'who's this creepy dude on the bike?'
i glance up at the impudent mug
of a spiky-haired kid of no more than 11 or 12
'who are you lookin' at?'
impudent spiky-haired kid intones rudely
as i cycle by
loud enough for his mates to hear
as they lark about in the background
among a scattering of discarded steel and aluminium
as i head for the park exit
ISPK has now worked himself up into a lather of hate
'i'll f***ing something or other! he yells
to anyone who might be listening
accompanied by a scampering of feet
for a moment i think he might be intending to jump me from behind
but thankfully i am pedalling alone
through the sanctuary of sedate eymore close
my immediate worry is for other passers-by
who may be subjected to a similar onslaught or worse
perhaps someone who can't take care of themselves
a schoolkid or elderly person
i am also indignant
what gives these kids the right
to make my local park a no-go area?
(some of h's korean schoolpals were threatened
a few weeks ago at her birthday party
when they tried to play football)
once home i quickly google the local police switchboard
the operator tells me she'll inform the local 'asbo patrol car'
she takes my name, address and number but no one calls back
when i go back yesterday armed with a binbag and litterpicker
the area is spotless
some other friend of the park got there before me
perhaps cameraman's big society is not a total dead duck!...
my thoughts return to asbo kid
what kind of childhood has he had?
what kind of encouragement or opportunities?
what makes him rail against complete strangers twice his size?
how could this kid turn out so different from my own?
what are his life chances?
what are the chances he'll be in youth custody in a few years time?
what kind of fabulously wealthy society
produces this kind of casualty?