Friday, 12 March 2010

Quiet Coaches - civic action in action

I regularly ask people to be quiet in the Quiet Coach on trains [e.g. not to speak loudly on their mobiles]. An obvious thing to do. But so few of us do it. [English reserve - and fear - at its worst] When we do do it, then it keeps the Quiet Coach quiet - which is as it should be!
To enable us to have some peace and quiet if we want it, to be able to concentrate; to avoid us all drowning in noise...
Civility in this country is in decline. That is bad news for us all - we should all, as citizens, encourage people to be public-spirited and to care about others' experience.
[Note: there suddenly seem to be a lot less Quiet Coaches on the train from Norwich to London. This is concerning me. Anyone else noticed this?]

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes spot on Rupert. I think the word decline isn't strong enough though. It's not just on the Quiet Coach, but busses, in the street etc.

Personally I think it is because no-one has confidence in their rights. I was the victim of harassment by youths, who were continually kicking a ball against the side of my home. Having spoken to them decently on several occasions, also pointing out where the local park was (a short walk away), they carried on regardless. They also made racist jibes against my housemates.

A day came when I confronted the children and their behavior. All I got was a mouthful, and threats. My neighbour to his credit backed me up, however one of the child's parents came out and told me not to go near his son because he had a heart condition. It escaped this moron that his son was instigating a confrontation! He promptly went back home to leave his son in the street to provoke me to his hearts content.

These children were calling me a pedo for telling them to go a play somewhere else - not something you really like to have shouted at you in the street. I have to admit to (internally) wanting to smack the little sods but if I acted on this, despite a long period of harassment it would be me that gets a record, loses my job and has my life ruined. So I did the sensible thing and called the local police and asked them for advice. They told me to go and speak to the parents, and so I did.

It was quite intimidating speaking to these people. If they had children so poorly behaved, I was honestly expecting some harsh language and a door slammed in my face. I was polite and respectful. I was surprised/relieved to walk away with a promise that it would stop. Fine.

A week or so later, eggs thrown at the house. Then, a brick from a skip is thrown smashing a panel on the door (costing me). Again I countered my anger and did the sensible thing - rang the council and got the skip removed. Later an Asian family moved in to a house on the corner and that weekend two of their windows were smashed.

I can't help thinking our modern approach is inadequate to tackle the youth we are seeing grow up today. Whilst some of the kids locally were friendly, the perpetrators were not. They were never dealt with before I left the area. I bet some will say they are just bored kids, ignorant through living in poverty, worthy of sympathy. I now find such a view pathetic. They were getting their kicks by bullying people, enjoying the immunity they know they have and feeling more powerful. From speaking to them at length I am of no doubt this is what it is about.

You hear on the news of people committing suicide or shooting youths with an air gun etc. Even teachers have cracked in classrooms. Sounds crazy but until you suffer something like that I don't think you can appreciate how maddening it can be. Particularly as the only lawful means available to you to address this are all SLOW in having effect (Diaries/Police/Council/Housing Associations etc). You have to have an inner strength to make it through the official process; the news has shown some simply (and tragically) do not have this. You never know when the next thing will happen, and when it does, all you have is words, against anything they choose to throw at you (literally).

If I saw people acting in an unruly way, I would still ask them politely not to. But you have to be careful because the law does not give you enough protection, and for this reason, no-one will come to your aid if the response you get is something worse than what you asked for.

Civility certainly is in decline. I'd like to know what encouragement you think I could've given the youths to make them more public-spirited. I can't help thinking they would laugh in my face if I tried.

16 March 2010 at 23:40  

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25. 26. Quiet Coaches - civic action in action 27. 28.

29.
I regularly ask people to be quiet in the Quiet Coach on trains [e.g. not to speak loudly on their mobiles]. An obvious thing to do. But so few of us do it. [English reserve - and fear - at its worst] When we do do it, then it keeps the Quiet Coach quiet - which is as it should be!
To enable us to have some peace and quiet if we want it, to be able to concentrate; to avoid us all drowning in noise...
Civility in this country is in decline. That is bad news for us all - we should all, as citizens, encourage people to be public-spirited and to care about others' experience.
[Note: there suddenly seem to be a lot less Quiet Coaches on the train from Norwich to London. This is concerning me. Anyone else noticed this?]
30. 31. 32.