Right Wing

A short-ish road ride with Charli, and as we neared Henley we witnessed a car chase. Speeding up Remenham Hill was a Mercedes with its tyres blown out, rubber-smoke billowing out from behind. In pursuit, a police helicopter, three police cars and a police van. High drama indeed. We were going the other way and none of this posed a threat to us.

Later, we read that the car had been stolen some days earlier in London; that the pursuit ended in a crash in which some poor unfortunate passing motorist was hit and hurt (although at least incurring only minor injuries), that the car caught fire and two men, one 18, one 23, were arrested, and stolen goods from a burglary were found.

What’s interesting is my knee-jerk reaction – and that of all the contemporaries I talked about the incident with. That reaction was, basically, ‘shame the two men didn’t die in the crash’.

It’s a well-worn belief that ‘we all get more right wing as we get older’. I can’t say I can think of any reason why that has to be inherently so. I’m ashamed at that knee-jerk reaction. It’s ignorant and founded on nothing but assumption and prejudice. I have no idea about the circumstances that led up to those two blokes being in that situation.

The trouble is, I have a lot of trouble imagining circumstances that could in any way justify all the aggravation and hassle they’ve caused to their victims, the danger they put other road users in and the injury they caused one, the way they apparently hit two manned police cars as they tried to get away, and so on. Perhaps that just betrays a lack of imagination on my part.

And I also have come to suspect that no prison sentence or other punishment will steer someone in his 20s on to the straight and narrow but that is founded on nothing; it has no factual basis; I’ve no knowledge about the relationship between recidivism and age. It is just knee jerk dumb prejudice. That is ugly; it’s depressing to find yourself thinking it and it’s depressing to find contemporaries thinking the same.