EDitorial ± 2-Aug-2004

What's My Tag?

Between mouthfuls of Rice Krispies this morning there was an item on Five Live about an Italian plural noun. From what I gather, the likes of the Black-Eyed Peas and the Fabulous Borlotti Brothers have been very naughty boys indeed, appealing to Da Yoof by standing in front of walls covered with, shock, graffiti. By the way, that's two fs and one t.

Getting all Daily Mail, those angular icons at Keep Britain Tidy claim that This Great Land "is in the grip of a multi-million pound graffiti epidemic". And the long list of those to blame includes The Eden Project, Greenpeace and even the Chelsea Flower Show. Oi Diarmuid, how d'ya spell fushcia?

Although they may be exaggerating a tad, I suspect they're right about it adding to an area's "sense of squalor". There's a great example in Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point where he describes the New York Transit Authority's battle against crime in the 1980s, putting into practice the Broken Windows theory:

If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken.

To the disbelief of many who favoured more radical measures, the Authority gave top priority to stamping out graffiti. Trains that came in painted weren't put back into service until clean. Over time it was found that levels of crime as a whole were dropping, demonstrating that big problems can sometimes be tackled by concentrating on tiny details.

Don't think that KBT would be impressed with one of the features on Suffolk County Council's website, namely their graffiti wall: have your say indeed.

I must mention one of KBT's targets, a graffiti artist known as Banksy. Bombing in Bristol before he heard the sound of London calling, he works with cardboard stencils and produces some astonishing stuff, admittedly on other people's walls. And on Wednesday this week, according to his website, he's unveiling a new 3.5 ton monument "cemented somewhere in central London". Keep watching the walls.

Be seeing you!