The Nurturing of Violence

victimSome time ago I wrote to the Producer of the BBC programme Eastenders to complain about the story line they were following at the time. Those of you that watch the show ( which I hate to admit I do ) may remember the violence that took place in The Queen Vic when some visiting thugs beat up a number of people. I felt at the time, and still do, that what was most concerning about that storyline was that it was being shown at 7.30 in the evening when there were bound to be lots of young children watching.

The response I got was not unsurprising. It was not a justification of such a story being part of the show and being shown at that time of the evening, nor was it any intelligent comment on the relation between violence in society and the exposure of young children to such gratuitous violence on TV. The response I got was merely an explanation of the plot as though I had not understood the storyline. It was, clearly, highly patronising and unsatisfactory. There have been numerous occasions since when I should have written similar letters. Eastenders is fully of misery, violent crime, bad and abusive relationships and as such it must appear to many viewers that is what life actually is and those are the norms of behaviour. It rarely displays happiness or humour. The role models that young people must chose from such a show is frightening. 

The debate on whether or not such a diet of violence has a lasting effect on people has raged for ages but it doesn't need a genius to work out that it must have a desensiting effect on people, making us more accepting of the abuse of others. The norms of behaviour adapt and change. We are now beginning to see the effect that free and very easy access to pornography on the web is having on the way young people are dealing with relationships and their expectations. It is beginning to worry those that are increasingly dealing with the consequences.

Cause and effect can be difficult to prove as the antagonists will say. I can here them now " show me the empirical evidence". However, the horrific circumstances surrounding the murder of Jacqueline Bartlam killed by her son Daniel, who apparently re-enacted a scene from Coronation St, is deeply disturbing. Here is an example of a direct link. Daniel Bartlam was examined and found to be perfectly sane and had enacted a planned, copycat murder. I cannot decide whether or not he is intrinsically evil or that his murderous intents have been nurtured by a constant diet of violence flooding through his life. Maybe it is bit of both. The book "We need to talk About Kevin" , although a piece of fiction, through up a fierce debate on this very issue in a way that the film was unable to capture.

No matter how tenuous the link between on-screen violence and real life behaviour may appear to be for some, I am convinced that there is a link. The majority of people, we assume, are able to disassociate themselves from imitating such behaviour but then all too frequently along comes a Daniel Bartlam and yet we seem to remain powerless to do anything about it. TV will keep pushing the boundaries in order to pursue ratings. That means it will never get better. As the nation becomes desensitised to today's level of abuse so the media take things to the next level to break from the pack. Why cannot people see that the only answer is a return to the kind of values that underpinned life in the UK 50 years ago? It may not have been a perfect society but I don't feel the intervening time has seen us progress. 




Junk/Spam/Unwanted Calls

junk mailI cannot count the number of times that I have answered the phone to find that it was an unwanted sales call. It often happens on a Friday for some reason. In discussion with friends it appears we all have a strategy for dealing with them. Some will just say " no thanks" others will make life a little more difficult for the caller. My trouble with the whole issue starts with the fact that on the other end of the line is somebody that is trying to earn a living. Having said that it is very irritating. In order to make myself feel better I tend to equate the nuisance with the door to door salesman. Usually some young guy, calling at night, presenting a card claiming to be his bona fides selling a whole range of things. I have even had somebody selling paintings i.e. rolled up canvasses. These type of callers will be quite intimidating for some people and I have stuck to the strategy that I will not even enter into a conversation. Such a straight bat approach is not always appreciated.

Quite recently we have had regular calls from agents representing charities, asking for my wife. They claim that she asked them to call which is clearly not true. Such an approach does not do the charities justice. In chatting through with friends I decided next time I will say she is on remand and I don't expect her to home anytime soon.

There some well-tried and tested methods for dealing with the majority of nuisance contacts and some of these are:

Telephone calls

  • Opt out of unsolicited calls by using the telephone preference service (TPS)
  • Register your particulars with the TPS at or call 0800 398893
  • A ban comes into effect after 28 days after which tie the caller is in breach of the ban. If they carry on complain to the TPS on 0845 070 0707
Junk Mail
  • Register for free with the Mailing Preference Service at  or call 0845 703 4599
  • Once you have registerd you should no longer receive unsolicited mailings from those trade association members that support the MPS and are members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and those not members of the DMA. It should take about 4 months
  • It will not stop those mailings posted abroad. Unfortunately many scams run through the post are sent from abroad and for those people trying to protect the elderly living on their own it is far more difficult. The only available advice is to contact the company direct. In the case of scams that advice is of little value and you can only keep a wary eye out.
  • Unaddressed mail is best dealt with by writing to Freepost RRBT-ZBXB-TTTS, Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Out, Kingsmead House, Oxpens Rd., Oxford OX1 1RX
  • It takes about 6 weeks but may only last about 6 months.
  • Use your computer's junk e,.mail filter to fend off spam. This facility will assess incoming mail and place in a junk folder if it believes it is spam.
  • Never open an attachment on mail where you don't recognise the sender and remember that if you respond to any of these e.mails you will merely confirm to the sender that it is a valid address.
Online Essentials


Big is Back

stockvault-girl-with-headphones103477-1I am an avid listener of Radio 4. It informs me on all sorts of subjects that I wouldn't seek out for myself. Keeping up with the modern world and new trends is most important as you get older. The item I heard recently ticked all the boxes.

A new trend, as I now know, is for large earphones when out and about. Not the discreet variety we all wear lest anyone thinks we are actually using any. Apparently different earphones can enhance and improve the different genres of music, although the researcher on the programme freely admitted she could often not tell the difference.

The twist to this tale which really made me smile is that these large earphones are not always worn by the young for their acoustic qualities, i.e. their primary purpose, but as a fashion accessory!! Indeed many youngsters have several pairs with which to coordinate their outfits. Some actually wear them without their being attached to anything but merely to send out the message that the wearer is on trend and of the moment.

So. come on all you silverlinkers, get some headphones and the bigger the better, if for no other reason than to keep your ears warm this winter !!.

Gwyneth Gibbs 

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