Two weeks ago I was in a traditional cafe in Tower Hamlets, East London meeting one of my trade union members who is off sick from work. While we were discussing his situation I was vaguely aware that some sort of disturbance had broken out in the street outside the cafe. Youths on push bikes seemed to be having some sort of a row. There was about 3 or 4 of them involved with some more hovering around.
I wasn't really paying attention until I heard some women I knew shouting at them to stop and to break it up. Then I saw one youth carrying what looked like a scaffolding pipe who also tore off his tee shirt and threw it on the floor then ran off. I went outside and found out that one of the youths had been stabbed. On a street rubbish bin there was a blue tee shirt covered in blood with a small cut in its side. I rang the Police who were quickly on the scene and sealed off the area. I left them my details if they needed to take a statement from me. I saw the victim being treated by a paramedic further up the Street. I understand that his injuries were serious but not life threatening.
What is wrong with our society? Why are our kids going around armed with knives in the middle of the day? When I was young there were plenty of such stupid and pointless fights but the premeditated use of weapons amongst the young just by and large did not happen.
This was not in any way a "golden age". There was far more unreported horrific domestic and child abuse in those days. I also as a young man growing up in the relative backwater of North Wales actually saw more senseless violence and knife crime than I have ever seen socialising in East London, but this was largely immature males in pub and nightclub drink and drug fuelled stupidity.
It was ironically not all doom and gloom. The local women who went out and challenged the youths and broke up the initial fight, the passerby who gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to the youth who had been stabbed, the number of people willing to speak to the Police and tell them what they saw. Don't get me wrong, this type of public violence is still very rare and exceptional and the evident shock that local people felt did show this.