Saturday, 20 February 2016

What should I have done?

Dear Reader,

Are you a good citizen?

Do you have a sense of social responsibility for others?

Do you make a contribution to your local community?

Today I was walking along the road.  It was raining.  I was well wrapped up and enjoying the walk.  Out of the corner of my eye I caught the movement of a human-shaped object, up higher than I expected it to be.  As I came closer, I saw that it was a young man, dressed in black, climbing up a drain pipe and shimmying along a first-floor window ledge.  He rattled one window and moved onto the next, which was slightly open.

He wasn't hurrying.  He didn't seem to be trying to be covert in any way.  It was the middle of the day.

But the area was dodgy, and he moved lightly, as if he had done it before.

I was too close now for him to miss.  He caught my eye.

What should I have done?

It occurred to me that in fourteen years of schooling, at two excellent schools, I had never been prepared for this moment.  Nor the one last week when I got shouted at from a building site; nor the one last month when I wanted to help someone carry their bags home but wasn't sure how to ask.

Am I a good citizen?  I pay my tax.  I don't use the NHS too much; I don't smoke and I'm not obese.  I've had two children - just enough to keep the population steady.  I contribute to my local amateur dramatic society and my local cover band community.  I don't fly tip, or spit gum in the streets; I take bags when I shop and I recycle.  I vote.

Am I a good citizen?  I walk past homeless people regularly.  I have never been inside my local elderly care home, despite it being across the street from me.  I only speak to my neighbours to complain or politely chat if I can't avoid it.  I sometimes waste food.  I take little interest in local politics.  I shop at a large supermarket chain because it is convenient.

How can I have had a good education if it hasn't really examined these issues?

How could my schooling have helped me decide what to do today?

I caught the guy's eye, and he smiled at me.  I thought:
"A burglar wouldn't smile.  Plus, I'm on my own.  There's no-one else here.  What can I do?  If I call the police or question him, will he try and stop me?  I don't want to get hurt. He won't tell me the truth anyway -  is there any point?"

He opened the window, and in a flash, he was gone.

What should I have done?


  1. Wow. Honest post. Teachers asked me something similar 'What if this isn't enough?' in the conversation following my ResearchED presentation, all recorded here: - Luckily a few weeks before I'd heard my grandma talking about all the ways the UK is going downhill, all the problems! After listening for a while I pipped up to say 'pick one' - this stopped her, so I elaborated 'pick one problem you care most about, one you are most sensitive to, and do something (any tiny thing) to help resolve that problem at whatever level of society you prefer and for the people you understand and want to help most.' She said she was too old and I said she wasn't. What if we each feel empowered enough to feel stupid while we figure out how to make a living while contributing to one positive we want to see in this world we're born onto? Wouldn't that be super?

  2. Should record him on your phone. If he gets arsed cha CES are he shouldn't be there!

  3. Should record him on your phone. If he gets arsed cha CES are he shouldn't be there!