(For the lady in Nigeria I haven’t forgotten the hedgehog photos, they’re coming sooon 🙂 )
An observational thoughtful post this evening 🙂 Perhaps I’m a World-weary cynic for definite? Or one of life’s realists? You decide 🙂 (Btw if you want to know what Savile looks like you’ll have to Google his image.)
Up until very recently University students in my home City used to give free hugs.
Let me elaborate I give no secrets away when I reveal I live in Oxford UK, a year on year City of eternal youth and I guess this beacon city of high academia has been like this for nigh on 800 years. Come early September, the start of Michaelmas term time and Oxford is awash with a new intake of eager excited fresh faced youngsters, suitably named Fresher’s. A term I’m sure those of you who’ve been to Uni will be well aware of.
I’ll wander around the science complex this time of year, in the name of working for a living I might add, or walk into town at lunch breaks notable for the disappearance of summer tourists to be replaced by 17 year olds embarking on further education and if they work hard there’ll be awarded a deservedly graded degree and then the World is their oyster to do as they please, I’m NOT joking!
Oxford selects the brightest and best student minds from across the globe, especially the Far East because they bring double the funding of English kids, and I don’t understate the fact if they get a good degree the attached name Oxford is a passport to greater things. A good grade carries kudos respectability high achievement and I’ll labour the point one final time Oxford graduates become politicians, captains of industry, wealthy, run global Corporations, they are the brightest and the best. (Well the majority are, I’ve come across lol students who haven’t grasped the meaning of the phrase common sense).
Bearing in mind the err (some) content on my blog and in the interests of secrecy perhaps I should qualify I may reside in the University City of Cambridge? Say attached to the Dept. of Humanities, lol 😉 you decide.
Returning to gleeful excited full of the joys of life Fresher’s, you remember where excitement ambition, youthful enthusiasm can be intoxicating!
As long as I can remember around the time of Fresher’s week small groups of undergraduates, not long left school impressionable, would congregate on the pavement outside a famous (no name) bookstore, shoppers would notice them because students displayed a card or erected a hand written sign which read ‘FREE HUGS’ or some variation. Now bare in mind this service wasn’t sanctioned by the University, wasn’t a Club you could join picked from a long list containing amongst others the infamous Bullingdon club, a select Society for smug privileged arrogant young men from public schools, you may have heard of it, PM David Cameron and future PM Boris Johnson were members, a nasty bunch a nasty Society…………and I’ve heard a few tales!
No you’ll not find FREE HUGS on any list of Societies to join, this small group of students standing outside a bookshop, doted around Oxford, would appear to be little more than well meaning friends who came up with a good wheeze, then again hugging used to be a serious global movement! Well now and again I used to walk past this curiosity and no I never once availed myself of a hug, not even from a pretty young female student, nope and you should believe me. Why? It just didn’t feel right.
Being honest even up until recently, and Savile (read on), hugging a stranger seemed creepy or am I a cynical guy mistrustful of another human beings motives? I’m a people watcher, one of life’s voyeurs so perhaps that’s why HUGS FOR FREE always caught my attention for nigh on a decade plus. I couldn’t help sensing, I don’t know, hugging women you don’t know seems well creepy, hugging is such an intimate act between lovers and family it always seemed a very naïve and fool hardy thing to do with someone they know not from Adam!
And some students didn’t hold back either, I can remember young women would fling their arms around a complete stranger’s neck squeezing them tight, so very strange I guess that’s the innocence of youth, they either had no inhibitions, judged and selected their victim for appropriateness or perhaps naively just went for it! ❤
Was I reading tooo much into my fears?
However this September something’s changed outside that bookshop, no one congregates to give FREE HUGS any longer, not for the past two three years and I think it’s because we live in more uglier troubled times, Britain doesn’t feel as friendly as it once was. 😦
I must make clear I recall this service simply because hugging was so out of the ordinary, rather odd very un British and devoid of normal human behaviour. Then every year, for some unknown reason about the beginning of October, the group of youngsters and hugging service disappeared until next autumn? I guess put hugging down to youthful exuberance and the vanishing down to boredom or a realisation that in modern Britain such open armed affectionate behaviour toward complete strangers wasn’t a great idea.
For all my prurient misgivings last week I found myself reflecting as I passed the bookshop, ‘seems a shame this ever changing band of happy individuals are no longer there, and why?’ Hmm I have a feeling events of recent years are to blame! Understandably!
So for the last three years or so the FREE HUGS unofficial Society has disappeared, and to those who work in Oxford (or Cambridge) I can’t help thinking it’s due to the actions of one Jimmy Savile. I’ll not dwell but this odious disgusting evil man, Britain’s most infamous serial rapist and paedophile, guilty of crimes against women spanning five decades all undetected till 2012, has changed Britain for evermore. Uncle Jimmy’s only redeeming quality is that after his crimes and those of his fellow DJ’s came to light, week by week, month by month, year by year since 2012 victims have found the strength and bravery to go to the Police and report wicked awful crimes done to them whatever they may be.
Recent (and historic) sex crimes have changed Britain for evermore, we’ve grown up even, we’re a people now aware sexual assault can no longer be turned a blind eye to. Every important Organisation in the land whether that be the health service, teaching, church, military or youth organisation, now have set guidelines in place for both reporting sex crime also vetting of employees up and down the land. Britain feels a changed Country whether that be for celebrity or commoner, so perhaps that’s why HUGS FOR FREE no longer exist.
BUT!!!! And this tale STILL plays on my mind, I’m 99% sure I witnessed a sex crime yet for the sheer speed of events I didn’t really do anything except walk past her several times, agonising if I should say something and if you’re at all interested I still think I did right by not telling her. Hmm
Men have to be aware of how their actions towards women could be taken, o ur conduct misconstrued as inappropriate. However it’s not terribly difficult to do in reality, you treat women with the respect they deserve, in fact treat all human beings you yourself would expect to be treated and all will be well. If we all recognise understand Britain will never be a utopic society then as a Country we have to try harder and we’ll ‘fingers crossed’ be the better for it. BUT this collective catharsis has some way to go yet, the odious Jimmy Savile and his disgusting action’s will reverberate for many years to come, five more years? Forever? Yes forever but I’m truly hoping Britain will become a more trusting happier Country to live in, just like it used to be 🙂
I understand I dwelt a rather long time on one evil Jimmy Savile, do you believe in God? Then you must believe in the Devil, perhaps you’ve heard of Savile, a nasty man and do you know what deep down I think we all knew he was a creep, in hindsight it’s so obvious he hid in plain sight, as a child I’d see him kissing young women on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and think that ain’t right! He’s old enough to be their father.
So returning to the free hugs from naïve youngsters one final time, perhaps these cheerful students have disappeared because they realise Britain isn’t a very nice place to live in at present, frequented by not very pleasant individuals then subsequently thought ‘flinging my arms around a strange male’s neck and hugging him ever-so tightly’ isn’t such a great idea in post Jimmy Savile England. Rather sad but I’m afraid very true!