God knows why, but I'm watching Question Time on the BBC and a rather attractive young lady has opined thusly:
"People aren't scared of the police, this country is a pushover, you can get away with practically anything!"
I don't know where she lives, but the police in Scotland are a bunch of violent fascists. I was standing outside the local primary school just last week when a patrol car pulled up and two coppers wrestled me to the floor and handcuffed me.
And would you believe it, they accused me of selling crack to children! Selling!
Good God, at those prices I was practically giving it away.
Nonetheless, the young lady on Question Time is speaking for millions of Britons* who seem to believe that the nation has descended into sub-Mad Max ultraviolence, and that liberal PC-do-gooders are solely responsible.
Can I be the first to ask, ou sont les neds d'antan?
Where are the teddy boys, punks, razor gangs, ice-cream warriors, mods, rockers, football casuals, blackshirts, paramilitaries, rioters, yardies, bovver boys and every other violent subculture that has terrified the country in the past hundred years?
Which woolly liberals were running the country when Glasgow's hospitals were treating dozens of stab victims every Saturday night? When London's East End was rank with gangsterism, which faint-hearted sap coddled the Krays?
Considering this, I've come to a realisation. It's not the government that's soft, and it's not the justice system that's stained with the ugly yellow streak of cowardice.
It's the citizenry.
Terrified by tabloid tales of roving bands of feral children, held housebound with horror as you watch the last dregs of British decency gurgle down the plug-hole?
Well, boo-fucking-hoo kids, that's life - sometimes ugly, dirty, coarse and dangerous, but vibrant, exciting and alive. If you tremble in dread every time a gang of kids walk past, you're not a clear-eyed realist, but a pant-pissing jessie.
I don't know about anyone else, but if the police state of enforced politeness these quaking wimps envision ever came to pass, I'd emigrate in a second.
Can you imagine? It'd make Nurse Ratched's ward in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest look like a Slipknot gig.
Can anyone pinpoint the exact moment when Britain tired of stiff-upper-lips and decided to bolt the doors, quivering in dread in front of the TV?
*Most of whom appear to be bloggers, succesfully giving the impression that idiocy and bloggery are the peaches and cream of the internet.