Observer reporter Katy Weitz tried to orchistrate a joint interview with two hoodie-wearing teenagers — unemployed Daniel Luchford, 18, and his friend Lee, 17, who did not want to give his surname — and a hoodie-fearing middle-class couple from Sidcup — ”Cheryl Osborne, 55, and her husband, Eric, 65” — at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.
Bluewater recently banned — to acclaim from the Government — baseball caps and hooded sweatshirts in an effort to deter something called anti-social behaviour.
Apparently the shopping centre’s authorities also take a pretty dim view of the freedom of the press:
A security guard wearing a black bomber jacket interrupts to tell us that we are not allowed to conduct an interview on Bluewater property. Suddenly, a common bond is formed between the couples — Daniel and Lee roll their eyes but do not seem surprised. Eric, however, cannot contain himself: ‘I find this interruption more offensive than any amount of kids wearing hooded tops.
‘You can put this in the paper — this is a nice young gentleman [he gestures towards Daniel], but this [now looking at the guard] is outrageous. I’m allowed to say what I like to these people. This is my free speech. And you are very rude.’
Eric and Cheryl leave, but not without shaking Daniel’s hand again. They ignore the guard, who by now is on his walkie-talkie, summoning back-up.
Lesson for Tony Blair & Co.: Middle England is fearful of hoodie-wearers, but more fearful still of overbearing authority.