I’ve never seen. He often talked of his ambition to become a breeder. For all his wide boy street talk he was both literate and numerate, when he wanted to make the effort. Yet because of his own attitude and reluctance to put the joint and beerglass down, he’ll probably never realise his dreams. This means that every so often his frustration boils over into angry outbursts. Like a child, he will strike out without discrimination.

In this way I see ‘Dave’ as typical of the rioters down in London. Doomed to personal failure by their own self gratification and lack of self worth they hit out at anyone seen to be ‘keeping them down’. Cops, Business people, anyone ‘better off’ with ‘more stuff’. So they see no problem with smashing everyone elses stuff up. Yet if their awareness and aim was better they’d be throwing rocks at themselves.

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