Tag Archives: Violence

Welcome To Stockport

20 Jun
View from our house of another drama. The faces change; the cop cars remain the same

View from our house of another drama. The faces change; the cop cars remain the same

So here’s how my early evening went last night:

  • Make dinner
  • Eat dinner
  • Clean up after dinner
  • Rinse plates while daydreaming about Star Trek replicators and the ultimate recycling (dirty plates energized into pristine uniform on perfect and somewhat shapelier figure than I’ve ever owned)
  • Startled by noise outside, shoved inside by open window on glorious summer evening (so rare, it deserves a post of its own)
  • Look up from dirty plate reality
  • See two young men, separated by a bicycle (the crashing to the ground of which startled me into looking up)
  • Watch one young man brandish what looks like a baseball-bat-come-small-tree-trunk
  • Watch same young man swing at other young man with baseball-bat-come-small-tree-trunk
  • Watch third, older, man run up and throw bicycle at brandishing young man
  • Feel disappointed when brandishing man and bicycle-throwing man run out of sight
  • Feel ashamed at my instinctive – nay, feral – enjoyment of violence outside my own front door
  • Feel relieved that the car wasn’t damaged in the fracas
  • Watch second young man ride off on bicycle
  • Listen to shouts and yells out of sight as large group of youths run to join the fray
  • Watch youths suddenly scatter in all directions, hurling abuse at each other
  • Watch as three police cars with flashing lights appear too late to do anything

After discussion with a neighbour – and this is all hearsay so I can’t assert its veracity, though it has the ring of truth – it appears that the local drug dealers had a falling out, leading to one young man of fifteen taking a baseball-bat-come-small-tree-trunk to his own father’s head (the man who threw a bicycle at him); having, apparently, beaten up his own mother last week.  

‘Stay well out of it’ was the neighbour’s advice; which we’re inclined to take.

That all happened around six o’clock.  By seven-thirty, the Hub and I were sitting in a school hall, listening to what’s involved in sending our seventeen-year-old, drug-free, trouble-free, never-hit-either-of-his-parents, baseball-bat-come-small-tree-trunk-free son to university next year.

You can lead a youth to education, but you can’t make him think.  

The drugs see to that.


An Orgy Of Violence

25 Jan
Violence (role-playing game)

Violence (role-playing game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We often complain that violent video games are corrupting our children. That may or may not be true, depending on whether you believe studies or your scornful teenager; but it occurred to me on Wednesday night that entertainment has been corrupting our children forever.

On Wednesday night I watched a man be torn apart by his own mother, and his bodiless head put on display.  Women cavorted, naked, in the hills.  A pregnant woman was killed by lightning.  A male surrogate mother carried the baby to full term.  There was earthquake, fire, a razing. Crazed women ripped to shreds a herd of cows and beat frightened men with sticks.  Talk about your video nasty.

Only, it wasn’t nasty at all; it was art.  You can’t whack a good Greek tragedy: yes, the Hub and I watched Spud and his friends act out Euripides’ The Bacchae.  

It was set in the 1970s.  If that isn’t the perfect era for excess and lack of self-restraint, I don’t know what is.

Apart from the mother who chopped up her son (if I’m honest, an act with which I can empathise), which was done symbolically, the rest of it was mostly related as speech.  By my own son, but we’ll let that slide; he’s fairly well-balanced thanks to having two parental extremes.

Talking of which…the Hub had his camera, of course, and took photos throughout.  That would have been fine if it was a point-and-shoot, but he has an excellent camera.  Nothing kills the tension like the tuk-tuk-tuk of a flash being moved into another position; followed by a light which temporarily blinds the cast (admittedly, making the one blind character’s acting incredibly realistic); and the whiiiiiiiiiiine of the flash warming up again.

I always wondered what it was like to be the annoying person on the bus; now I know.  Mortifying.  For me, anyway; the Hub was too busy taking photos to notice.

The play was about eighty minutes long and I must have shushed the Hub enough to make him turn off his flash at some point, because the later photos are not as good, he reckons.  

I want to enjoy Spud’s starring role in The Tempest, so I have ordered the Hub to request permission to photograph the dress rehearsal.  The Hub says ‘no.’  He flat refuses to sit through Shakespeare twice.

Here is a sample of what they’re teaching our kids in school these days:

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

7 Mar

  There are a lot of bad people in the world.  People who cast a shadow over ordinary life; who leave us horrified at their unbelievable cruelty towards the defenceless: most recently, 23 swans killed for ‘sport’.  I don’t understand the mentality that would kill an animal for anything other than necessity.

The Hub drives me crazy but I can’t level the accusation ‘swan murderer’ at him; quite the opposite: a couple of years ago, a November Saturday night was enlivened by just such poultry.  Spud ran downstairs to tell us there was a swan in the road outside.  We all ran outside to see.  It lay there, perhaps stunned, in the middle of quite a busy street.  Someone had called the RSPCA but they refused to come out unless it was hurt, which it wasn’t at that stage.  We thought about calling the Queen because the Crown owns all swans, but I think she has karaoke on Saturday nights.

We were concerned about what might happen to the swan, between the cars, cats, dogs, foxes, and yobs with fireworks.  In fact, I don’t know why I’m surprised at this recent slaughter; how many times do we read of youths sticking fireworks up the bottoms of animals and lighting them?  Every year around bonfire night, that’s how many.  What chance would a stranded swan have in this neighbourhood? 

In the night shadows it seemed to have mistaken the road for water, and had simply settled down where it was.  It wouldn’t be coaxed or chased to safety, but it wasn’t aggressive, in spite of the crowd surrounding it.  The Hub talked to it for a bit, and tried to feed it some bread, which was refused.  Then he stroked its neck for ages.  He has real patience with animals and that’s half the battle.  Once it relaxed, he wrapped it in a blanket and carried it to the car, where it sat on Tory Boy’s knee, hissing occasionally, until they arrived at the local reservoir, where the Hub released it unharmed.  We call him ‘The Swan Whisperer’ now, because it trusted him so completely. 

What a privilege to get so close to such a magnificent creature!  I wasn’t the only one to think so: half the neighbours were out by the end, most too terrified to help, but sending it good thoughts (not everyone in this street is a firework-yielding, animal-hating thug, though we have our fair share).  The swan was terribly dignified, as befitted its royal status.  It was tagged, but the night was too dark to read it.  I’m sad that we’ll never know what happened to it.  Nothing good, I fear: there are no swans on the reservoir any more.

To save time and to stress the swan as little as possible, I had given the Hub my house key ring (you don’t ever leave a door unlocked around here; unless you like paying high insurance premiums), as it had the spare car key attached.  I had no desire to get into a confined space with a hissing bird; I opted to stay and make hot drinks instead.  As I waved off the Hub, Tory Boy, Spud and Swan, it suddenly occurred to me that I had given the Hub the spare car key with the house keys attached…I was locked out.  Eight o’clock on a winter’s night, with two expensive cameras around my neck and no coat, in a street that had six serious crimes last month, according to the government’s new crime map…

Fortunately for me, there were no serious crimes on our street that night.  The menfolk only took about twenty minutes, not wanting to hang around in a park in the shadows, for fear of arrest.  It only took a couple of hours for me to thaw.  The excitement made me quite hungry: I could have murdered some roast chicken.

Time For Kick-Off

13 Jun

It’s almost midnight and I’m supposed to be tucked up in bed, fast asleep; but my neighbours don’t want me to. Remember our seige a while back? We’ve just had the night version. I don’t have any photos for you this time, but I can give you an eyewitness account.

I was reading in bed when I suddenly heard screaming and I looked out of the window to see who I now know as thirteen-year old ‘Callum’ screaming at the flats opposite. I won’t bore you with the details – just take six teenagers, an England-US draw and some booze, throw in as many eff words as you can find, add one large family and assorted friends and neighbours, and you’ll get the idea. It all really kicked off, though, when Callum phoned his Dad to complain he’d been beaten up and Dad came tearing round in his car – which he abandoned in the middle of the street – and chased the lad who had touched his lad down the street.

It was about this point that I noticed a nosey woman in a ground floor flat opposite, watching the action from her open window. She was lucky not to get a brick through it: we’d already had the beatee kick a parked car and the beater urinate all over the same car until someone complained it was her friend’s car; that’s when the beater turned, water stick in hand, and continued his business in the road. That nosey woman really should know better than to let herself be seen by aggressive drunks – turn off the light like I do.

One family imploded, goading an elder sister who was trying to calm things down, encircling her in a rather frightening way, particularly given that they were all related. The police finally arrived at that moment, so the younger lads ran off to watch the Dad batter the beater of his son and then get arrested.

The head count was a little lower this time: only four police vehicles, two ambulances, four paramedics and eight cops. No guns, as far as I could see. The police stayed for about forty minutes, calming things down, warning some, cautioning others, and telling off my next door neighbour for interfering in police business when she came out in her nightie to complain that her grandchildren were trying to sleep.

Tempers finally cooled and the police and paramedics went off to tackle another bunch of volatile drunken England fans on another street just like ours elsewhere in the lovely town of Stockport. Some of the neighbours celebrated that no-one went to hospital or jail by cracking out the pear cider and Stella, and now a little party is taking place on the steps further up and some of the lads are yelling profanities at some of the mothers (not necessarily their own) and vice versa.

O, to be in England…not.

Snow: The Dirty Underbelly

7 Jan

The snow fun is starting to fade: the central heating is on all day, waiting to infect us with its germs; neighbours’ bones are being broken on ice traps; dog poo lurks beneath each virgin crunch.  Yesterday we took the boys to a new park so they could use their sled – fantastic bargain: I bought it in 1996 for £6.99; it’s made of cheap plastic (blue, naturally) but it has lasted the boys 13 winters.  They were having great fun coming down a hill and we were having great fun watching them, when we were suddenly under a hail of snowballs.  A bunch of lads thought we were a perfect target.  Fortunately, we were just behind a young tree and it gave us some protection; I moved Toby between us.   It wasn’t a normal, fun snowball fight, like my neighbour’s three daughters ganging up on him in the car park this morning;  it was a malicious targeting.  The Hub saw something similar the day before, when a gang of boys aimed a volley at two little girls – walking with their parents! – across the road.  He was in the car and reacted quickly enough to put it between the lads and their victims, so the snowballs (some with stones inside) were intercepted before they could do any damage.

The Hub had terse words with the lads firing at us (along the lines of ‘this stick’ and ‘shove it where the sun don’t shine’), but he was wasting his breath.  We moved away and the lads followed us.  It was horrible.  The question is, what do you do in such a situation?  In his younger, healthier and angrier days it wouldn’t have been a question at all, but the Hub is a little older, a lot less healthy, and very much wiser than he once was, and he knew it wasn’t worth fighting back: if they don’t bring out sticks, knives, stones, whatever, they know the law is on their side.  Any fightback on the Hub’s part and he’s the one facing jail for defending us.  Britain is a mess.  An Englishman’s home is no longer his castle, but the Council’s, who can walk in any time to check that you are recycling or illegally hypnotising your husband or for a thousand other reasons (see this link: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2785678/Shock-figures-reveal-high-numbers-of-council-staff-can-break-into-our-homes.html).  If his castle can no longer be defended then it follows he’s got no chance out on the street.  We did the sensible thing and walked away, but it stuck in the craw.  British citizens’ rights are being lost, one snowball at a time.

If you are wondering what our boys were doing while this was happening, Spud was oblivious to it, being too busy freewheeling down wet hillsides on an abandoned road sign.  Three slides in and the sled died, I’m sorry to report: the boys came down the hill together on it and hit the ramp they had been aiming for; the sled snapped in two and Tory Boy flew off on his piece to the left; Spud flew off right on the other.  Thank goodness for sign-stealing vandals, I say, or how would our children be able to play?

As soon as TB realised something was going on he went on alert.  He encouraged his brother to carry on sledding while he stood and watched carefully in case it all kicked off.  He is very much like his father and not afraid of a fight, but he has at least listened to Dad and doesn’t now just throw himself in there.  We have taught the boys not to be afraid of a fight, but to walk away from it if at all possible.  I would have liked to be able to teach them to turn the other cheek but, in the world in which we live, that could easily mean a bottle in the face.  I don’t want them turning a literal blind eye to trouble.

TB did not leave his post until we had walked away from the bother.  I was scared for him but proud of him.  But how I wish I wasn’t.  I would love to live in a place where there are no thugs roaming the streets; no vandals ripping down road signs; no viciousness.  I know it doesn’t exist, but I’d like to think it’s possible.  Perhaps I was Sir Thomas More in a previous life.

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