Violence is on the decline? A 12% fall in the number of people injured in serious violence across England and Wales last year? Are the men of GB going soft?! Next they'll be drinking sensibly and always eating whilst they do so like the mainland Europeans with their sophisticated way of going on at night. I've scoured France, Germany, Italy and Spain for the heart-warming apocalyptic vision of blokes battering each other whilst mini-skirted birds sprawl in gutters filled with lager and vomit - to no avail. All I've seen are youths talking over food, or not even drinking, with their bloody scooters parked up. And girls mostly well-dressed, not even thinking of showing their big tattooed backsides (that have swallowed g-strings) to passing cops, ambulances or film crews - useless!
I don't know. It can't be true. I grew up with violence on a regular basis. As a young teen at the local disco, which was actually a boxing ring with added music and dancing, there was always a scrap. Skin, suedehead, smoothie, greaser; it didn't matter where you were at, sartorially, it was where you were from. In the sticks they still acted as if the tribe in the next village might raid yours one day, steal your stash of slaughtered deer and rape your women. They probably would.
Trips to a disco on their turf was perilous. Watch your back. Are they eye-balling us? Luckily, we had village elders (late-teens) to protect us. I was always well-armed. Well, actually, it was my legs that saved me, being good at covering ground fast. That's why I ran for the school. I trained outside discos and on the playing fields. It's no coincidence that this got made...
Skinhead girls weren't to be messed with, either, not with those steel combs tucked in the top pocket of their two-tone jackets. I saw two go at it once. It was mayhem. Chairs and glasses flying everywhere.
Slade, reggae, Gary Glitter - half that music was made to match disco bloodshed, so it seemed. Some cashed in on us big time...
But I grew up, took a few knocks and by the time I got hospitalised in the early-80s I had long realised that violence was a terrible thing. That tragic first resort of the flying fist (or worse) unleashed by desperate, dissatisfied working-class youths; it sickens and saddens me now.
Once upon a time I felt the same anger, despondency and frustration borne of failure to realise one dream, or even have a dream worth pursuing. No hope. What are you going to do? Get pissed, destroy. You've got no ideology to fight for so you punch someone who's in the same boat. You keep on punching and kicking until you get too old, then you turn and punch yourself, every night, in the guts, your fattening guts, because the glory days are gone, the disco's over, the lights are on and you like yourself even less than that dodgy-looking bird you were dancing with when the music stopped.
Well, using selective memory as a sieve, what's left are golden years, partly because of all the aggro, along with the music and clothes. Violence livened up my otherwise dull life, just as it does for some today. I only hope that in years to come less and less young men feel the same when they look back and that 12% figure keeps rising.