Hackney meets Glastonbury in Whitstable

by Christopher James Stone

Knife crime? This was a bored three-year-old playing a game

I went to Wetherspoons with a friend of mine and her two children the other day.

Their names are Angela, Toby and Kai and they live in Glastonbury.

Angela was born in Whitstable and often comes back to visit. She’s a bit of a space-cadet, as I’m sure she would admit, but I love her. For instance in 2012 she burnt all her things because she thought it was the end of the world.

“You realise you’re completely bonkers don’t you Angela?” I said, laughing, when she told me that. She didn’t argue.

She’s a single parent. Toby is three and a half years old. Kai will be two in February. The kids are a bit of a handful, a bit wayward and demanding. Angela is always chasing after them.

Sometimes she looks very tired. I would love to be able to take the children to give her a day off, but I don’t think I would be allowed.

Toby clings to his Mum like a limpet to a rock. I can’t imagine that he would let anyone else come near him.

Anyway, after lunch we were sitting there chatting. There was a scattering of toys about, crayons for colouring, and a couple of squeaky frogs. The scene was a bit chaotic.

There were two men on the table next to us. I’d clocked them earlier, but hadn’t really been paying that much attention.

Suddenly one of them said, “your child is stabbing the chair.”

I must admit it was the first time I’d noticed. Toby had a dinner knife in his hand.

He was leaning with his elbows on the chair poking at the cushion in a vague, distracted manner, lost in his own little world.

Angela apologised and took the knife off him. If that had been all there was to it, this wouldn’t be a story. Unfortunately the man decided to expand upon his observation.

“Only I’m from Hackney,” he said. “We know all about knife-crime up there.”

Pardon? Knife-crime?

This was a three year old with a blunt knife. It didn’t even have a pointed end. And it was a chair cushion he was sticking it to.

He wasn’t attacking an old lady on the street trying to take her pension money from her. He was a bored child playing a game.

How strange. Is this a London thing or what? It wasn’t only the absurd exaggeration.

Aside from the note of disapproval, there was also an air of worldly knowingness in his tone.

It was as if he was saying, “I’m from London, I’ve seen everything there is to see.”

Well yes, I’m sure you have. And the next time I catch a three year old robbing an old Granny with a butter knife, I’ll remember to ring the police.

Meanwhile Angela was embarrassed. We packed up hurriedly, wrapped up in our coats and went over to Cornwallis Circle to play on the swings.

No murders were committed while we were there.


From The Whitstable Gazette 14/11/19

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