Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Redditch ...

I was visiting the sick yesterday, and revisiting old haunts- up the M5 to Bromsgrove and along the old main road (now replaced by a hideous dual carriageway) through Finstall to Redditch, over the canal at Tardebigge. The Alexandra Hospital is where my mother was subject to unpleasant nursing care - not by all her nurses but a significant minority of the night shift - in her final months.

Parking's now £2.50 a throw - bad news if you're a pensioner visiting twice a day. It was about 80p five years back. The English NHS may not be able to afford drugs, but there's a new automated ticketing and barrier system for parking.

"Of course we don't pay at home" said my Welsh aunts.

On the way back I called in at Redditch's giant B&Q, built on the former site of a battery factory. There was a new construction on the roundabout. I wonder where the idea of naming the road after the founder of Pakistan came from ?

"Looks like a mosque" thought I. And it is. I don't know whether the application for lottery funding was successful, but it still needs a bit of money to make it look like this :

Well blow me down. The old place has certainly changed a lot since the early 60s. Prior to the building of the New Town it was a little market town, dominated by its church, and famed for its carnival - an annual childhood treat.

Which brings me, by a roundabout route, to this :

Prison officers at one of Britain's maximum security jails are losing control to Muslim gangs, according to a confidential report obtained by The Observer. An internal review of Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire warns that staff believe a 'serious incident is imminent' as several wings become dominated by Muslim prisoners.

The report, written by the Prison Service's Directorate of High Security, says there is an 'ongoing theme of fear and instability' among staff at Whitemoor, where just under a third of the 500 prisoners are Muslim.

It claims: 'There was much talk around the establishment about "the Muslims". Some staff perceived the situation at Whitemoor had resulted in Muslim prisoners becoming more of a gang than a religious group. The sheer numbers, coupled with a lack of awareness among staff, appeared to be engendering fear and handing control to the prisoners.' The situation has become so acute that white prisoners are routinely warned about the Muslim gangs by staff on arrival.

Now what we're seeing here isn't some great Islamic conspiracy. It's just what happens when a self-confident, expanding culture meets a cultural vacuum. Most prisons are already run by the forbearance of the prisoners. The addition of a strong bond between some of the prisoners simply ups that pressure and gives them extra clout.

Did I say a cultural vacuum ? Can a vacuum cringe ?

The report says that apprehension about Muslim prisoners has potentially damaging consequences and is in danger of 'leading to hostility and Islamophobia'.
You have to smile at that point. Apparently the problem is not the gangs, but the potential reaction of the evil natives. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.