Child’s play

Burning London

I did some daft things when I was a kid.

Sky Tennis ranked pretty highly in the idiotic stakes. The sole aim of a sport we hoped would one day make Olympics, was to hit a tennis ball as high into the air as possible. Simple. I think there may have been some rudimentary scoring involved, and, had this taken part on a tennis court, it could quite easily have been dismissed as nothing but harmless, boyish fun.

Only, Sky Tennis took place in our street, which was a tiny cul-de-sac, littered with cars.

My dad only found out about the existence of this ground-breaking sport recently and wasn’t amused to find out his own car was regularly on the receiving end of a tennis ball that had kissed the ozone layer before plummeting back to earth, its increasing speed rendering it as heavy as Dawn French. We gave up Sky Tennis, thankfully, after my friend suggested we try playing it with a golf ball.

The withdrawal of Sky Tennis left a gaping void which had to be filled. We needed more excitement so, one afternoon, decided to throw various pieces of rubbish, wood and discarded bread into a neighbour’s back garden. This followed a long-running dispute with the neighbour who, from what I can recall, did nothing other than be fat. Suffice to say, he got very cross indeed and gave us a proper telling off. A brief moment of chaos ensued as one particularly supportive parent came rushing to our aid brandishing a golf club. No one got hurt, but lots of naughty words were exchanged, much to our amusement.

This all happened during a fairly brief period. We were perhaps 12-13. Young, inexperienced, inexplicably angry at everything and happy to discover enjoyment in the most destructive of activities. There’s nothing wrong with that and I don’t regret any of it – we were kids.

Listening to Radio 5 Live this week, I’ve heard a worrying number of ‘social commentators’ and youth workers suggesting that the hooded individuals behind this week’s appalling riots were committing such disgusting acts of vandalism and theft because of boredom and a feeling that they ‘don’t fit in with society’.

What unadulterated garbage. I’d wager few of them even know what the word ‘society’ means.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but, I’m sorry, the people suggesting such things are just wrong.

Everyone in the UK has a chance to make something of their lives, regardless of their background. There’s not a single person out there who can’t get a job of some description. Our political system may be flawed in many ways, but it is not an excuse for disenchantment amongst the younger generation.

No, the people behind the riots are simply very thick little toe rags who haven’t grown up. They haven’t left that 12-13 year-old period that both my friends and I naturally abandoned when we realised you had to earn your own crust in life.

You may well think the word ‘thick’ is a bit harsh, but please remember, these are people who were filmed breaking into a Carpet Right store and stealing carpet samples. They can’t even get looting right.

Still think they’re hard done by? “We’re doin’ this ’cause we wanna show all the rich people that we can do what we want, innit,” said one charming young lady earlier this week, having no doubt assisted in smashing up an independent retailer’s premises moments before. If you can’t be bothered to sit and think about the repercussions of your actions and are stupid enough to believe that every shop owner is a millionaire, you don’t deserve sympathy, or the right to continue breathing.

We possibly made a few dings in our parents’ car bonnets when we were kids, but these little shits are smacking cavernous craters into people’s lives and, most worryingly, don’t appear to have any idea of the damage they’re doing.

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