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Thursday, 22 February 2007

South East London

Last Friday morning I woke up in a glamorous hotel room in a wonderful European capital, unusually rested for someone with young sleep deterrent children. I was ready to conduct my wonderful presentation - describing my groundbreaking work with all and sundry.

To my horror, over breakfast I read the headline of The Times, cataloging gun crime in southeast London. There was a map on the cover with Dulwich in the middle, and sites of recent shootings - Streatham, Clapham, Peckham and Brixton surrounding it. Oh dear.

We must keep our heads down in Dulwich, for fear that we get hit by the bullets flying overhead. Evidence of violence or aggression such as this, does not usually intrude into my daily life, and so to a degree I can ignore the terrible state of the society in which I live. I realise that I am incredibly lucky in leafy Dulwich in this regard.

Yesterday morning however on the top deck of the number 3 bus (I know, I do go on a bit) two young well dressed white girls got on and sat in a row ahead of me. The bus was unusually full as West Dulwich train station was closed - a man had been horribly beaten at the station the night before on a train from Victoria. Police and yellow tape were everywhere.

I was not in the slightest bit interested in the conversation that these girls were having, but not hearing what the girls were saying was not an option. I made a vein attempt to listen to the MP3 player on my phone - unsuccessful as usual, obviously. The girls talked loudly and articulately for over thirty minutes describing graphically their various sexual experiences while the rest of the passengers sat in silence. One of the very well spoken pair described her recent 18th birthday party, so they were not underage. I really could not bear to describe the content of their conversation in depth, but it was basically describing the merits of a circumcised lover. The bus was very full, and everyone on board was squirming and uncomfortable.

I was horrified and sat praying that my baby girl grows up to have more self respect than these two hapless characters, and further, that my son is never unfortunate enough to fall in love with anyone this indiscreet and hurtful.

Suddenly, I heard a woman's voice from a row ahead say the word;


and she turned around from a forward seat and held her hand out to the girls and continued;

'please stop, enough already'.

I was so relieved. These two very middle class girls, sounded initially rather shocked.

To my horror, within ten minutes they were engaged again in their loud conversation. One claiming that the woman in front was racist, because this girl claimed she is one quarter Chinese!

My heart went out to the woman who had objected. I was horrified by the complete lack of responsibility, self awareness and self respect of these girls, but further by the fear of the charge they were making.

London is indeed, at times, a very threatening place to live......


Anonymous said...

Well dear heart, if you will insist in living South of the river what do you expect?
Things are much calmer here in leafy Hampstead....
We are yet to have one drug gang related shooting, armed robbery in Waitrose (nothing so low class as Sainsbury here) or fellow passenger being flung from a train at ...where was it again? Dulwich? Hmmm!

dulwichmum said...

I would love to argue with you on this, but I have just come home from work, and popped into Tesco on Croxted Road for some milk. There is a big yellow sign outside saying there was an armed robbery there last week!

I think that no-where is perfect anymore, my idyl has been shattered! I would imagine that everywhere is the same in this regard actually.