Senseless attack just typifies our society today
Areminder, if a reminder were needed, of the casual violence and downright nastiness that lurks in our midst:
A 71-year-old man goes out for an invigorating afternoon stroll with his dog in the park near his home.
Two Staffordshire bull terriers, the breed of chav choice, are running wild and start to worry the old chap's rescue dog. Instinctively, he kicks out at one of the marauding mutts, misses it - he's not so quick on his pegs any more - but the nifty footwork pays off and both of the snarling dogs scamper off.
The owner of the terriers is unhappy about the failed attempt to plant a boot up the backside of one of his pets. He remonstrates in succinct terms. "Don't you f***ing touch my dog!" he squawks.
It is then alleged that he headbutts the elderly dog-walker and plants a punch that knocks him to the ground. The owner of the terriers pulls up his tracksuit hood (no doubt he has tattoos, but I cannot vouch for this) and heads off. He must be thirsty after his exertions. A pint of a lager would do nicely, with a Bacardi Breezer chaser.
Is this man filled with remorse? Does he give a hoot about what he has done, the pain and trauma he has inflicted? I'll hazard a guess that the answers are "no" and "no."
This senseless attack did not happen in inner city Birmingham, on one of those litter-strewn recreation grounds beloved by the waifs and strays with a taste for warm cider and glue. This outburst of violence took place in the Warwickshire market town of Kenilworth, a place better known for its historic castle than its gang wars.
Kenilworth, with its population of 23,000, is quintessentially Middle English. The ancient settlement is mentioned in the Domesday Book and Turner was so taken with the place he painted the castle, although not literally.
The town has low unemployment (just two per cent, according to the 2001 census), the ethnic make-up is overwhelmingly majority white (98 per cent), and three-quarters of residents consider themselves to be Christians. Presumably the local lout who felled the 71-year-old dog-walker was of lapsed faith.
The scene of the crime was Abbey Fields, a 68-acre sweep of green, open land that lends itself to kite flying, nature rambles, and glasses of lemonade at the change of ends of tennis. The area is not known for its random acts of violence.
Despite the incongruous backdrop for such an offence, it would have gone unreported in the press but for the identity of the injured party, who turns out to be the award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies, of Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House fame.
It is not that the offence was trivial - far from it - it is just that we have become so deadened to the impact of such thuggish activity that in media terms the crime was unremarkable.
Today, crime reporters struggle to get a few paragraphs about bloody shootings and stabbings in their papers, particularly if they happen to take place in certain parts of the country and in certain parts of certain cities. Imagine then trying to persuade an editor to give up valuable column inches to report an assault on a pensioner walking his dog.
Editor: "Is he dead?"
Editor: "And your point is... ?"
The worry is that our collective lack of "interest" (for want of a better word) in any crimes other than mass murder, terrorism and multiple rape means that in some odd way we habitually condone the activities of the louts and braggarts who blight our daily lives.
Surely justice demands that the perpetrators of violence and intimidation should face draconian punishment, including huge financial penalties and, if necessary attachment to their benefits. Proportionate retribution is a good thing.
I am sickened by the attack on Mr Davies. I was thinking about it as a singularly unpleasant specimen of tracksuit-wearing white trash jumped from a bus in front of me, spitting and shouting at the blameless driver to f*** off.
There are those who say this gormless teenager, indistinguishable to me from the snarling dogs that menaced the screenwriter, should be counselled, mentored, given access to life-long learning, and handed a satellite dish.
I wish he had tangled his legs in his baggy tracksuit bottoms and smashed his face.