How Dare You See Yourself As Different

A teenage boy has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sophie Lancaster and inflicting GBH on her boyfriend. The attack happened in August 2007, in a park in Bacup in Lanacashire. Police believe that there may have been up to 15 people present when the attack took place. It seems the attack was aimed at them because they were wearing “gothic” style clothes. Certainly the photos in the papers and on the net show Ms Lancaster with piercings, black and red dreadlocks and so on. This is very sad, and there have been lots of tribute concerts and funds set up and so on.

A nasty little story. I’m afraid I can’t help but jump to conclusions about the people that were hanging around in the park that night, and how they started to pick on a couple walking past. The couple looked different to them, were older, more intelligent, and apparently with bright futures. Perhaps some shouting. The couple maybe shouted back, or just tried to ignore them.

All this reminded me of a pub I used to go to in Bedford, The Bear. Back then it was pretty much the only place where the “alternative” types could go without fear of harassment. It was mainly an old rockers pub, with the landlady definitely an old rocker. I wasn’t really an alternative type, but a lot of my friends were, and I definitely felt safer in there than in the other places to go in Bedford. (A pretty pass things have come to when your choice of drinking venue is driven by whether you feel safe there or not). Since I left the town to see (a very small selection of other parts of) the world, the High Street has become pretty terrifying, full of the classic Daily Mail-style binge drinking culture. Of course, it may be that I am older and less understanding, and this view is based on very limited experience: I haven’t been there for years.

The view of The Bear as an oasis of calm (despite the KMFDM on the jukebox) is one shared by several of the commenters on the pub’s Beer In The Evening page. But one of the commenters, and this is a view I know was shared by many people in Bedford, says that if you visit, you should take a knife to defend yourself and to fit in. That says a lot about the ignorance that is the main problem here.

The Metro (also known as “Yesterday’s Evening Standard In Colour With A Week-Old Viral Pic On Page Three”), and it’s illustrious companions ‘thelondonpaper’ and ‘London Lite’, often have little debates on their “letters” pages about a particular item of fashion wear. In the past Ugg Boots, Croc shoes and cardigans have been discussed, always with the same result. Some email from some vapid girl says, “Sorry guys, cardigans just aren’t sexy”. Another responds, “I think they are, my boyf wears one”, and on it goes. The opinions voiced sometimes border on the violent, with suggestions as to what should be done to people who wear Croc shoes. This is all pathetic and pointless, and it undermines the idea that London is a cosmpolitan and varied place. I for one pride myself on ignoring people with crazy clothes on the Tube or elsewhere. Anything goes – I thought that was the point?

What made me notice all this and got me thinking was the fact that in the photo of the victim in Metro, she is wearing an Achewood Rabbit Ambulance T-Shirt. I love Achewood, as you probably know. Cassie gave me a Rabbit Ambulance Umbrella for Xmas, and a framed, signed strip. I’m sorry this post is a bit aimless and ranty. It just struck a nerve, is all.