Anarchy In The UK

January 28, 2008 at 1:29 pm 4 comments


Anarchy In The UK 

So, would you have a go? Would you intervene if you saw a bunch of youths vandalising your property? Would you intervene if you saw someone being attacked in the street? Up until recently, my answer would always have been “yes”. But now, I am not so sure. Indeed, it is not all that long ago since I did tell two yobs off for causing damage. They were aged about fifteen and they were climbing on an ornamental hedge in the ornamental gardens of Tatton Park. They were standing on top of the hedge and beating it with a big stick. I told them to “Get the f**k down!” They did. It was a bit of a relief because it was a very big stick. And, imagine my surprise when I realised that the woman who was sitting on the bench in front of the very same hedge was their mom. She, their mom, batted not an eyelid, neither at their unruly behaviour nor at my aggressive admonishment.  

I also, regularly have been known to have “a quiet word” in the ear of groups of teenagers who are making noise in cinemas. But, maybe I am foolish to do so. Even if the gang of kids don’t take you on themselves, you run the risk that they will have phoned their big brothers who will be waiting for you outside the movie theatre, with pit-bulls and baseball bats at the ready. 

But recently, there have been too many murders of have-a-go heroes, or even, of innocents just trying to protect their own homes. And, it seems that every hoody in the ‘hood is walking around “tooled up” and prepared to use their weapons. On anybody. On everybody. Young male testosterone, bad attitudes, knives, drugs and alcohol are not a nice mix.  

Now don’t get me wrong, my teenage years were far from non-violent and I was always more than ready to respond with my fists. Nor is it the case that knives were particularly rare in downtown Handsworth in the early ‘80s. As readers of earlier posts will know I had a boy die in my arms as a result of being stabbed in a schoolyard fracas. And, I have personally had a knife pulled on me three times in my life – once when as a school prefect I was trying to remove a fifth former from school (it was a very small knife and his arm hurt very badly afterwards!); once when someone tried to mug me in London (I only saw the knife after I had smashed his nose and he ran away); and, once when I stepped in to protect my next door neighbour from her enraged boyfriend (see earlier posting). 

Knives and sharpened metal combs were omnipresent in my youth. Bouncers on the pub doors in Erdington would regularly confiscate penknives, flick-knives and metal combs. But, they were rarely used. Fights were frequent too. But in my day there were still rules. No kicking. If someone went down in a fight you would never have dreamed of kicking them or stamping on their head. And, the fights were largely self-contained, involving like-minded violent youths only.

My teenage friends would never have dreamt of having a go at anyone who tried to stop us from doing something that we shouldn’t have been doing, or of picking on an innocent in the street or on a bus. People seem to be getting more and more fearful. I read that black army officers are to be drafted in as positive role models to try to deter black youths from joining gangs and getting involved in violence (unless it is on the streets of Basra or Helmund Province that is).

But I fear that we will see a growth in gated communities and a polarisation of society. We will find metal detectors and security guards in our schools. I fear that David Cameron’s plan to provide tax incentives to encourage people to get married and to stay together will fail to prevent the decline of our social make-up in which so many young men lack positive male role models. I fear that the Guardian Angels will soon be back on the London underground and groups of vigilantes will be roaming our estates.  

So, would I have a go? I really, really don’t know. Would you?


Entry filed under: Birmingham, childhood memories, Politics. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

The Good Life Sleeping With Julia Roberts

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. maryt  |  March 13, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    The things that you describe, Middleman, sound like the 80s here in the U.S. New York City area. Today things are pretty good. Crime is down, the city is relatively safe. I have spoken up when a guy was roughing up a girl one time on the corner near my home. They both continued on their way after I threatened to call the police. Maybe I should have called anyway but I didn’t. She seemed to freely leave with him.

    I credit the growth of the middle class for the drop in crime rates. Groups previously in the poorer classes have climbed out of the ghetto and are in much better shape, have jobs and are going to school.

    The people who are moving into “gated communities” are older people with a world view from the past – that they are living in a dangerous world. It’s just not so anymore.


  • 2. Middle Man  |  March 14, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Maryt, thanks for visiting and for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. It is encouraging to hear such an optimistic view from our cousins on the other side of the pond.


  • 3. gls insurance  |  October 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Could be the top blog that I read this month..

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