Saturday, March 1

Sunday Pleasures, Monday Pain

Bournemouth Sunday 24th Feb
"After school is over you're playing in the park; Don't be out too late, don't let it get too dark; They tell you not to hang around and learn what life's about" …………

attacked outside the (take-away food shop) Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, at about 0200 on Sunday. The Bournemouth teenager died at ......'

"Maybe I'm mistaken expecting you to fight; Or maybe I'm just crazy, I don't know wrong from right" …………

'.....attacked outside a public house (Holdenhurst Road) in a seaside town (Bournemouth) on Sunday later died ......'

"But while I am still living, I've just got this to say; It's always up to you if you want to be that, want to see that, want to see it that wayYou're coming along!"
(School' by Supertramp)

Bournemouth Monday 25th Feb
On Monday lunchtime I was just one amongst many Bournemouth office staff spilling out onto Holdenhurst Road. An arterial road leading to the town centre, a few minutes walk from the cliff top overlooking
the award-winning beach and the town's main police station two minutes walk aside. Its an important thoroughfare for tourists arriving less than half a mile at the train/coach station, making their way to the hotels, the town centre & the beach.

This area is a busy place at lunchtime, with numerous cafes, restaurants, bars and small shops catering for the hungry. And with just that purpose in mind I wandered down the road and past a large green rubbish bin, part of your typical street furniture.

At least last week it was a bin.

Now it had become a shrine decorated with piles of flowers, candles and a number of A4 pictures. Snaps of a 17 year old boy, who went out on Saturday night and never came back.

Yes- we've all been there. Drunk too much and got into an argument. But last Saturday, barely two miles apart, there were two separate beatings of such severity that the two losing parties paid with their lives. And with the locations and timing, likely alcohol related.

In some ways this is a fall out from Bournemouth's deliberate policy to attract the hen/stag crowds, and a town centre with late night drinking and numerous nightclubs.

But now the town has a problem. Bar & club takings are falling. The good-life image is tarnished as cheap flights to other places prove more attractive for the pre marriage gaiety. Meanwhile the kids from around the Dorset conurbation get loaded up on cheap booze before they go out for the night, rather than meet the bar's inflated prices.

Kids? Well sensible adults look at the cost and associated risks and do their evening's entertaining outside the town centre. Somewhere safer.

The result - the town centre is not a place to enjoy late at night. And Holdenhurst Road, despite parts being bright and 'fun filled' is an area I treat like some of the trouble spots back home in the big bad cities I originally hail from. I left at a time I recall when menfolk walked in groups between city centre pubs at night, similar to the women, and for the same reason. Safety. Bad times indeed, and ones I chose to leave behind.

And as far as Holdenhurst Road goes that means staying late at the office (anything after 6pm this time of year) requires serious thought. That old sixth sense tingles, on the lookout for potential trouble.

I've come across shrine/memorial on many occasions. At the roadside in France - a catholic tradition I believe; In the UK long dead flowers hanging listlessly from a dented crash barrier; And at this time of year a small humble bouquet left atop a local hill, off the main track and away from passers-by. An unassuming personal memorial.

Then there are those that you may meet on the hills and feel like historic curiosities. The plaque for
Charles Gough on Helvellyn; The Tommy Jones Obelisk below Pen y Fan;. Uncovered as part of the area's research and hence part of the expected scenery when they are met during a walk.

But as for the Rent-A-Shrine that these days spring up to celebrate recent and often violent death. Mounds of flowers that personally I find myself viewing with increasing distaste. If a car full of drunks crashes at high speed with lethal results, is that anything to really commemorate? Especially if there are further accidents because of the distraction, Just how does that improve things for the original victim and their family?

But until Monday I'd never come across one as it was in the process of being constructed.

And as I walked past it a spark of recognition hit me. And I shuddered.

Not for others outpouring of grief that caused it to be raised. Not even the futility of the circumstances leading up to it. Something no doubt to be repeated elsewhere in the UK during the next couple of weeks.

It is more the certain knowledge that having once moved away from a violent place, for a positive future, the same warning signs are now present all around me in this area I have come to call home.

And I'm told, by some, that the hills are a dangerous place for me.

Each to their own.


Its interesting to hear about Bournemouth, where I lived for 6 years. When I started in 96, whilst it did have a nightlife, and many students did equal lots of drinking. During my Uni life, it was amazing to see how quickly the town changed into the Hen/Stag capital of the South Coast, and with it, brought the lager lout mentality so common across the country. I have scene my old hanging out spots featured on police and similar documentaries and its sad.

To think that such a beautiful place can be cheapened, and the yobs complain about having nothing to do -jese, just take a walk over Hengistbury Head, or over to Studland. Actually don't. Leave those to us outdoorsy people and stay in the towns.

However, remember that whilst a lot of students and young people might be drunk, even in the early evening, many are genuinly nice and non agressive!!!
There was a quote from AW on "Wainwright Walks", something along the lines of "when I go to the hills, people worry that I might break my neck; but I tell them that I'm escaping from places where people might do that to me". Or something like that.

Each to their own. I rarely go up town without my Spidey senses tingling.
Paul - difficult to pick out the students from amongst the other inebriates in the evening. Except they usually have their iPods plugged in, rather than the hand out stretched trying to beg some cash.
Not a nice place these day
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