I travelled up to Durham last night to attend this year’s annual conference of the County Councils Network. It was a bitty journey. I flew from Heathrow to Newcastle, as surprisingly this was way cheaper than travelling by train.
From the airport I took the Metro to Newcastle railway station, then a train to Durham. But on the Metro two young men made me think.
They spent most of the journey – twelve stops – jumping from seat to seat, wrestling with each other, swearing loudly and making lewd remarks to any female on her own. Their Mohican crop haircuts were I assume intended to be scary, and they reinforced this persona by tearing up and throwing newspapers around the carriage.
But something in their eyes made them look like bored, frightened little boys. When a number of people boarded at Jesmond, their comments were muted, their acrobatics restricted.
For those of us on the train, they were a temporary inconvenience in a long and tiring journey. But what struck me was that for those young men, it’s their life. Why can’t we find a way to give them self respect, to give them a sense of their place in society, to show them that society is actually more fulfilling if you take your place in it?