Wednesday, November 09, 2011

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others

As you may have read or heard about in the news, there is going to be another protest against tuition fees in London today.  I’m sure that some of the participants will have a genuine belief in their cause and a genuine concern for others, but the cynic in me says that many in the crowd will be there for the day out (especially if it means skipping lectures) and the buzz of being part of something. It’s funny how so often we can use the excuse of thinking of others as a reason for doing something for ourselves.

But anyway, I’m getting side-tracked.  I started writing this post after reading this article on the BBC News Page – specifically Green Party member Jenny Jones’ comments that the idea of unarmed protesters being shot at is “frankly appalling” and that any police officer who used such force would have to “answer to the whole of London.”

Out of context, I’m sure people don’t disagree with her statements, although the over-the top references to Britain being like a Middle-Eastern dictatorship are a bit bizarre.  But let’s look at the reality of the situation. We’re talking rubber bullets, used to control violent behaviour – not random shooting of harmless people, as Ms Jones seems to want to imply with her attempt at scaremongering and scoring political points.

Of course, even when the context is understood, Ms Jones remains entitled to her own opinion.  But I am wondering why she has made no mention of the damage done in the last protests.  I recall reports of damage to buildings, a fire extinguisher thrown from a rooftop in to a crowd and an attack on Prince Charles’ car. 

Unsurprisingly, “frankly appalling” is a phrase I have also been known to use from time to time.  But in this case, it is the behaviour of some of the students which fits that description.  I would not use it to describe the work of the police in restoring law and order so that those who live and work in London can enjoy their right to get on with their day without inconvenience and without damage to property.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Awkward Moments for JP: Meeting a friend of a friend

I’ve not blogged for a while, and probably shouldn’t be indulging in this pastime now because I have a deadline coming up.  But as we all know, deadlines are great at stimulating procrastination.  I shall therefore proceed to spout an anecdote I’ve been saving for a rainy day.

A while back I was at a social event (a common occurrence, despite the fact that my job involves trains) when a friend explained that a friend of theirs was to join us.  I responded positively to this news, at which point my friend leaned in and said “they’re…” accompanied by some form of gesture.

“Sorry?” I said.

My friend leaned in again, repeated the gesture and said: “they’re…”

At once I understood.  The person who was to join us was deaf.  “Ahh” I said, smiling and nodding knowingly.

But when they joined us, I began to have my doubts.  They didn’t seem to have any difficulty in hearing what I was saying as I introduced myself.  I tried to subtly ascertain if they were lip-reading or wearing a hearing-aid and concluded that they weren’t.  Given that my attempts at subtle aren’t always successful they probably wondered why I was looking at them so strangely, but nothing was said.

The evening continued well, but there remains an unanswered question.  Just what was my friend trying to communicate?  It was a while back now, and even if it was appropriate to bring it up in conversation, what would I say?  And what if I need to be sensitive to something when I meet the person again?

As the saying goes, loose gestures cost lives…