The Plastic Hippo

June 25, 2013

Instant Caldmore

Filed under: Media,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 9:15 pm
Image via

Image via

It is a very rare Sunday morning when Walsall, let alone Caldmore, deserves a mention on national radio in any other context than a lane closure on the M6 causing delays and so a brief item reporting a suspect device found outside a mosque in Rutter Street made for an unusual brunch. Someone else was tasked with ensuring the mackerel under the grill did not burn and that the scrambled eggs remained light and fluffy.

In order to glean some further information, it was necessary to attempt to evict a surly teenager from the wretched Facebook being viewed on what, to be pedantic, is actually my computer. “But Dad”, she bleated, “there`s bombs going off all over Walsall.” Asking what she had been informed of resulted in the sad realisation that the Facebook generation allow themselves to occupy a universe built on unfounded rumour and a desire to be part of a Hollywood disaster movie without the normal high standards of literacy associated with action film screen writers. According to her circle of cyber friends, we were facing the apocalypse. This would ordinarily provoke howls of parental derisive laughter but she was clearly worried and so some reassurance was offered and a promise to try and find some facts as soon as she got off my bloody computer.

The first port of call for all things Walsall has to be the indispensible Yamyam. If you need to know the score of the last Wyrley Juniors under nines football match, or the importance of making sure that your hanging baskets are safe from robbers or be made aware of the latest terrorist attack that is intended to rip the very fabric of society and usher in the end of days, then the Yamyam is the place to find out what other people are saying. Sure enough, Walsall`s most popular and only news aggregation site was churning out press reports of the shock horror bomb attack with all the impartiality of a computer programme trained to search the world`s media for the keyword “Walsall”. Compared to the preposterous and outlandish speculation on social media the coverage by respected and factual news sources was, at best, inconsistent.

So grave was this threat to democracy and freedom of belief that the explosion was not reported for 24 hours and a passing worshiper carried the remains of the outrage into the mosque the next day. One report claimed that the device was taken home by the Imam only to be brought back the following morning when the police were called as a precaution. The timeline is rather confusing and reading the press reports it seems that journalists had as much idea of what had happened as hysterical teenagers lacking the spelling ability of circulation hungry hacks.

Elders at the place of worship, to their great credit, seemed calmly sanguine regarding the attack and might have been surprised by the reaction of the West Midlands Constabulary. It is difficult to shift from the imagination the scene at the end of the Blues Brothers movie when hundreds of SWAT teams, the Illinois National Guard and the US Army rush to apprehend Jake and Elwood all chanting “hut hut hut hut hut”. We may never know if the proportional response by the police changed fairly relaxed worshipers into frightened citizens during the following 24 hours as we only have some rather odd police statements and inconsistent newspaper reports to offer some insight into this attempted atrocity.

Clearly, given the volatile atmosphere of racial and religious tension being exploited and stoked up by profoundly stupid minorities of every persuasion, the incident at the Aisha mosque needs to taken very seriously. However, there is a slight suggestion that the media frenzy and the very large and very public police operation might actually increase the tension and ramp up fear and uncertainty. Those in charge of the operation started well by offering the usual correct holding statements involving phrases such as “keeping an open mind…ongoing inquiries…early stages of a complex investigation…call 101…etc etc” but very quickly confirmed the existence of a home-made explosive device and that a “hate crime” had been committed. By Sunday afternoon, local politicians were queuing up to condemn those that seek to divide our community with some gentle jostling to get in front of the cameras and the Old Bill were tripping themselves up with some semantic gymnastics involving the difference between hate crime and terrorism. It would seem that an open minded, ongoing complex investigation had become an open and shut case.

Like the Woolwich murder, there is more to this incident than meets the eye and it would be both foolish and unhelpful to comment or speculate on the motives or possible perpetrators of an as yet unsolved crime especially if statements made by ambitious officers and media starved councillors prejudice the safety of future convictions in court. It might well be that the unspeakable horror that visited Rutter Street is the precursor of the final countdown or might be the result of a kid with a firework or the down-wind fall-out from a wedding celebration. The basic fact is that without access to any evidence, we simply do not know and vague conjecture and a contest to see who is the loudest champion of unity and community cohesion is not doing much to help Caldmore stay calm. Councillors running around shouting “don`t panic, don`t panic” is likely to have the opposite effect. If the police have credible intelligence that some imbecile lucky enough not to blow his own arm off is responsible, then they should be left to quietly pursue and prosecute the pond life.

Walsall`s 15 seconds of notoriety on Radio Four has now passed and it is hopefully unlikely that Caldmore will trouble the BBC pronunciation unit in such an unwelcome way again. How exciting for Walsall to be in the news. However, Cobra did not meet in special session, the Prime Minister was not summoned from Chequers, barking mad backbench MPs did not blame the internet and the unity and community cohesion of the overwhelming majority of Walsall people was not broken. After taking telephone calls from concerned friends and relatives from far away who seemed to be under the impression that Walsall was a war zone, I sat down to the brunch.

I sincerely hope I`m wrong, but the only damage on Sunday was that the mackerel was cold, the eggs were dry and all the toast had been eaten. Those responsible will not be allowed to disrupt family unity.

1 Comment »

  1. I came on this article when searching for information on the Walsall bombing for research I’m doing into racist attacks. In course of this I have come across a lot of vile and disgusting comments, many worse than this but I wanted to ask you if you are now going to take them down following subsequent events and the conviction of a racist for murder and causing explosions including the one in Walsall; the one you so easily dismissed as a non-event. Your blog suggests that you are one of those people who can always find fault but offer no solutions. From reading other examples, you think the world is there for you to sneer and jeer at. Tell me what was so funny about the Walsall bombing , was it the lack of bodies? If the bomber had been successful would you have tried to be funnier or just ignored it completely and enjoyed your breakfast? If this had been your street would you have laughed? Or are you so lacking in foresight that you have to see the blood of victims before you can take racist murders seriously, or maybe you just don’t care?

    Comment by juliet — October 24, 2013 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

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