Sunday, January 25, 2009

To Hull and Back

I was on my way to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham on Wednesday for Boeing Boeing, a fluffy farce set in the comforting innocence of the 60s. There's a spontaneous shrine where you step off the tram, to a youngster beaten to death outside a nightclub in the early hours of last Sunday morning. Bouquets are piled up against a traffic sign, which itself is covered in graffiti tributes. Letters of condolence and notes addressed FAO the deceased, mostly written in text-speak, mourn his loss. All around it are thoughtfully placed bottles of his favourite tipple (empty), complete with convenient paper cups, to smooth his progress to heaven. And this weekend, hundreds gathered in tribute to his memory; some in cars playing his favourite tracks on their stereos. Dozens, including the Nottm. Forest Football Club Captain, are reportedly having themselves tattooed with his name and date of death.

Without meaning any disrespect to the life cut short, all this could just as well have happened in some distant land and be one of those foreign rituals like when you see Palestinians running along carrying shrouded bodies above their heads. I've become so completely disconnected from urban youth culture that I can only comprehend an event such as random street manslaughter on a basic level, much as I might view the carnage in Gaza with pity and a squeamish horror whilst safe in the knowledge that it's somewhere else entirely. Interesting that they seem to share a belief in an afterlife though.

The vomit, spit and urine-stained pavements of Nottingham are mirrored in Hull, where I was on Friday for a concert by the Halle. Their City Hall is more classical in style than the ornate Victorian Phipps/Matcham interior of the Theatre Royal but the message in the design is much the same - with a relief over the stage showing the Muses paying tribute to Britannia seated on her throne, while the Royal was built (according to its first owners) to "add to the number of those who seek a healthful pleasure in intellectual recreation". Each venue embodies the conscious effort to heighten the public's spiritual wellbeing through art, from an age when it was believed that this was both possible and necessary. We've come a long way from that sentiment.


Selena Dreamy said...

There's a spontaneous shrine where you step off the tram, to a youngster beaten to death outside a nightclub

Yeah, they're quick with shrines....but what horrifies me most is that the victims and the perpetrators are essentially indistinguishable. I don't think one experiences anything like this type of cold, mindless violence (particularly against children) anywhere in the world, except, perhaps in Africa. But even there they still shoot you or stab you for a purpose rather than just "beat" you to death for no reason other than that violence has become an end in itself, sought chiefly as a stimulus to the exercise of itself.

I think of it the "Rat-Syndrome"- the result of overcrowding!

Anonymous said...

Its very odd to see people posting tributes to these young murder victims on Facebook sites and the like... as though the deceased might read them..

All Shook Up said...

I dunno Dreamy, this kid is said to be a popular and decent lad. But yep, when you read about the scum who were giggling at their light sentences for aiding and abetting in the Rhys Jones killing, it does make you wonder what we share the planet with.

Yes, Mutley. Hard for them to believe a cool place like heaven won't have wireless hotspots and Bluetooth, I guess.