The stats for knife crime in London this year are astonishing.
Back in more simple times, I carried a knife, as did most of my friends. It was a beauty. A four inch sheath knife with a smooth wooden handle. I bought it from the tackle shop in the small seaside town I grew up in. I saved up my pocket money for ages, and would regularly check the shop window to make sure that it remained unsold. When I finally had the money, I strolled contentedly out of the shop, with the sheath attached to my belt. It's uses ? Gutting fish I'd caught whilst mucking around in boats on the estuary, random whittling, and a rather daft game called the splits.
I was ten years old when I bought it, and it's still knocking around the bottom of my tool kit.
I know it sounds a bit extreme, but I am glad that we're not bringing up our kids in a large city. Some of the acts of violence seem quite random, and that I find frightening. On the other hand, the boys are growing up leading an existence that is so far removed from city life, and that too has its dangers. We live in a prosperous village, all the kids at school are 'nice' kids from 'nice' families. It's an idyllic childhood, but a sheltered one, and one that I am not sure prepares them for what can be out there in the wider world. We try to make them aware that life generally is not as easy as the one they currently have, but I'm not that sure that it gets through, they're only eight and five. I suppose it's about finding the right balance.
How on earth do you cope with a police officer knocking on the door to tell you that the child you have adored from the moment they were born has been stabbed to death ? I cannot imagine how the parents of these children have dealt with the meaningless end to their child's life.
Listening to London teenagers on 5 Live's phone in on knife crime this morning was depressing. It left me with the feeling that I'm living on a different planet to them, not merely a two hour drive away.