“YOU have never known fear until you have a child.”
So wrote bestselling author Hanya Yanagihara.
It is a hard truth, especially if you live in London, as I do, where I am bringing up two children.
The capital has become a battleground where kids as young as my son, 12, jostle for respect, sell drugs . . . and carry knives for when it all goes wrong.
Each week brings a new tragedy — a child murdered, a family destroyed.
On Sunday night, innocent Harry Pitman was brutally knifed to death when he went to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks at a park in North London. He was 16.
You casually process a lot of misery and negativity living in a chaotic city like London.
It is part of the trade-off for living in one of the most exciting places on Earth.
But Harry’s death struck a nerve.
He came from my area, Haringey. He looks just like one of my son’s friends.
The fear kicked in. Who will be? Will it be my boy?
That’s the thing about London knife crime. It has become so out of control that eventually all parents will know someone who has been stabbed.
In the year to June 2023, there were 13,503 knifeincidents in the capital — up some 20 per cent year on year.
The rest of the country is not immune either.
Office for National Statistics figures show that in England and Wales, there were a staggering 50,833 crimes involving knives or sharp objects.
And 99 people under 25 were stabbed to death in the year to March 2022, of which 13 were under 16.
Over the past decade, knife crime has risen by an appalling 76 per cent.
For years, many good people have tried their best to do something about it, including The Ben Kinsella Trust — which aims to educate youngsters on the devastating consequences of blade crime.
The charity was set up after Ben, 16, was stabbed to death round the corner from my old flat in North London in June 2008.
But knife crime is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted solution — better funded youth services, such as sports, for a start.
Too many kids are obsessed with being a “roadman”, a new tribe of black-clad, mask-wearing cretin hung up with looking edgy on TikTok.
The Cambridge dictionary defines them as: “Someone, usually a young man, who spends a lot of time on the streets and may use or sell drugs, or cause trouble.”
They’re black, they’re white, they’re Asian, you name it. But what unites them is that they’re impressionable kids.
And they’re dangerous.
Weaning youths off this idiotic ideal is a huge task that will take patience and resources. But there are things that can be done quickly.
If you walk around my neighbourhood, you are more likely to see a drug dealer than a policeman. In the 13 years I have lived there, I have perhaps seen a bobby on my street — not attending an incident — once. ONCE.
Maintaining a visual presence matters.
If people who carry knives do not see anyone who might stop and search them, they will carry knives. They will deal drugs.
They will terrorise each other — and us.
It’s become a cliché to moan that the cops are too busy twerking at Gay Pride events, protecting eco pranksters or charging round to keyboard warriors’ bedsits to arrest them for some X/Twitter “hate crime”.
But this seems to be the case. Because otherwise, where the hell are they?
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan — who was rebuked by the statistics regulator last month for falsely claiming London knife crime had gone down since he took office — the Met and any other forces up and down the country have their heads in the sand.
Get the police back on the streets. Stop the roadmen. Search them.
How many more deaths by stabbing will it take for this to sink in? How many will die this year?
Will we still be having this conversation next January after another young life is taken as fireworks light up thefor 2025?
Unless our politicians and police get a grip, I wouldn’t bet against it.
I SEE Oscar Pistorius’s family are petrified he will be subjected to revenge attacks when he’s released from prison on Friday.
So much so, his uncle has hired security guards to keep him safe at his £2million mansion, where the murderous Olympian, will stay.
This being South Africa, these protectors will of course be carrying guns, to ensure he is kept extra- safe at all times.
Unless you end up needing the loo in the middle of the night, eh?
END SICK VR ‘PLAY’
REAL-life cops investigating a gang rape in the “metaverse” is arguably not the best use of resources.
The young child “attacked” in an online room by sick strangers is doubtless traumatised by the experience.
But the fault here lies with tech firms – like Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, which owns the Horizon Worlds game, where previous attacks have been reported – allowing players to “rape” kids.
VR evangelists like to take a purist view on the digital universe – if it can be done in, then it must be able to happen in cyberspace.
But why? This is not a matter of liberty. Rape is considered abhorrent by every civilised society on the planet.
We can’t stop it in real life. But in the unreal life, we can.
Over to you, Zuck.
ON POINT IN BED . . .
SO darts players make the best lovers? Didn’t see that one, er, coming.
Presumably because they’re so good with their hands and can expertly zone in on the most important little spots?
But someone should have told Jim Bowen, as his old Bullseye phrase turns out to be wide of the mark.
You remember: “Stay out of the black and into the red, you get nothing in this game for two in a bed.”
NOTHING says time for a New Year diet like pulling on your work clothes on January 2.
Yesterday, I reached for a stock shirt only to find it had become a victim of the Annual Christmas Shrink Wash.
Oh, not to worry, I thought – this was one of my “slim fit” shirts anyway, which I always avoid after an eating day.
It was as I disrobed that I saw the label: dart player fit. Ouch!
Candles get on our wick
SO now even scented candles are bad for us. Apparently they’re giving us migraines and irritating our eyes and throat.
Hmmm. What candles were actually being burned during the study has not been revealed by researchers at Semmelweis University in Hungary.
But a quick look at the Goop website run by Gwyneth Paltrow, might give us a clue.
Underneath a listing for her infamous This Smells Like My Vagina candle is the message, “SOLD OUT”.
XL DOG PRAISE IS BULL
I FIND it hard to have any sympathy with XL Bully owners.
They often look as thuggish as their “pets” – the kind of people you’d set yourself on fire to avoid.
So the new crackdown, forcing muzzles and leads on existing dogs and banning breeding, rehoming and selling, which came into force on New Year’s Eve, is welcome in my book.
I’m sick and tired of hearing about children being pulled apart by these brutes.
And then the ensuing garbage about how it’s not the dogs’ fault and they’re actually loveable and misunderstood.
I blame “dog people” – not just dog owners, but that tedious type of canine evangelists who let their mutts run riot, crapping all over the garden before letting them lick their face.
The kind of people who view all dogs as fellow humans.
But the thing is – and what this law makes very clear about XL Bullys – they’re not like humans. They’re animals.
And some of them will rip your face off.
HMMM. Not sure that John Lewis struggled to sell its batsh*t Venus fly-trap toy because it scared kids.
With a punchy £18 price tag, it would have frightened parents more.
ANOTHER triumph for Britain, which has come top of the Five-A-Day League.
So that makes our fruit and veg consumption better than Spain and Italy – home of the “Mediterranean diet” we are always told we should shovel down us.
But then comes the small print – we’re top in the Western world despite less than a THIRD of us actually achieving the goal.
And given that a TOFFEEcould be considered one of your five a day, our record is starting to look very wonky indeed.