My first response to this story about a toff at Cambridge University burning £20 in front of a homeless man was ‘what a knob’…. and as the story has gone from local paper to national media I’ve watched the hate blossom and I genuinely feel a bit sorry for the lad.
It helps that instead of just reading a headline post on Facebook I’ve read around… places like the Mail and Scottish Sun don’t have the sort of political bent that I approve of but what they are very good at (having pots of money) is padding out stories with details – one then just has to decide how much of the detail is truth.
It seems this ‘toff’ comes from Livingston… now as far as I know that’s not the most salubrious bit Scotland and I’m not sure it even has a really posh bit – his dad is an engineer with his own business but he certainly doesn’t come across as being a massively wealthy CEO or landed gentry and his mum… Sandra (46) is appalled about his behaviour and worried about him.
She says he rang home racked with remorse and they haven’t heard from him since – his mum and dad are worried.
My reading of the situation (and I know one of my ‘faults’ is to be overly generous about people) is that he’s a bright lad…very bright. He played chess quite seriously at school and probably won a scholarship to a very good fee paying place … he applied for Cambridge in priority to his local Edinburgh to read Law at Uni.
He and his family know its a privilege and a great achievement for him to be there.
Okay… he’s 18 and thinks right wing politics are the way to go… I can forgive him that.
He’s also 18 and in his first year at Uni which a large percentage of students spend pissed or recovering from being pissed.
He’s also not posh AND he’s Scottish so may well be having a wee bit of trouble fitting in at Cambridge University…what he may well one day become isn’t what he is yet… he’s just an 18 yr old lad who did something very, very stupid on a night out… as I said… a bit of a knob.
His mum claims in his remorse that he went and did a food run for the homeless in Cambridge a couple of nights later… and he did some volunteering with the homeless at whilst at school…. now I’m pushing my hypothetical situation here… but maybe in trying to fit in with the ‘real’ chinless toffs that Cambridge has bucketloads of…. maybe he was egged on to do this….and in my books if he did what his mum says if he feels remorse and tried to make good …for me he’s paid his dues.
What I do know is that pouring the depths of vitriol out towards him… the vitriol we usually reserve for Tory Ministers head fucking pigs and eating off gold plates whist the poor burn…isn’t doing any good and may be doing him a good deal of harm.
Yes he’s a bit of a knob and living near Cambridge I know there’s a homeless problem and they are considered to make the city look untidy and poor and that doesn’t sit well with it’s world renowned image and is bad for tourism… in fact once upon a time the City Council had a habit of buying one way tickets to Norwich to rid it’s streets of untidy rough sleepers (I kid ye not).
But folks…. turn your vitriol where it’s needed most…. on a government full of the sort of people you ‘think’ this lad is… It’s government policy that creates homelessness AND that keeps Cambridge as a place where people like Ronald Coyne will always have to work hard to try to fit in.
Turn fire on the real elitist toffs…. not those who aspire to be so.