The joys, and perils, of city life.

I was born, and lived my entire ‘youth’ in south east london. Its postal address was technically Kent, but as it was classified as Zone 6, we were still technically in London. Once I moved out of my parents home, I moved around a bit, but never too far from London (except maybe Chatham, but we don’t speak of that hole!)

There came a time though, where I decided that I’d really had enough of the hustle and bustle of London life, and shortly after my folks had moved out, and south, I joined them.

I wasn’t living in the countryside by any stretch. I moved, first to Poole, then out to Bournemouth.

In Bournemouth buses (when they run) tend to run every half an hour. Buses are rare creatures that are difficult to fathom out there. This meant I needed to own a car, something I’d stopped doing when living in London. So we bought a car.

In fact, we bought several cars. One thing we discovered in the area we lived, was that vandalism of cars was common-place. Some people blamed travellers, some blamed kids. I’ve no idea, really, who it was that was keying cars, stealing petrol, and cutting fuel lines, but it was bloody annoying, and cost us a fair penny.

in 2011 we moved back up to London, I’d been offered work here, on a much better salary than I was on in there. It was a no-brainer. In hind-sight, we could have stayed in Bournemouth, as my work here was from home, which pretty much means I can work form anywhere in the country. Sometimes I regret not staying there, but to be honest, we’d started to hate the house we lived in, and one way or another, we needed to be away from it.

Anyway, we moved to London, and whilst public transport here is far superior (buses every 8 minutes, tube station 10 mins walk) we kept owning cars. Oddly, though my Insurance premium doubled, we’ve had very little car crime. (we once found two kids sitting in our car, but there was nothing to take, and they legged it).

However, in the 4 years we’ve lived here, we’ve seen odd going’s on. First, we had a strange lady knocking at the door at 4am. It woke my OH, (I sleep deep) and she sent me down to investigate.

The lady was in tears, and telling me she’d lost her baby. (alarm bells rang in my head, so I grabbed my keys, and phone, and stepped out of the house, and closed the door. She didn’t seem in any state to be walking, let alone knocking on strangers doors, so we sat on my wall while she cried, and tried to tell me where she’d last seen her baby. I asked her where she lived, and whether there was anyone she could call. We dialled her house, and her husband (I assume) answered, and told me that he had the kid, who’d been in bed all night, and could I send her home. It was a weird time.

A few weeks later, my OH’s bat-sense heard goings on outside again. Though this one would wake most people.

A car had come around the bend outside our house on the wrong side of the road. It slammed into the front of a bus coming the opposite way. Pretty much every house emptied to find out what was happening. The young lady who’d been driving (and from the way she was wobbling, probably partying) grabbed her shoes and keys from the car, and legged it. I think she’d forgotten that the car has number-plates. ho hum.

We’ve had Muggings happen outside our house. Lots of animal deaths (including several of our moggies) and some knife crime. Two days ago, though, the stakes raised.

This happened at the end of our road.

my OH walks past these shops every day. When my 15 year old son wants to go to the shops, he passes these shops. Reading the papers, its apparently the result of rival gangs in the area.

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit Naive. I’ve never seen anything resembling gang behaviour. Wood Green is an incredibly diverse area. Theres communities for pretty much every nationality you can think of (though I’ve not found the Welsh quarter yet!). My Daughters school has something like 85% of its children speaking English as a second language. Her best friends are Greek, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and English. To her, this is common place, why would it be any different?

But now, because of escalating gun crime, I’m second guessing myself. Should I be letting my son walk to the shops? What if theres another incident?

Should I let my OH walk back from the tube? or should I go collect her?

Questions like this are foremost in my mind most of the time now, and I don’t like it.

Growing up, (at primary school) I was relentlessly bullied. (show me someone who wasn’t!) In the 70’s it was ‘Character building’ and I should just ‘fight back’ it’ll soon stop! However I was well aware (even at a young age) of the inherent unfairness of the world, and that if I were the one caught punching someone, I’d be the one punished, and probably expelled. So instead, I ran from the children who delighted in punching me in the face, and I ran all the way home each night after school, pursued by the bullies. I don’t have fond memories of my primary school. My secondary school was somewhat better, and far enough away that I wasn’t at school with the same kids I was at primary school with. However, this school was in the centre of London, and suddenly I was exposed to kids carrying weapons. Certainly not guns, but knifes, and other weapons weren’t uncommon. Rumours of fights with other schools were more often than not just rumours. They did happen though, and I stuck with my ‘stay well clear, and run if need be’ plan.

Its always been important to me, that my kids never feel afraid in the way that I did. That whilst they are aware that bad stuff happens in the world, they’re removed enough not to have to consider it.

Today I had to tell my son I didn’t want him travelling to the shops alone. He laughed it off at first, so I had to explain to him why he shouldn’t.

He’s 15, and he instantly looked worried about this.

I’m questioning whether this is the right area to live in. Perhaps I can find a small island somewhere. Sure, it’ll be cold, but it should be safe?

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