I was reading ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser’s biography.
In it, he was outraged that years ago a pal of his had been sentenced to death for murder.
He was outraged because, at the same time, a Teddy Boy in east London had got off with just a life sentence for murder.
Frankie Fraser didn’t think this was fair.
I wasn’t very interested in Frankie Fraser’s argument.
But what did interest me was that name of the Teddy Boy.
It was my mate’s brother.
Growing up it never really interested me that my mate’s brother was inside for murder.
I never really knew him, he was an older generation.
They were Teddy Boys, we were mods.
They’d listen to rock and roll, we’d listen to Motown.
They liked motorbikes and drinking and fighting.
We liked scooters, fashion, drugs, and girls.
So we didn’t talk about what his brother had got up to.
Partly because it was a sore point.
My mate always claimed his brother was innocent.
I thought, fair enough, it’s his brother, you’d expect him to say that.
But some of the other guys had another take on it.
They told me his brother really was innocent.
Apparently there’d been a fight outside a local dance hall.
Someone had been stabbed.
My mate’s brother was involved in the fight, but he hadn’t actually done the stabbing.
However, he was the local thug and very unpopular.
Everyone was terrified of him, he made everyone’s lives a misery.
So the general consensus was that it would be a good thing for all if he went down for it.
And apparently he was fitted up.
The bloke who did the actual stabbing quickly joined the merchant navy and got put on a boat going a long way away.
My mate’s brother went down for twenty five years.
Now I know according to the letter of the law, what happened was wrong.
One boy died, one got away with it, one went to gaol.
Not necessarily the right one in any case.
But there’s an interesting example of rough justice at work.
When people think the authorities couldn’t or wouldn’t help them, what they did was take matters into their own hands.
They saw a very crude way to sort things out to everyone’s benefit. And in a crude way it worked.
It wasn’t ideal of course.
But the situation was far from ideal anyway.
The people who made the laws, the people who administered the laws, didn’t live in that area.
They lived in big houses in peaceful, quiet areas a long way away.
The people who made the laws did so according to their theories.
But the people who lived on our council estate didn’t deal in theories.
And in a purely pragmatic way they solved the problem.
That’s what happens.
Most of the people who work in advertising don’t come from the same background as their audience.
They give the audience what they themselves want, and just assume everyone else wants it too.
If we keep giving our audience what we think they should have, rather than what they want, they’ll ignore us.
And all our clever advertising theories become irrelevant.
If we ignore them they’ll ignore us.