Friday, October 02, 2009

Meeting The Locals

Wednesday evenings have somehow become take-away night. The reasons for this are far too mundane to go into so I shall skip them. But being a connoisseur of the fish & chip supper I’ve been taking myself off to the local chippie at the appointed hour there to purchase the finest cod and chips that my hard won money can buy.

It’s a mere 5 minute walk to the top of the street but it does take me through the badlands – the rough end of the street; the wrong side of the tracks, etc.

By and large I’ve encountered no trouble but have passed some sights that have encouraged an occasional bout of rubber-necking. Couples arguing in cars. The contents of front rooms scattered over DIY gravel drives. And enough snotty nosed 7 year old smoking Marlborough’s to make me think this country’s potential population explosion might be naturally capped in about 40 year’s time.

This Wednesday, however, was different.

There I was, my freshly wrapped chips slung under my arm, heading towards home when 4 lanky youths disembarked very untidily from a house on the other side of the street.

Naturally, minding my own business, I attracted their dubious attention.

Initially I got the ubiquitous “alright mate”. I admit I didn’t respond. I’m rather choosy about whom I consider to be a mate. Maybe this was my mistake? The next two comments were plainly insults – I can’t even recall what they were – followed by loud, rather effeminate hooting laughter.

I didn’t respond again. I carried on walking. Neither quickening nor slowing my pace. Curiously I didn’t actually feel threatened. I’d quickly surmised that these paragons of teenage virtue were no more than 14 or 15 and were merely being buoyed up by each other’s leaking testosterone. On their own they wouldn’t have said boo to a goose.

But afterwards I did feel angry. Not seething, blood boiling angry but angry in a “maybe I should have crossed the road and lamped one of them” kind of angry. Why should they be allowed to get away with such behaviour? What makes them think they can act so aggressively to complete strangers and not have any come-back?

I know, I know.

It’s not worth the risk of a flick-knife in the guts. I’ve got a wife and kids at home. I’ve got cod and chips under my arm. All they’ve got is their own inferiority driving them on to acts of desperate foolhardiness.

But nevertheless the anger was there. Little shits.

In the past I have responded when a complete stranger has seen fit to be arsy with me in the street. I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve just hit boiling point straight away and launched in with some particularly nasty vitriol. The old adage that lions roar so loudly to avoid combat has held true. My opponent has usually turned tail and beat a mouthy retreat.

Afterwards I’ve usually kicked myself for being so damned stupid. But I can’t deny that I’ve also felt a small, glowing sense of satisfaction that I’ve held my own. Stuck up for myself. Taken no shit.

This Wednesday I was just too tired, too preoccupied, and possibly more sensible.

But even so. I can’t help wishing I’d kicked some ass.

Do you think it’s possible I have been exposed to a small dose of gamma radiation?


34 comments:

justme said...

I find smiling at them sometimes helps......because you really DON'T need the hassle....

Steve said...

Justme: I don't think that would work for me. I have an uncanny ability to smile and be provocative at the same time...!

meva said...

Did you turn a little green and have the seam of your shirt sleeve burst asunder?

(Burst asunder! *snort*)

I, too, have had the urge to launch into a string of vitriol at yoof's stoopidness.

But then I remember I'm the grown-up. Just like you did.

Steve said...

Meva: curse this growing up malarkey - it's no fun at all. Though I suppose it might keep me alive for a little while longer...!

French Fancy said...

I really do sympathise because I'm the sort of person that has to speak out if someone or something out there is just not right. However, if you'd have dragged it out then the cod and chips would have got cold and nothing is worse than that - reheating in a microwave is not the same.

Nah, you did the best thing all round but I really do understand how you wanted to kick arse- and no doubt you would have.

Steve said...

FF: you're right. Fish & chips beats beefcake any day of the week. Plus one against four... not sure the odds would have been in my favour...!

Selina Kingston said...

I'm so glad you ignored them. My husband says things like this sometimes and then I see things on the news about good men who saw off a bunch of scallys only to leave their wife a widow.
He's just gone off to get our Friday chips - I'm nervous now ....

Steve said...

Selina: how bizarre - my wife has just said the exact same thing to me! You're probably both right. Hope your hubby gets home soon to put your mind at rest - and enjoy those chips! ;-)

Tenon_Saw said...

Become a teacher in a comprehensive school and you can experience it every day!

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: but have less scope for fighting back I'd imagine...!

missbehaving said...

You did the right thing AND you protected the F&C. Must admit I felt a little scared reading the post, and then other people's comments seem to indicate this kind of situation is fairly common, which is even scarier.

Steve said...

MissBehaving: I'd never thought of it before but actually it is failry common. Not everyday but I don't know of a single person who hasn't encountered a situation of this kind. And to be honest some do end in tragedy - a father was killed only last year by a gang of youths. It's very sobering. Walking away is thw wisest thing but at the same time something needs to be done to curb this antisocial behaviour in the young. Gang culture is deeply unpleasant.

Inchy said...

Steve, I can tell you exactly what would have happened had you dived in.
1. You would have got an almighty kicking. No offence to your pugilistic skills, but you would probably have typed this post from a hospital bed.
2. A man in a black uniform would have arrived at your house and would proceed to charge you with common assault.

Neither outcome works in your favour Steve.

Steve said...

Inchy: option (1) I admit would have been most likely given the odds (and I'd left my utility belt at home) and option (2) I hadn't even considered in my hotheadedness but you are undoubtedly right. Seems I have much to learn, Jedi Master.

Löst Jimmy said...

The Spanish word 'Bestias' springs to mind when describing like groups of 'worthies'. I live right in the middle of such tainted mess of a street as you describe. It can be scary, intimidating and hilairious all pretty much at the same time on occasions. As you rightly note as individuals these louts would exercise themselves in a quiet fashion even dare I say it politely but as a 'horde' then it is the posturing, the bravado and sorry outcomes. Sad to say Inchy is probably right but I know your feelings after not confronting them, there has been many times that I would have liked to get all Bruce Lee on their pathetic frames.
Only three times in my whole miserable life have I blindly waded-in, each occasion I was lucky, or foolish even. Many other times I have just walked on, later feeling the pangs of guilt from what your mind says you should've done. I comfort myself with the belief that having a go now would more likely lend yourself open to a lawsuit or lock-up as the 'innocent' instigators plead the usual raft of mitigation...sad life, bad upbringing, lost giro etc etc

Changing the mood somewhat, Fish and Chips...veritable KING of FAST FOOD!
I thoroughly enjoyed by dose last night, Fridays are made for Fish Suppers.

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: more wise words. At one time, when I was younger I would sometimes feel that a day in court would be worth the hassle just to get some instant satisfaction, figuring that as I have no criminal record a first offense might be taken a little more lightly with mitigating circumstances of my own (your honour, the defendant is plainly scum) but now, with kids, I don't really want them to grow up with their dad tarred as an old lag... but then again, should I be out and about with my kids and these idiots start something... hmm... I really couldn't be held responsible.

Inchy said...

Anyway, back to the fish - batter or breadcrumbs?

Steve said...

Inchy: when it's from a proper chip shop - always batter. When it's homemade - breadcrumbs.

Owen said...

Ah Steve, the e-mail porn spammers, the maritime pirates, the louts with switchblades, the rapists let out of jail, the gangs, the drug dealers, all such human scum are everywhere, and they are multiplying like rabbits these days. And the police are never there when you need them. Don't know if you ever read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", a lovely book about a father and his son, largely autobiographical, though told as fiction. His son was knifed to death on a San Francisco street corner by some strangers who approached him as he walked home. So what is the solution ??? Sometimes these idiots don't just accept someone walking away from them, especially if they are interested in your wallet. Should one carry a bigger knife, like Crocodile Dundee ? The problem with knives, even big ones, is that you have to get near the scum to use them... and that can get messy... So perhaps you should equip yourself with a sawed off 12 gauge repeating shotgun that you could conceal under your coat...and shoot them in the knees if they get too close... well, I'm obviously only kidding, but the world is becoming a sadly more violent place, and if set upon by wolves, should one simply lie down and be devoured ? I really don't know. I used to carry a can of mace when I lived in Paris and parked my car in an underground garage. Fortunately I never had to use it, but I heard tale after tale of people being beat up, stabbed, etc... A real conundrum... for decent folks like us, with families, who want to live to see our kids grow up...

PS Uzi makes some pretty neat little compact models...
;-D

Steve said...

Owen: the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place - so much for being civilized, eh? Personally I'm thinking of trying to acquire a US tazer gun from ebay... then I can really make the buggers dance...! ;-)

Owen said...

You may want to get four tasers, and mount them on a bracket so you can fire four simultaneous taser needles... and just hope you don't meet five of them the next time...

Also there are ways to make a portable flame-thrower out of a common garden spray pump bottle usually used for spraying weed killers or what not... many people have a visceral fear of great balls of fire aimed in their general direction...

Now don't get the wrong idea about me, I don't usually think about such things, all of the above is said tongue in cheek, and I certainly don't recommend violence of any sort, but one cannot help but play out in one's mind such scenarios while still buzzing with the adrenaline such incidents set loose in the bloodstream. I will never forget the time my wife was badly frightened but fortunately not badly hurt when an enraged motorist kicked in the driver side door of our car while she was standing between the door and the car itself... and should I have reacted to the messages my brain was sending to my limbs, which I didn't do, I would no doubt have ended up with months of legal problems to follow, if not prison time, as well as bodily injuries... so I guess a natural reaction is to imagine what one would have done if one was not restrained by the veneer of civilization and the fear of judicial punishment...

Löst Jimmy said...

Battered beats Breadcrumbs for me

cherie said...

no, you have matured. i like your post, and frankly, i've always been intrigued by fish and chips. wonder where i can by that over here...hmmm...

Steve said...

Owen: I think imagining revenge in your mind is the only real sane reaction - it's safer, has no consequences and possibly acts as a release valve for the natural anger. Having said that, your 4 tazer supergun sounds marvellous and I'm heading over to eBay now. Purely to test the scientific principals involved, you understand...

Löst Jimmy: I understand totally where you're coming from. A carton of mushy peas is also a must.

Cherie: matured? That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me (and possibly the most inacurate)! ;-) There must be somewhere in the US that sells UK style fish & chips but Lord knows where it is. This could be a job for Dr Google!

Valerie said...

There is too much tolerance, yet what else can we do. This kind of behaviour is what makes the elderly stay home. You did the right thing, though.

missbehaving said...

I had no idea that 'most' people have experienced this sort of behaviour, sort of makes me appreciate the realtive safety we live. I wouldn't think twice about going into underground parking alone at night here, teenage daughter will have the BF walk her home from the station or she'll walk up andI'll walk down to meet up. That said, I don't live in a city and we have no fish and chips,
which I LOVE, with batter, and mushy peas.

Steve said...

Valerie: I agree. Never thought I'd hear myself say this but I think we've become far too liberal as a society.

MissBehaving: where I live, Leamington, is a pretty big town but not a city by any means but we are sandwiched between Coventry and Birmingham that are. Not sure if that makes any difference or not. What tends to happen is that people from the smaller neighbouring towns all come to Leamington at night for things to do... that leads to tension sometimes. But, a lot of the trouble is from the locals and this seems to be common up and down the country. I hate to say it, but I blame the parents in most cases...

Inchy said...

The problem, as I see it, is that as a society we are now reluctant to 'punish' people, instead preferring to 'educate' people.
Someone who commits a crime can no longer just be a bad person, they must have deep rooted psychological issues which, if confronted, would help them to become a decent, law abiding, valued member of the community.

All of which is bollocks quite frankly. We have allowed a situation to occur where people no longer feel that they have to take responsibility for their behaviour. I have a few friends who are serving police officers and I hear the stories straight from the coal face of how they arrest the same people time and time again yet the courts simply will not hand down a custodial sentence and take these ar*eholes off our streets.

A Write Blog said...

You did the right thing.

Never get involved with a mob. That's what they were, a mob; albeit a small one.

There is nothing in modern society to challenge these youths. That's why they carry knives; as much to protect themselves from the percieved danger of other youths.

It's a sad reflection of the fact that authority these days daren't show its face and if it does it has to diguise itself as some fluffy non-threatening entity which the youths interpret, correctly, as being weak.

Steve said...

Inchy: I agree giving yobs a nice holiday in the south of France is going to do little to deter their behaviour - if anything all such treatment does is reward and therefore encourage it. But prisons are another problem - they've fast become crime schools. Some yobs goes in for petty crime and comes out with the contacts to pull off a major bank job. I'm really not sure what the answer is. Prison ships? Hard labour? Medical experimentation?

AWB: totally agree: society has become a very weak, very bad parent who's hands-off approach is producing a generation who know their own rights inside out but don't give a toss about anybody else's...

The Sagittarian said...

I guess it's different for guys, but I think you probably did the right thing (altho' maybe a grunt of acknowledgement at the 'alright mate' comment may have been a good idea...)as a woman of the female gender, whenever I'm out at night with my fish and chips (like you a mere 5 minute stroll) I must look like a furtive rat, glancing here and there and scurrying homeward...

Steve said...

Amanda: a year ago a young father was beaten to death by a gang of teens for daring to intervene... Karen has made it very clear that idiotic heroics are definitely against the house rules and male pride is a poor subsititute for a loving family. I'm happy to concede...!

Building Materials Supplies said...

Meeting The Locals

Thanks for sharing!

Steve said...

Er... thanks.