Michael Ryan, Hungerford – written in 1999


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Michael Ryan. A man to be, to some extent, envied by those of us who can’t get our message across. he showed his dis-satisfaction with society in the only way left open to him. he set out to destroy life. The very thing society shows us is sacrosanct he blew to pieces. Then he turned his gun on himself. Well, he was in a corner and had been most of his life. A corner where the inside of his head was festering away with pain and confusion while, to all intents and purposes, the rest of society walked steadily on having good times and getting better. But, in showing his confusion and fear in the way he did, he also did what we all know is the last resort of those at the wrong end of the enlightenment trail. He took the lives of others.

The trouble with that last comment is that, in the society I live, and he lived, in we are shown time and time again that killing is not necessarily wrong and, when no one listens, it is sometimes the most easily accessible method of saying ” I have had enough”. The problem is, until you do something like he did, no one listens. Even afterwards it becomes too easy to justify his actions as those of loner rather than those of an adult that no one would listen to. It is all the more enlightening to see how much was spent on the victims of Michael Ryan and their relatives after he had his ‘way’. Why was so little spent in the years preceding ‘Hungerford‘, at school and afterwards, on trying to catch and help people like him before it became too late? Even now there is an outcry from local health workers and doctors for more money to be spent on preventative measures rather than on post-trauma care. Our society is fine as long as no one like Michael Ryan comes along and shows us how badly we have failed.

Michael Ryan represents the loner with mixed-up feelings about most of what society has to offer. Who represents the other groups of people, legion in this country, who have major hang-ups about our way of running society?

Having forgotten Michael Ryan what excuses will we make for the next killer who has finally had enough?

With child abuse– real, not imagined- on the increase and animal abuse rising as well, with stress related diseases increasing as well as mental diseases like Paranoia, how soon is society going to get the next ‘Hungerford’?

We live in a society which is stressed to the nines- where, as long as you have money, living is a good experience- rich and rewarding for many, until someone decides to pull the plug on the satisfaction you have taken for granted up till then. Up to that moment you take it for granted that the help, that society is always saying is there, really does exist. It is only on that downward slide that you find out that the only help is words spoken by people who have little or no comprehension of the true nature of insecurity. Every single member of the health service, the social services, banks, building societies, are fully paid, and paid-up, members of the silent majority,those people who have enough sense of society to know which side of life the butter is on. Sods Law is unlikely to show them the slope towards oblivion. Middlemen are a governments meal-ticket, whichever government it is and wherever it is, no government is going to unduly disturb that buffer zone between rich and poor. If it does take from them it gives with the other hand, keeping that balance that makes it easy for these middle men to say ” It’s nothing to do with me” or, more to the point ” There’s nothing I can do about your situation”.

We now live in a society which has more inner fears than it knows what to do with. Mr. Average fears lack of money more than he fears death- for lack of money is limbo. The perspiration of fear has been drowning this country for a long time now and all we are shown is how to live under water. The rich don’t drown and the middle men tread water whilst we, on the bottom, suck what little oxygen we can from the box in the corner. But television, whilst giving us hope also gives us desperation. Is it any wonder that ‘live today- pay tomorrow’ is the credo of Thatcherism if we are constantly shown what ‘real’ people have in the way of possessions and freedom, in the way of good working conditions and family life. No wonder it is the negative emotions and feelings that tend to be upper-most in the minds of most people; apathy, anger, greed, selfishness, frustration. Yet, for some people these emotions don’t seem to exist. Those with money from the past, those in good jobs, those whose pasts have not precluded them from the government grants and state aid for businesses. The rest of us drown and our dreams drown with us- how much better would this society have been if we had been given the chance to put in- to help in our own ways. I envy you Michael, you’re out of the way now.

2008 – To reiterate – I do not advocate violence –

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