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"Playing with knives….."
What's going on?
Have I awoken from a 5-year coma following my shoulder operation 2-months ago and no one has told me?
Once I overcome the grogginess following the ½ hour procedure, and had managed sufficient sleep and snoozing, I checked my mobile phone for messages noting that those that had come through all stated the same date - 29th March 2006 - that I had gone into hospital, only it was 6-hours later and I was feeling a hell of a lot more pain in my right shoulder … plus it looked damn messy to!
Yet, it appears as though the world has gone even more insane overnight than I had remembered … 51 stabbings there were over this last weekend in the UK, 2 of them fatal. The Police currently have a weapon, or more specifically, knives amnesty in the UK, encouraging the public to give up their weapons.
Have you seen some of the weapons that have been handed in on the news?! Seriously, I was astonished and slightly scared! Even Rambo would have been amazed by some of the elaborate designs of the knives that were handed in, and that's probably the most shocking thing. Kids aren't just carrying their Mother's blunted kitchen knives that won't chop a tomato; they're carrying weapons that even a G.I. Joe salivates about. It's madness! How are kids getting their hands on such weapons (the internet no doubt)? And how are they legally available in the UK (They're not)? Parents must take more responsibility then must they? Is this really an option? Does any parent suspect that their child may go out carrying a knife? Do some parents even care? How can a child manage to conceal a weapon such as a meat cleaver or samurai sword? How can they hide them in their homes without their parents finding them and questioning it?
51 stabbings as a percentage of the overall population (What is it in the UK now? 58 Million?) is very little … you have to go to the 4th decimal place to get a figure 0.0001%, and still have to go to the 2nd decimal place if you multiplied that total by each day in the year, if the rate of stabbings continued as per over the weekend but in a single day ~ 0.03%
Ok, I am far from naive when it comes to many of the shenanigans that occur in modern day life, and whilst not the most travelled person compared to some, I have visited and been out in enough of the UK's roughest and toughest cities and many of Europe's capital cities to be street wise enough to know what's going on, yet this whole carrying of knives thing seems to have rather crept up on me! I'll admit, I don't manage to watch the news as often as I should, because I am rarely home to catch it and by 10 o'clock, my housemate is usually monopolising the lounge and watching some other shite on television, but have I rarely had my head buried in the pillow on this one?!
When I was a lad …. See, that phrase just had to come! … I recall one stabbing during my lifetime at high school. That is 7-years of high-school education, as our 6th form college was also at our school, with only the one stabbing incident. This actually occurred at a neighbouring school and was an incident with a screwdriver as opposed to a knife, so it fortunately had less of an impact upon the victim. The victim was a lad that later played in the same Sunday league football team as me, but it was a rare and shocking incident during my school days. It certainly was not rare to fight being from Liverpool, and - in fact - it was pretty much the order of the day, with fights between rival "gangs" often occurring after school. Such fights were probably a result of 3 rival high schools within a small town in the north of Liverpool and additionally fuelled by the fact one was Catholic. Kids loved any excuse to want to fight, and the fact that there was a religious difference - though no one knew exactly what real connotations this held - made it all the more easier, or dare I say worthwhile?! However, weapons were rare in the early years, with "tools" and "being tooled up" only coming into any sort of prominence in
the later years (mid 90's). Yet, such phrases usually referred to a stick, a baseball bat, knuckle-dusters, and other such fairly lethal weapons of choice, but certainly not weapons that would lead to the instantaneous fatalities we are facing with knives today.
To my parents, I knew this was astonishing, as my Father had always dealt with pure bare-knuckled fighting, and one on one dispute resolution. Another quirk of modern day society, whereby gangs team up to inflict pain and suffering on individuals! How does that gain respect and not promote cowardice? At least in my Father's day and my earlier schooling years, if you were involved in a fight, it was fairly guaranteed that it would be one-on-one and there were no weapons involved.
If people are going to disagree and fall out, then Boxing is the "honourable" way to fight, if fighting is indeed considered necessary. Boxing… A noble art some might say, me certainly being one of them, but I know many would disagree citing it as violence all the same. Fair enough … people have different boundaries and are entitled to free speech and opinion, so does that make me a hypocrite in terms of modern day living? Is this something we should come to expect because to our children, this is the "norm", and what was the "norm" to us as children was not to our Parents?!
I had such an insightful conversation with my Father just after my Operation two months ago when we were spending days together, because he's retired and potters around the house most days! My parents can't recall seeing a truly great film, or even a half-decent one for that matter, on the television for a long-long time. My Dad is 67 and Mother is 52 (Good Boy!!!! Hahaha … I hope I can be a dirty old dog too Daddy!! Tehe) so what they - more so my Father - considered to be great movies are now considered as "classics". Film is one particular example of how times have changed and moved on, and what was considered as taboo or risqué in my Fathers generation is not so much now, and slowly but surely the level of tolerance increases, as it becomes the "norm" for each passing generation. However, does this actually mean that this is right and this is the way it should be? There is a British Board of Film Classification who make decisions as to what can and cannot be screened in British cinema, with Stanley Kubrick's a "Clockwork Orange" banned for many years until the last decade or so, when the ban was lifted.
I mention film because it's greater tolerance of certain issues, as well as the boundaries being pushed by television, may make way for the argument concerning the usage of knives, in the same manner that certain films are pilloried for causing / contributing to subsequent criminal acts in society. It's an interesting theory that may or may not hold water. It certainly does hold water if you appreciate that not all people in society are of sound and rationale mind and are able to make clear distinctions between right and wrong. However, is this so when you are talking about youngsters, who are not of considered maturity to always know the difference between right or wrong / good or bad? Hence, maybe the fact that many youngsters, if surveyed, would not consider it either bad or wrong to be carrying knives.
There are a number of wider issues and considerations at play in terms of this whole subject, and I am certainly not going to delve deeply into them here, but I will attempt to give at least some a mention, scratching the surface sufficiently to provoke thought.
I have briefly mentioned the potential influence of film and television on the actions of society, and in the same vain, computer / video games can be taken within the same context. Many computer / video games today are very graphic and include images of characters carrying weapons / knives for protection on the streets. It has already been argued by some, that this has a subliminal impact upon society, and it is almost ingrained within the subconscious that this is the norm and therefore it is not necessarily questioned or considered by the mind that this is wrong or bad. I don't personally have a fully formed opinion on this, but I can see the logic in the argument that there could be an influence on younger members of society.
The central issues concerning weapon carrying are for "protection" purposes, because enough people feel vulnerable or suitably threatened to want to protect themselves. Considering the number of "unprovoked" attacks within the statistics mentioned, I think things are a little more concerning, as I don't recall one incident whereby someone has mentioned they were being attacked and acted in self-defence by stabbing someone! Not that this would actually provide any suitable justification, in my mind, for carrying a weapon in the first place! The notion to me of carrying a weapon borders on insanity and suggests that if you are carrying a weapon, you have an intention, at some stage to use it, which leads to a whole host of concerns regarding the state of society and the absolute lack of regard for someone else's life. I have been to South Africa, and seen what disregard for human life there is in cities such as Johannesburg, and it's sickening and shocking, but is that the way things are starting to build up over here? I don't, for one second believe things will ever become that bad in the UK, but I purely draw a comparison with the mentality to emphasise a point.
When I have heard of some of the incidents involved in people losing their lives because of a knife attack, it demonstrates the fragility of human life and strikes me just how easily it can occur. Has it come to the point whereby individuals will be too scared to intervene in a situation or argument for fear of losing their lives? A man in Nottingham was stabbed at the weekend and is currently in a critical position at the cities Queens Medical Centre (QMC) hospital; having come to the aid of a female he saw being attacked in the street. He was knifed in the stomach and the back for his bravery and public spiritedness.
I have had a few occasions in my lifetime when I have been the subject of an "unprovoked" attack purely because someone is looking or trouble. In all honesty, I am not one too back down if someone is intent on bullying me or worse and have often stood up for myself, but it's increasingly more dangerous to do so these days. I have stated in other reviews that I am not a violent person and I do not go looking for trouble, which is true, but in my University days, the lads knew me as someone who could quite easily get involved in a fight because I had a considerably short fuse. A little self analysis here, so forgive me, but it will become relevant…. ! As I was often bullied at school in a verbal way more than physical way, it had a negative impact upon me as a person and made me question my own worth and why people felt it necessary to bully me in this way. It actually made me a stronger person long-term, but it did get me down a lot at school, to the extent that I would often get in there first with people who verbally bullied me and sometimes with others who had not! So, in some camps I become a little less popular in my final year of school. Although, my closest mates found this to be an incredible source of amusement and often "egged" me on… childish! Anyway, my view and expectation of society from then on, and especially into University, was for bullying to continue in it's different guises and so if someone looked at me in a "funny" way, similar to how someone would in Liverpool when they are "looking" for trouble, I would become aggravated and frustrated by it and often return a look as if to say "what's your problem?". This could on occasion provoke trouble, but not necessarily a fight, but I was by this stage angered and ready to stand up for myself if it became physical. Anyway, having finished University, I grew up and realised that not every bloke that looks at me for an extended period of time in a bar is actually
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looking for trouble, but when indeed they are, it's best to ignore them, because otherwise you are playing right into their hands and really, what is the point?!
But, there are occasions when trouble is just unavoidable! How so you may ask? There are just some people in the world that are hell bent on trouble, and we call such people, and forgive me for the use of the phrase, "wankers"! One such wanker attacked me only 2 weeks ago, completely unprovoked when I was enjoying a night out with friends. I had only had my shoulder operation 2 weeks before and had returned on this particular Sunday home to Derby having spent the previous 2 weeks recovering in Liverpool. My recovery was by no means complete and I was still moving fairly gingerly and certainly protecting my shoulder as much as possible, unable to move it fully in a circular motion.
I was out with 8 girls from work, and my mate Adam, who decided to return home early because he was tired. I was enjoying a good evening catching up with everyone and was stood speaking to two of the girls, when a bloke I had never met before barged past my left shoulder, almost knocking me off of my feet. Let's call this bloke "Wayne". Wayne then turned quickly on his heels to face me and banged his bottle of lager on my pint glass causing me to look up at him and wonder exactly what was going on. He asked quite coolly "What's your problem?". Rather concerned by this nutters demeanour, yet remaining calm, I answered "I've not got one!" and turned away to continue my conversation. Wayne persisted and must have asked me on no less than 8 occasions what my problem was. Each time I answered that I didn't have one, but become a little vexed with the issue before me. I decided that Wayne was not going to go away, and decided to engage him in conversation to try and decipher what his issue was and diffuse it, expecting that I would "befriend" him and have a laugh. I asked him how his evening and bank holiday weekend had been and he coolly engaged in conversation, which reassured me until he said he was having a good laugh until he come across "twats like me!". "Hmmm", I thought, "…this bastard doesn't give in!". He then questioned me again as to what my problem was? Rather annoyed by the fact that Wayne was intent on causing trouble and also very concerned at just how cool and obviously calculated he was, I answered for a final time… "I don't have an issue, I have already informed you. I have no desire to get involved in trouble so you have picked on the wrong person and I suggest you look elsewhere!"
His grip was like a vice around my neck, and my pint flew across most of the girls stood near me, as he flung me hard against the wall, before I really knew what was going on. All I felt then was the searing pain of the shoulder that I had recently had operated, as I hit the wall and fell to the floor, instantly curling up into a ball, knowing that probably wasn't the finish of it. I felt a kick to the base of my spine, which has triggered off back problems I thought I had been clear of and now need to undertake physio for, before the Bouncer pulled him off of me and ejected him.
This particular incident demonstrates the fragility of human life and the ease with which you can come to harm. If Wayne had a weapon, I would have been in much more serious trouble than I was come the finish of the attack, and may not have been here now to type the review. It's not particularly healthy to think in this manner, but it's not something I have and would dwell upon, it's just a chilling thought linked to the review I am writing.
There are many questions that can be asked in terms of why some people feel it fit to behave in such a manner and attack, injure, maim, and kill people, but my lack of understanding classifies me in a category that could never carry a knife, weapon, or is capable of such action.
The final question has to be whether an amnesty is good enough? To me, the answer is quite clearly no and the issue, like any, has to be tackled at source.