15 December 2006

Golf carts and ASBOs

Earlier today I was walking through the Brunel Centre and I saw something quite remarkable - a young guy selling 'The Big Issue'. Now, having lived in London for 30 years I'm pretty used to people selling that mag and, much of the time, I pass by with a polite "No thank you" and so it was this time. I headed on to the supermarket, got my lunch and, on the way back, experienced a change of heart. I decided to buy a copy of TBI even although I probably won't read it. So why, you might ask, did I change my mind? Well, the truth was that it was so enjoyable to see someone who was probably in their 20s doing something that was definitely 'out of the ordinary' for Somerton that I felt I should encourage him.

Now that probably isn't the done thing in Somerton. After all, Somerton is such a refined place that some youngish guy, with a mouth full of gold fillings, selling some magazine to do with homeless people will obviously lower the tone of the place. Or at least that might be the reaction of some people. But seeing this guy brought me back to my earlier musing on the subject of Somerton's covert ageism - Somerton's cultural dislike of the younger generation. This guy represented something of that younger generation and immediately got my vote.

Then a casual conversation about young vs old threw up another interesting contradiction in the way that Somerton manages its population. I was standing outside the bank and one of those electric golf carts came thundering by, on the pavement, and everyone had to step back to let this old hooligan get past. Compare that experience to the youngsters who sometimes gather in the Square at night in their cars for a bit of casual chat. Evidently they get moved along and are encouraged to move on because an ASBO might be the product of a refusal. Now I happen to think that those youngsters in their cars are behaving better than some of the geriatric drivers of these golf carts who seem to think that everyone should get out of their way. At least the youngsters with their cars have passed some sort of driving test.

Considering this contradiction only seems to further highlight Somerton's prejudice against the younger generation. I doubt that anyone hereabouts would consider an ASBO for the over 70s. Such an idea would be unthinkable. But why not? The standard of some golf cart driving hereabouts is nothing short of appalling. If anyone drove a car in the same way, they'd be locked up. But instead it seems that it is the younger generation that are targeted. Maybe young people have to be discouraged from doing anything in Somerton because nothing must disturb the deathly hush that suffocates the place?

Till next time.