Violence towards the Elderly concerns me a lot. Violence towards ME concerns me even more.
Or more accurately..the threat of violence. I was in Derry on Saturday. Came back to Belfast on the SDLP minibus…the designated adult “supervising ” the youngsters.
Walked the short distance from SDLP HQ on the Ormeau Road to Kentucky Fried Chicken at Shaftsbury Square. And then walked along Great Victoria Street. Several people about. It was daylight. Around 7.45pm. Crossing the road at Hope Street, I passed a couple of thugs…one of whom took some kinda dislike to me. Best not to look round. Just ignore the insults.
“Hey you are you English….the English are all bastards. I hate the English. You English bastard. The Irish are the friendliest people in the world….You f@@king smurf …I will f@@king stab you and stuff you in your f@@kin handbag (thats my lap top case by the way) …theres no f@@king camera in Belfast that will save you”.
Its less than one hundred metres from Hope Street to the Great Northern Mall and the railway station. An uncomfortable one hundred metres. This type of incident rarely happens to me. I dont usually encounter aggressive behaviour towards me. Its maybe twenty years since something like this happened. I am after all 60 years old and am rarely in situations like crowded bars where something might “kick off”.
Normally I take this kinda thing in a very personal way. Why…me? I tend to over-think things …I dont like to see unpleasantness. Yet oddly walking thru the Great Northern Mall to my train…I felt obviously relieved….that no violence had occurred. But even more oddly I found that I wasnt taking it personally. It could have happened to anyone. It just happened to me.
So…an asshole. And people encounter assholes on a daily basis. And I find myself in the unusual position of not really letting it get to me.
But a few thoughts. The chance of actual bodily harm was probably slim. Hardly more than ten per cent. And even then the “knife” was probably a bluff. More likely a couple of punches and a few kicks…and even then his mate might have been a restraining influence.
So annoying and even frightening…but interesting. Thats the thing about Blogging. I tend to see everything in the context of posting it here.
Although these two guys…probably 30 years old were obviously Irish rather than British, they were exactly the people that Michael Copeland was talking about at the SDLP Youth Conference earlier that day. They are disenfranchised, alienated thugs. They live in a violent drunken world barely noticed by “civilised” people and a sociologist might well say that this was an attempt to be noticed…a demand to be looked at. Yet their casual regard for violence and their indifference to being caught is truly disturbing.
There was always the ninety per cent chance that it was just words. And a ten percent chance of….a black eye…a cracked rib….a night or two in hospital…or…..whatever.
And a day in a PSNI interview room and an identity parade. And a day in court and for them….probably in my view…a short prison sentence. Too short. Whatever…my life would have been disrupted rather more than theirs. To them it was just another day out.
Were they drunk? Certainly. Had they taken drugs? Probably.
And thats maybe what annoys me most….that in their day in court…wearing the suit they keep for their appearances in court….their solicitor will stand before a Judge and say ” my client bitterly regrets the incident. He had taken a lot of alcohol….” But is that actually MITIGATION? Is it not an aggravating circumstance?
If a motorist is spotted speeding and arrested two days later the same solicitor would not seek mitigation from the Judge by saying. ” Go easy on him your honour…he didnt know he was speeding because of the drink”