Friday, 12 April 2013


The Vandals were a Germanic tribe in the 5th century, who settled in Africa and pillaged Rome around 455AD. It is because modern writers characterised the Vandals as barbarians that today we say a person who damages things through ignorance and wilful disregard is known as a vandal.

Over the past three months I have been constructing an entertaining visual presentation for Pauline and I to give a talk on our 4,000-mile cycle across North America. It's quite an undertaking as we're taking our show to ten venues around Scotland over the next four months.

Publicity is, of course, key to the success of this. With this in mind I designed a colourful and fun poster, of which a local printer produced a giant version, three feet wide and five feet deep. It looked fantastic, a real eye-catcher. So we put it up in a prominent position locally.

It lasted less than 24 hours.  The following morning we discovered someone had ripped it to shreds overnight.

A number of years ago the city council planted around 20 new trees in a local park. Less than one week later and all but one had been snapped in half.

Just last week a local community orchard fell victim to a far more cruel side of wanton destruction. Within the orchard were two very productive bee hives. One morning they were found destroyed and all the bees were dead.

There are other forms of vandalism as well of course. Those of a psychological nature. I have friends who campaign for the protection of vulnerable places and environments and are at the receiving end of intolerable cruelty in the form of psychological abuse by those who disagree with their views.

Whatever happened to free speech?!

I feel both ashamed, and angry at the same time, that all of these events have happened within a small radius of where I live. It is a beautiful place, right by the ocean. I take great pleasure listening to the crashing waves as they roll onto the mile-long beach just yards from my front door. It's a shame that there is an ugly side, but that ugly side is, like so many negative things in this world, man-made.

For four months Pauline and I cycled through many, many towns and landscapes, as we ate up the 4,000 miles across America. We met so many amazing people both young and old. Not once did we witness the kind of vandalism written about here. People were proud of where they lived, and looked after it.

Is that so difficult to understand?

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