I took my dog, Oscar – here he is, look – for a run on Wimbledon Common yesterday morning. Oscar is a whippet, and on his walk he met three other Whippets and four Greyhounds, and then rolled in something so awful that he still stinks even though I’ve washed him three times since. All of these dogs’ owners, and everyone else I met, was faultlessly polite and well-spoken. It was a genuine pleasure to exchange good mornings with these affluent parents, with their small children called Joshua and Luke in their rugby shirts, their Labradors called Margo and D’Arcy, and their Wellington boots.
Except, a few miles away, and only a couple of stops on the train, is Clapham, where the 15-year old crack dealer Billy Cox was shot dead this week. And while I was walking past the mansions on the edge of Wimbledon Common – Christ, they’re lovely – and the boutiques of Wimbledon Village (at one point I was compelled to phone Mrs wardytron and tell I her I was standing outside a Diane von Furstenburg shop; even I understood the importance of this) I couldn’t help thinking that there might, possibly, be a connection between, on the one hand, the massive, extraordinary wealth, and effortless, to the manor born, savoir faire of these very, very rich and very, very charming and lovely people, and on the other hand, the poverty, aggression and general hideousness that has sort of resulted in actual children dealing crack and shooting each other a few miles away.
I’m not a socialist – oh Christ, no – but even so, you can’t help but inwardly scream that there appears to be no political will, among any party, to do anything at all about this chasm. So in the meantime, if there are any budding or would-be muggers or burglars reading this, I would advise you to confine your illegal and indefensible acts of theft to the quite exceptionally wealthy denizens of Wimbledon Common. From my experience, they’re so contented and so lovely that they probably won’t even mind.