Cry of the soul is act of violence;Opinion

26th February 1999 at 00:00
MANY years ago I found an alarming piece of scrawl in the urinal at school "Mourby must go" it said. I was shocked, partly because I had hitherto thought myself quite popular and secondly because I was sure I recognised the headmaster's handwriting.

Maybe this incident was what left me with a lifelong aversion to graffiti. The statement it makes is often aggressive in intent but the perpetrator is almost always anonymous: ergo violence without the risk.

However, it seems the Pope does not agree with me. His Holiness considers graffiti to be a "cry of the soul against the indifference of society" or so it said in my copy of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's own newspaper, last week. Well all I can say is that the Holy Father obviously never visited the boys' lav in Bournville Junior School. What he would have made of those lost souls who were forever telling a far-from-indifferent society that Jackie is a slag or proclaiming Villa scum and Up the Bules (sic) I cannot imagine.

The Vatican may have a point when it suggests that graffiti is the work of those who do not feel they have a sufficient stake in society - but neither do psychopaths and child molesters and yet we wouldn't dream of condoning their handiwork. The symptom of a malaise must not be indulged just because we feel sorry for the sick. Writing on walls is an ugly and cowardly affair, leaving Jackie no chance to scratch her accuser's eyes out or the Villa Scum to have their say. Graffiti is also highly obtrusive. People can always choose not to read this column but they'd have no choice if I sprayed it all over the school yard.

And this is very much what I told young Tom when I found two Robot Wars figures sketched just above the skirting board last week. Roundly my apprentice vandal was informed that however indifferent he might be I was not and he was given a sponge and bucket of water to remove Road-Block and Killatron from the dado. I'm glad to say they were not there next time I looked. Smug I might have been but I felt this was doing both Tom and society a long-term service. This morning however fresh graffiti has appeared in the downstairs lavatory, three words with a curiously familiar ring to them: Dad must go.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now