Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Halloween day was interesting me = VERY-bad-public-enemy-#1-guy[tm]
Halloween morning was VERY interesting.
I got to be the VERY-bad-public-enemy-#1-guy[tm] trying to keep a group of 10 to 20 kids (maybe from 8 to 14) away from council people collecting bonfire rubbish.
I quite like Halloween and do think people should have their fun. I also like bonfires etc and wouldn't be against a bonfire by itself. Is FUATH liom (I HATE) the nanny-state mentality. Kids have to learn for themselves and do some naughty/dangerous things. BUT if they are caught at this by adults I think it is very healthy if they get a little bit of a telling off. People have to tell kids if they're doing wrong, if they can do wrong and see that adults look the other way then there can only be more trouble ahead. Part of parents job is to be boring/cross I suppose. And other adults please parents don't (YET :) ) have full 24/7 satellite monitoring of their kids so it's up to everyone in society.
This year I guess the critical mass of people against the bonfire was achieved so the residents were actively discouraging it. Lots of people I think are pro- the bonfire too but they didn't speak up this year.
Should be interesting to see what way it swings next year.
There was a more active advertising campaign against bonfires by the council this year too e.g. http://www.dlrcoco.ie/halloween.pdf I'm not really persuaded by the environmental argument BUT I can see that the bonfire and fireworks become more and more and more every year.
It's great fun maybe but it's taken advantage of and happens to be a night where we see some of our social problems! :-P One thing is at the bonfire last year (and previous years but to a lesser extent maybe) was that there
were teenage-adult visitors by foot or car with alcohol and fireworks. Over by the bushes or near the bonfire was a very uncomfortable place to be if you were adult or for the younger/local kids. Some of the visitors were saying
they were from Tallaght, some were from Foxrock. Maybe they were coming to a bonfire which had least adult control/interference ?
What for me personally was the main reason for being against the bonfire this year and being willing to see what happened if we were more active against it was being told by the younger kids on this estate that last year when the council came to collect rubbish that THEY PICKED UP THE STICKS AND STARTED
HITTING THE VAN AND TRACTORS that had come!!
Now our estate is very wussy-upper-middle-class[tm] and for a mini-riot[tm] (albeit a wussy-upper-middle-class-mini-riot[tm]) to happen so trivially is very dismaying to me.
So anyway that is why I'm willing to do something about it. I don't see any particularily effective or easy solution against the social problems but some discouragement of bad activity is appropriate. One thing the council do is collect the bonfire waste. This could I think never be 100% effective sbut it would make the
bonfire smaller. Unless you had lots of adults supervising the area the whole evening and night that you would never prevent a bonfire anyway.
The way the bonfire works: They're illegal but kindof traditional. Kids have the week off school (mid-term) which they
can spend in the very active and healthy (physically & socially) :-D manner of collecting rubbish (from skips, from businesses, ... whatever). Lots of hard work is put in.
The council always attempts to collect the rubbish where it is gathered and take it away. So it is stored in hiding places, in our case behind bushes and trees at side of green or in a derilict site/field nearby. Last year the council said they encountered child residents who asked them not to take it away (reading between the lines: picked up sticks and started hitting the vehicles).
So to support the council the idea is to have adult residents present when the waste is being collected. The council has a busy day and doesn't give exact times for collections so you need people available all day.
So early enough Halloween morning the vans & tractors appeared and got to work. Fionn phoned other people and I headed over. I said hello to council people and immediately a group of kids arrived over. They immediately were upset and went to grab wood which council was throwing out from behind bushes. I spent next 20 or more minutes robustly trying to explain and argue with voice all the time while also pushing (trying to be gentle) kids away from the work. Kids did manage to keep on getting wood but they were focussed on arguing with me and getting around me so I think the workers at the main pile of wood were mostly unhindered. Kids tried some different things, went to go for tractor/trailer and were very active vocally. Some lady residents came shortly after start and kids noticably became a bit less angry-violent but still very active. In fairness to kids not one of them threatened myself with injury and there were lots of sticks with nails sticking out around!!
Very confidence-inspiring-NOT to have 2 of the council workers telling me "I saw you pushing those kids", "that's assault" etc. Kids were saying they would phone gardai, child-line, etc. Please don't waste the services time who are trying to do something about REAL problems. And do go home and bring your parents over! Do teachers have to put-up with this the whole time? Sheesh.
After main pile was gone council did not wish to go into field and collect what was there. I was telling kids they could have hidden it better :-) :-E But that there was still loads left for a bonfire. Kids stood on wood they had collected (who thought of that). That was effective! I'm definately happy for them to have a nice peaceful protest. Council headed away and I stayed trying to explain to kids for another good while.
Kids were very upset and some had tears in their eyes but their arguments if anything made me more resolute. They were saying alot that it was tradition and it was their right to have a bonfire. It's hardly a right, um, they're illegal too! (in the Irish-acceptable-illegal kindof way) I ended up thinking we're a bit spoilt if we get very upset over PARTIAL-denial of a bonfire.
We got some video of bits of this. Nobody came to any harm anyway (maybe me mentally a bit!) It spoils Halloween, leaves a not-nice feeling but I think sometimes you have to stand ground (even if the immediate issue isn't quite the thing you're fighting against?)
Rest of day:
Well I was working. Got lots done actually. Running tests and checking memory use with libumem. Testing and merging to trunk. Adding debug and tracing sequencer lock-up problem. Fixing Retransmit-Manager avalanche when overloaded. Gemma made a release.
In afternoon residents had organised a Halloween party on Green. I saw the start. Gazebo up and two teenage facepainters mobbed by loads of kids. The kids I had arguments with in morning helped move Gazebo out of way of council cutting the grass. Halloween pinatas, candyfloss machine. Ghouls vs Vampire football. I went out at very end VERY briefly and there was a lovely atmosphere.
Our house was a bit decorated but not much - windows painted. Nice carved pumpkin and I carved two more while manning door.
Kids had great fun. Kate was a pink shoe. Maeve was a witch. Daire was a scary thing with no face. Maeve would not let me put on Frankensatein suit. Maeve was with me after a bit and quite liked answering door and distributing sweets.
Bonfire was lit early enough 17:30/18:00 ? But very soon after Garda car drove past. And after that nobody was over there! Why, if they so wanted a bonfire? And if the collecting the wood is the fun part :) ... then why not just collect the wood and leave the council take it away without hassle!? :) :D :-P Okay, I'm joking a bit. Fionn asked them again next day and it was partially that their parents didn't let them go over if there were no adults there and also that there were older people drinking in the bushes and at one stage throwing fireworks at people who came near. So the kids were scared to be over there anyway. Adult presence would have helped but adults were also scared to go over and adult on green shooting fireworks retired because of getting fireworks shot at them.
If people want it safer then we need an adult presence for the night in the area (to make things more boring). If kids really want a bonfire then I think get their own parents and more adults to support and run it. I'd help but NOT going to do anything without good support. Going all the way getting licence for legal one I think would be very difficult.
Close by in Sandyford-hall/Fernleigh they have an unofficial but adult-supervised one. This is much better I think but this year they had some problems with the crowd? Maybe kids from our area and people that came to our bonfire moved on to there moving the problem ? :-7 Humm. Or maybe these things just start small and always grow until it gets a bit problematic then ... well we're a biological system and if your graph these things they can grow, oscillate or stabilize somewhat for a time, but always eventually peter-out.
Looking forward to next year now! :) Will at least be interesting.