He looked at me then tore up his drawing. 'Nah, it's not; it's rubbish.'
* * * * * * * * * * *
Like the majority of the people in this country I've been horrified by the actions of the rioters and looters. I heard a 15-year-old girl being interviewed on the radio. 'It's great fun,' she said, swigging from a bottle of stolen wine. Then realising that she might sound a little shallow she added, 'It's the Conservatives' fault. And the rich people who own businesses.'
Then a woman, a mother was interviewed. 'Well, they haven't got anything in life, have they? They've got to take it.'
I found myself yelling at the radio, 'You stupid idiots! etc etc etc'
Then I remembered Shane.
Shane and his older brother Kevin used to come to Earthquakers, a youth club I helped run in Linden nearly 20 years ago. Shane and Kevin were bad boys, troublemakers, regularly threatened with a ban, but with a well concealed vulnerability. When Shane tore up his drawing I realised how used he must have been to being told everything he did was rubbish and by extension that he was.
I am in no way a Conservative supporter but I don't think you can't blame them directly for the riots, although Maggie Thatcher set the scene with her Me Society. I'm not even sure you can blame government - although I am politically naive - for the mood in the country. Rather I think it's society itself that is to blame.
A society that judges people by the cars they drive, the clothes they wear and the money they have in the bank. When designer labels are the mark of a person's value we have reached a sad state.
The phone hacking scandal was shocking and, yes, the newspapermen and women who authorised it deserve to be punished but they did it because society, the public, we can't get enough gossip and scandal. We can all be righteous in retrospect but how many times have I ignored articles about starving Africans in favour of what the Beckhams did next?
There is no justification for what the rioters and looters did but it suggest that we need to look carefully at our society and how we treat each other, how we ensure individuals know they have worth for who they are.
The last time I saw Shane he was in prison.
I'm not a politician and I don't have very clear thinking; I don't know what the answers are but I do think it begins with us as individuals.