A few weeks ago there was one of those 'storm in teacup rows which somehow capture the imagination. An eminent violinist, Kwa Wha Chung, a lady of great ability and old world Asian courtesy was driven to exasperation by a child in the front row coughing fit to bust. Performing, I gather a sensitive violin concerto the mood and enjoyment was ruined by this unfortunate child. The virtuoso performer laid down the bow and suggested from the podium the parent brought the child back when she was older. To me, as a music lover, and erstwhile associate of The English Sinfonia, where I first met the violinist in the 70's, I am at a loss to understand how any sensible parent could have let the situation get so out of hand. Moreover Classic FM who ran the story took a straw poll of listeners claimed opinion was equally divided in the support of the performer.
Leaving aside the minutiae of this incident, I was not there, it begs the question 'is the child always given the benefit of the doubt'? FfIt appears to me, over the years there is a growing definitive order of merit in assessing behaviour of the citizen by 'society' or society as defined by those who make such assessments, usually self appointed , certainly self important, the great and the good completely divorced it would seem from the proverbial man on the Clapham Omnibus ( or Joe Sixpack if you prefer ).
The top of the pecking order would seem to be children, or 'yoof' if you prefer. Strongly followed by cyclists whose arrogance for many knows no bounds,certainly not the Highway Code. You can add your own list with priorities according to your own experience. They always seem to have one thing in common, they contribute the least to society and demand the most out of it. They enjoy a complete lobby machine, represented often by tax payer funded fake charities, bossy,noisy, professionally aggrieved rarely if ever from the wealth creating class, and are 'offended' on tap. Almost any criminal act is forgiven if you are a Greeny . If you are a white, wealth creating Middle Englander you cannot, by definition be offended, believe me I know I have been permanently vilified, insulted and deliberately misquoted, but I cannot be ' offended'. Fascinatingly these lobbyists are nearly always offended on someone else's behalf. I have frequently been on TV or wireless with a representative of some spurious organisation claiming offence, I always offer an apology if they can supply me with a name or address of exactly who was offended. When I made my amazingly popular speech on foreign aid last year and referred to money being wasted in Bongo Bongo Land Nigel Farage phoned me at 6 o clock in the morning demanding I apologised , 'to whom ?'was my response. Answer came there none. Indeed how could there be ? There is no such place . No ambassador to the Court of St James for Bongo Land with whom I could make my peace.
Returning if I may ,to children I regard parents as having total responsibility. This child at the concert was not addressed by the performer but her mother who by this stage had clearly abrogated her responsibilities and was ruining the evening.
Many years ago I was showing my wife around The Cutty Sark museum, a woman had two children with her who were completely out of control, they were spoiling our visit. I reprimanded the children for their behaviour , the mother was horrified, 'it's clear you don't like children she bleated', ' madam' I said, 'I don't like your children'. I have had theatre experiences trashed by hoards of state school children bussed in for an introduction to Shakespeare , usually gratis, in which they are clearly not interested, yet a production I might have been looking foreward to for weeks and paid good money to see.
There is the danger that these unruly children grow up with no respect for other people. Thirty years ago when a Friend of The Imperial War Museum, two teenage thugs were vandalising an inter active display in that sacrosanct environment, I was in my prime, still serving in the Army and took great delight in fetching the nearest one a hefty clout on the side of the head, no not with a rolled up magazine . Perhaps if their parents had met their responsibilities ten years earlier their offspring might have been spared a sore ear.
Anyone offended by this article please keep it to yourself.