In the aftermath of this meet up where two gangs of school kids – apparently including a number of Somalis* – arranged to rumble at Victoria Station, and where a boy died from a stabbing, I’ve heard a certain amount of the usual noises on the radio about our ‘broken society’ etc.
But it’s not a new phenomenon, is it? White youth used to routinely ‘get it on’ on post-war Bank Holiday Mondays. In the 1970s in Stoke-on-Trent when I was a kid rumbles were often arranged on the fields (ex-train lines and escarpments, grassed over and called ‘Greenways’) between Chell High School and Stanfields. Knives were not all all that common, but some kids had them. Perhaps the difference back then was that their owners were mainly afraid to use them, their real function was ‘show’. Other, ‘softer’ implements and articles that came to hand tended to be put to use as a weapon, perhaps so that no one would get seriously hurt, so that we could all meet up and do it again the following Thursday. It was, after all, very exciting (and it was, after all, them that started it, not us). Their were near misses all the same – the most deadly, and inventive, missile to come my way was a golf ball fired from a huge catapault. It missed me by millimetres but knocked my mate’s two front teeth out. I imagine it could have killed someone if it caught them right.
* I stumbled across this unpleasant and rabid extremist site called London Patriot as I was looking for a news story on this. In three or four bizarre steps the writer, the unlikely-named Carlos Cortiglia (have you had your blood lines checked out, mate?) gets from this story to a cat stuck up a tree and how that is New Labour’s fault. Still, I suppose it probably is.
** Seventies football chant