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Culture and Conflict

I have had an interesting weekend of looking at the issues of culture and conflict.

On Sunday there was the usual St Patrick's Day Parade in which as usual I played the guitar as part of the Tipperary County Association. The song played most frequently is "Its a long way to Tipperary" which was written by a Londoner about soldiers. Tipperary was probably chosen for the number of vowels, but when you visit Tipperary now frequently you see the words "It's a long way".

I have to concentrate to play this as I don't normally remember the chords. Gradually as we go through I learn the chords or at least most of them. By the end of the parade I normally suffer a bit in my fingers, but can remember the chords. It then takes me a year to forget them before the next parade.

This is the third largest St Patrick's Day event in the world after Dublin and New York. The group following us was the Sandwell Irish Association which actually was a group of Sikhs playing the Dhol (and probably other instruments). I know the lead player by sight as he plays a lot around the country, but cannot remember his name.

I am a strong supporter of the St Patrick's Day parade which involves shutting off digbeth high street for about 24 hours once a year. There is, therefore, a conflict between this and other users of the road, but that is resolved by formally deciding to ensure that it can happen.

On Saturday I looked at two other conflicts. First I went to the Cathedral first to talk to the staff there and then to talk to the emos who gather in what is known as "Pigeon Park". There is a clear conflict between the emos and the other users of the park. This arises to some extent from the behaviour of a small group of emos who seem to delight in disrupting church services and creating a mess.

The emos have been moved on on a number of occasions as their meeting place (which can involve up to 200 teenagers) conflicts with other users of the space. What would be ideal would be to find a solution whereby there is a place in the city centre that "Pigeon park" is moved to. There is even a myspace group called "pigeonparkpeople" with 168 members. I don't like the idea of continually moving on what is a large group of people who really should have a right to meet up in the city centre. However, finding a solution will take some work.

On Saturday night I went out with the police to look at the boy racers. This is another sub-culture where people come from as far away as the East Midlands to race up and down Landor St, Watery Lane and on the Coventry Road. The problem is that this conflicts quite seriously with other users of the road space. Racers weave in and out of other traffic. People have been run over. There is a continual game of cat and mouse between police and racers. There are perhaps 200 car loads of people that can participate in this.

This is a harder issue to resolve. Ideally they would race on a legit site such as Wheels. However, this would involve a small payment. I am worried that as traffic calming is put into Landor St this will create a worse problem on the Coventry Road.

The Moseley and Kings Heath councillors are having a similar conflict of culture (or sub-culture) argument about cruising in Highbury Park. Video explaining situation There is an interesting online debate about this with different views being expressed on the YouTube site.

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