Friday, September 16, 2005

Not For Me, Thanks

We heard a case a week or two ago in which the facts were depressingly familiar. One-thirty in the morning, milling crowds of young men; much drink taken. The young men concerned repaired to the local minicab office, all buses and trains having finished service for the day, and there was then a violent incident or two. No serious injury was inflicted, but tension and fear reigned. The facts and result of the trial don't really matter, but what I find depressing is the fact that the bad-tempered and drunken squabble happened in a place that I used to haunt as a teenager when I was a pupil at the local school.

Now that I am in comfortable middle age, living in a quiet and pleasant area, I have, like so many people, arranged my life to avoid places like this one unless I am passing through at 30 mph in a car with the doors securely locked. The local residents bar their doors and windows, and the richer of them arrange for electric gates to seal them off from the disaffected and the inebriated.

The scene of the crime was in the middle of an area where the entry price of a three-bed house is about £300,000. The protagonists in the case that I tried were employed, and of previous good character.

No social class has a monopoly on drunken and yobbish behaviour. One of today's witnesses admitted to drinking seven to nine pints of strong lager, but said that he was not drunk. Questioned, he defined not drunk as being able to remain on his feet for long enough to speak to a police officer. Whom he then called a cunt.

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