Sad to say, there is something quite specific in the collusion of the English summertime and the 24-hour news cycle that brings to undue prominence such a miserable story as that of the late Raoul Moat and the iniquitous violence he meted out to selected persons following his release from HMP Durham. Northumbria Police are going to face some harsh questioning over the length of the manhunt, but I'm not so sure it can be made any easier to hunt a man in difficult rural terrain that he happens to know very well. Nor am I sure it can be made much more rigorous to follow up on the many and varied threats and oaths uttered by prisoners as they prepare to exit prison. But I'm very sure we will learn more in days and weeks to come about Moat's professed grudge against the Northumbria force, who apparently arrested him on 12 occasions, and have charged him with seven separate offences at various times.
I should confess that for a lot of last week I was unhappily reminded of the Tyneside demi-monde I looked into while writing Crusaders: specifically the fictional character of the Washington-born ex-bouncer Steve Coulson, both his body and his ability to enact violence massively inflated by steroids (his preferred ride also a black Lexus.) But if you take the length of this land then the tougher parts of Tyneside are hardly unusual in their creation (and mingled fear and admiration) of hard men. Often you hear efforts to mitigate the hardness through a sentimental local view of 'gentle giants', 'salt of the earth' and so forth. But such efforts have the feel of special pleading, or a bad conscience. And nobody who's been on the receiving end of iniquitous violence is ever fooled.