Sometimes I hear very denigrating comments about young people in Treorchy and in the Rhondda generally. I've recently found myself comparing them to their peers from a far more socially and economically privileged region.
I had to attend a meeting in London and stayed overnight in Wimbledon. At peak time the next morning, I walked down Lake Road and into the centre of Wimbledon to catch the tube to the meeting. Along the whole way, I was walking in the opposite direction to girls from Ricards Lodge High School for Girls, who were walking in to their school in Lake Road. It was easy to identify them as they wear a distinctive purple school uniform.
Most of these girls looked as if they come from reasonably well-off middle class families; the sort of young people you might expect to have been taught manners and consideration. Instead, they were walking two, three or more abreast in the street, not bothering to make way for anyone coming from the other direction. There are roadworks in the centre of Wimbledon at the moment, and the pavement space is very narrow in places. Trying to get past Ricards Lodge High School pupils was an absolute torment. They marched on regardless, pushing into me without cease. I had to keep stopping to wait for a break in the stream in order to continue on my way. I was astounded by the level of discourtesy and thoughtlessness of these girls.
Funnily enough, the whole question of pavement space and giving way is one of the first things I noticed after moving to Treorci. We have a similar situation here in terms of fairly narrow pavements and waves of school pupils moving to and fro between Treorci centre and Treorchy Comprehensive School. I was, and continue to be greatly struck, by how these young people almost never fail to notice someone approaching and make way for them.
Likewise, in the evening, I do not worry if I have to pass a group of youths, because they will also move aside for a passer by. That was something that used to cause me a lot of stress when I lived in Arnold, Notts. I used to feel quite threatened by such encounters. Here in Treorchy, I feel totally safe.
I want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the young people of Treorchy for the courtesy I have always experienced from them in the street.