Friday, 10 December 2010

Charlie Gilmour - regretting your mistakes is part of being young

The words of contrition from Charlie Gilmour, the 21-year-old stepson of Pink Floyd guitarist David, who was caught on camera swinging on a Union Flag at the Cenotaph during yesterday’s student fees riot in London are probably not his own.
Someone who is so thick not to recognise Britain’s most revered war memorial – despite being a history student – is unlikely on his own to have come up with the apology, “Those who are commemorated by the Cenotaph died to protect the very freedoms that allow the people of Britain the right to protest.”
“Running along with a crowd of people who had just been violently repelled by the police, I got caught up in the spirit of the moment.”
He could have added, “I’m a spoiled rich kid who will never have to worry about the size of my Cambridge University tuition fees and yet aren’t bright enough to know my picture would be splashed across the country and would be quickly recognised.”
I have no sympathy for Gilmour jnr. and he deserves all the flak - and any prosecution - flying his way. But it would be easier for me to huff and puff with indignation and call for the re-introduction of public flogging or at least National Service were it not for the fact that in my callow youth I did, what I now count, as the most senseless thing of my life.
I was a 17-year-old schoolboy. It was lunchtime and I was hanging around the school gates with my chums when a friend drove up in his new – very much second-hand – car. While everyone was gathered at the front inspecting its engine, unnoticed I went to the rear.
‘For a joke’ I undid the car’s petrol cap and held a lighted match over the gas tank. NOTHING HAPPENED. I was as stupid as Charlie Gilmour. I had assumed that I would have to drop the match into the petrol to ignite it. The combustibility of petrol fumes never entered my reckoning until years later.
Had the car exploded I could have killed or maimed my friends and myself all for a moment’s mindless bravado. I shudder still at the thought. From time to time I have to remind myself that making and learning from your mistakes is part of being young.


  1. Well said mate...seems like this whole riot thing comprised mainly of hooligans who were just after causing trouble and rich kids who saw it as a chance to rebel. Neither groups actually affected or actually understanding completely what these votes were about. Not that I'm wholely for or against the fees, but there's right ways and wrongs ways to do things.

  2. Thanks Sam, we need more light than heat on the fees debate. GC

  3. The House of Lords voted on Lord Triesman's amendment to the bill, yesterday. What was the result?

  4. Well GC. Charlie was recently jailed for 16 months. That is quite a long time. It would seem that there were a number of public order offences which contributed to his sentence. According to Huffington Post he currently seems to share your youthful penchant for cigarette lighters.

  5. Charlie was the vanguard of the current riot storm troopers.

  6. Suddenly we have a load of disaffected youth who are certainly regretting their mistakes before they have even had time to live.


What do you think? GC