Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

'What a prejudiced, ignorant idiot I've been! I, too, must hug a misunderstood hoodie - now'
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The Independent Online

Have you hugged a hoodie today? I do hope so because as you must now realise, in the light of David Cameron's recent remarks, it is no less than your civic duty. As he said: "When you see a child walking down the road, hoodie up, head down, moody, swaggering, dominating the pavement, think: what has brought that child to this moment?" Of course! And I'm ashamed to say that, until now, I've misunderstood hoodies as much as anyone, even assuming that the kangaroo pouches contain drugs and knives and all the stuff they've so far nicked off any number of grannies this morning, whereas it could just as easily be full of potpourri and a French knitting doll and maybe little guest soaps in the shape of shells. I am truly ashamed and will kick myself - ouch! - as you can't expect a hoodie to do it for you any more.

Oh, more fool me. What a prejudiced, ignorant idiot I have been! I, too, must hug a misunderstood hoodie, and I must do it now. Fortunately, we live on the edge of a big estate where there are lots and lots and lots of hoodies but very few Tories, which is a little peculiar, but it only leads me to admire Tories all the more: how clever of them to know so much about hoodies without ever living alongside them! Oh, how I've got those misunderstood hoodies on my conscience. You know once, even, I was at home, heard a noise, came downstairs to investigate and found a hoodie in the living room with our DVD player under his arm. How I wish, now, I hadn't screamed and got all hysterical and phoned the police, and had simply hugged him instead and said I was glad he'd smashed the bay window because now I could call in the emergency glass people to massively overcharge me. Why, in effect, flog 'em when you can snog 'em? Although I'm not sure I'd want to go in for tongues. Or a lot of rolling about. Although that's not to say they aren't totally adorable under those hoods or while they are burgling you. And, to think, I had the chance to win the trust of one, and maybe get to play with his guest soaps in the shape of shells, but I muffed it. I shall not do so again.

So I approach the group of hoodies that are loitering at the end of our road and are always loitering at the end of our road, and who have a misunderstood dog called Killer in a spiked collar. Killer looks vicious as hell and has already eaten four OAPs and the man from the corner shop but is a sweetie all the same and could be a guide dog for the blind. The hoodies are wearing their hoods up as well as baseball caps which, I can now see, is as much about shyness as it is about not being caught on CCTV jacking younger boys at the bus stop for their phones which could make you think they were complete bastards, if you didn't know any better.

So I say to the boys: "Come here, boys, and let me give you all a hug. You are not the problem. You are only a symptom of the problem which no Tory government would ever provide the resources to address anyway, but there you go." I made to give them a nice Cameron-esque hug, and you know what? Get this. They jeered and spat at me! Yes, they spat at me! Well, I wasn't having any of that. I said: "Boys, let us think about what has brought you to this moment. Are you fatherless? Have you been neglected, abused, never properly loved? Is your mother a crack fiend with a low IQ and really big hoop earrings? Or could it be that you are simply totally thick and mean through no fault of your own?" At this point, one of the misunderstood hoodies grabbed me by the hair and brought my head down on a car bonnet while shouting: "Take that, you stupid fat bitch." Then, if I recall rightly, Killer was set on me but he only took the one foot off, rather than the two, which is why I still say he would be good working for the blind.

Well, I was absolutely horrified, as you can imagine. Stupid fat bitch? Indeed, as I was coming round in A&E I said to the doctor: "I'm not fat, am I, doctor?" He said he rather thought I had other things to worry about, like a fractured skull and severed foot. That, I think, means I must be a bit fat, because when a man doesn't answer such a question directly that's what it always means. Of course, I wept. "Properly fat, doctor?" I asked before I slipped back into a coma. "Or do you think it's just a matter of a few pounds?"

I do, actually, think this is serious, as the last time I had anything to do with a hoodie was at Chessington World of Asbos where I rebuked one for pushing ahead of me in the queue, and he called me a "stupid fat bitch" as well. That's the thing. If only more people took the time to listen to hoodies, instead of crossing the street, they'd also learn something about themselves. Those Tories are spot on. I've yet to hug a Tory, but it's the first thing I'm going to do once I'm out of intensive care and back on my feet. Or foot, I should say.