Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Goodbye golden youth

So I was at a dinner party the other week, seated beside a veteran TV presenter. He was an engaging man with a wealth of anecdotes mined from a long career covering war zones, general news and consumer affairs. As with most charmers, he had that knack of appearing interested in everything I had to say. 

A woman in Victorian costume with the caption, "Age cannot wither her"
At some point in our conversation, we got to discussing how the glut of news on the internet had eroded television audiences. In that context, he remarked that young people didn't really watch breakfast television news anymore. Happy to concur, I told him he was quite right; in our house we tended to listen to Radio 4 of a morning.

"Oh, I meant really young people, teenagers, twenty somethings, who get their news on their phones," he said, before gallantly adding, "but you are young too."

I had fallen into the trap of assuming I was still a paid-up member of the golden youth. During that same weekend I was looking at some photos of myself from another party: who on earth was that woman with all the wrinkles around her eyes? Looking on the bright side, it seems that I have a positive self-image. Clearly, my perception of how old I am has not yet caught up with reality.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The quiet determination of Doreen Lawrence

Notes from the Henley Literary Festival... 

Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, made a startling observation at the Henley Literary Festival this week. She believes that police reforms are not being implemented and that the force is still guilty of racism. "Senior officers get what we need to do," she told the audience. "But somehow that is not being transferred to officers on the ground."
Doreen Lawrence

To prove her point, she shared a story about a young black man being arrested at London Bridge, just as she happened to reach the station platform. A group of white officers were kneeling on the young man, who also had his arms held behind his back. Baroness Lawrence decided to intervene and warned one of the officers: "He could die from that, you know." The officer, who clearly did not recognise her, replied: "It happens."

It has been more than 20 years since Baroness Lawrence's son Stephen was murdered in 1993 in London by a gang of white youths. Right from the beginning, the Lawrences were aware that the police were not taking the case seriously enough. "We were treated by the police as if we were perpetrators, not victims," she said. The force seemed more interested in investigating the Lawrence family and their friends, rather than pursuing leads to track down Stephen's attackers.