The Bickerstaffe Record


I support South Ribble Conservatives in their noble stand againt teenage yobs

11.20.09 | Comment?

It is not normal practice at the Bickerstaffe Record to leap to the defence of Conservative politicians under fire from the media, as they usually deserve it.

But this is different.

The matter concerns one Cllr Jim Hothersall (Con), a member of South Ribble Borough Council, and also mayor of the town of Penwortham, nr. Preston.

Regarding the local police decision to advise homeowners against opening the door to young carol singers, Cllr Hothersall is reported to have commented in the following way on the Jeremy Vine radio show:

‘They are teenagers from a renowned area in Penwortham. I have got to stress Penwortham is a super place to live but there is a particular ward where there is a particular problem and they are instantly recognisable. In fact, the local ward councillor refers to the area as Beirut.’

Now to compare a pleasant Preston suburb to a Lebanese port city renowned for its ‘war-torn’ status in the 1980s would be unacceptable, and an insult not just to the teenagers of Penwortham, but to all the town’s residents.

But of course this is not what he said.  This is simply the uncultured interpretation of his words Mr Vine and his BBC colleagues.

It is perfectly clear that the place Cllr Hothersall was referring to on the radio was not Beirut, but the northern Bavarian city of Bayreuth, pronounced in fairly similar fashion to Beirut when using a Preston accent.

Now anyone with an ounce of cultural history in their bones will know that Bayreuth is most famous for its association with Richard Wagner and for the annual performances of his operatic works at the custom-built Festspielhaus.

As Cllr Hothersall says, the teenagers of Penwortham are ‘instantly recognisable’ (one pictured above).   

This, as would have become clear had Mr Vine bothered to investigate, is almost certainly because they are all dressing up as Wagnerian characters, ringing doorbells on the pretext of carol singing, and proceeding to deliver Romantic Period operatic works at high volume and to a mixed vocal standard.

Frankly, if I opened the door anticipating a short and sweet rendition of Silent Night, only then to be met by a group of young hoodlums in large horned hats and flowing Nordic apparel, presenting themselves on my doorstep simply to subject me to the whole of the Ring Cycle, including the Vorabend, spread of a total of four evenings and with few comfort breaks,  I would be more than a little upset.   

Most people only know the Ride of the Valkyries from its appearance in Apocalypse Now, and it is simply unacceptable for these young tearaways to expect people to stand on a drafty doorstep for some 14 hours while they sing away lustily in German and prance around with fake spears pausing occasionally to wipe their brows in a tragic way. 


These young people clearly have no regard for others and are simply content to impose their own questionable operatic values on others, whatever the weather, and I FOR ONE AM SICK OF IT.

Cllr Hothersall is quite right to bring to attention this level of rampant anti-social behaviour, and if we had more councillors like him then perhaps we would not be in quite such a mess in this country.

Mr Stanley Kubrick made an influential film in the 1960s named Clockwork Orange, in which the main character, a psychopathic delinquent named Alex Delarge, indulges in orgies of violence only then to return home to play Beethoven’s Choral 9th on is stereo system. 

The incongruity between the violence of the evening and the beauty of the music highlights the level of the dystopia envisaged by Kubrick, but it also hints at a level of redemption attainable through the musical arts, in a way similar to the feeling of peace which washes over Gregor Samsa, the man-become-beetle in Kafka’s Metamorphosis, when he hears the sound of his sister’s violin shortly before his death.

What Cllr Hothersall is telling us, it seems clear to me, is that modern youth culture in Penwortham has moved even beyond the dystopic vision of Kubrick. 

Now, the quite literally deranged teenagers of this seemingly unassuming Preston suburb not only inflict needless,  gratuitous suffering on their fellow residents, but they pursue the ways of their new barbarism through the cynical misuse of  the very artistic tools that preceding generations handed down in enlightened good faith.

Surely, we are a broken society, a benighted land.

We owe Cllr Hothersall a debt of gratitude for making this so clear to us.  Yet Jeremy Vine, a radio ‘celebrity’, abuses him.  For shame.

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