True Gripes: Seen and herd: Teen tribes make holidays a nightmare

Share
Related Topics
With the school holidays about to end, I'm looking forward to life returning to some sort of normality. Don't get me wrong. I love children, the little darlings - it's just that sometimes I feel like Noel Coward, famously intolerant of badly behaved brats. Driven to distraction by a movie star's hopelessly indulged offspring, the playwright proposed giving the boy a Christmas present of a chocolate-covered hand-grenade.

Round our way, it's at the swimming pool that you first realise school's out with a vengeance. Adults calmly swimming laps are dive-bombed by nine-year-olds whose leaps threaten to compress one's skull on the pool floor.

Having endured the kicking, scratching and punching, and queues for the showers, one is met in the changing rooms with a barrage of ear-splitting shrieks and the kind of language which would make Ben Elton blush. These days they do answer back. The other day I saw a seven-year-old sitting on an open window ledge on the seventh-floor of our block of flats. When I told him to get down, he and his older sister came over to rap my shins with bits of stick. I left them to their suicidal play.

Shortly after, I watched a girl come careering down the Tube escalator on her skates. Against my better judgment, I said, 'Don't come running to me if you break your leg.' 'I wasn't thinking of coming to you,' she retorted.

But it's out on the street that the danger really lies, with screeching skate-boarders or chuckers of explosive crackers, and street-corner gatherings which last into the night.

Don't these kids have homes to go to? Or are their parents just relieved to have a few hours of peace to themselves? By late August the teen tribes - with their peculiar mutated wolf whistles and tagging pens - are running amok. Recently I watched as a passing posse wrought havoc along our street, setting off car and office alarms, setting fire to a skip, and smashing a few bottles for good measure. Their wake of destruction was followed minutes later by bemused fire brigade and police.

Urban dystopias and lack of facilities notwithstanding, I find it hard to imagine that I might ever have joined one of these careening under-age hordes.

As I say, I'm not anti-child, although they usually have to be under five to engage my goodwill; after that, when usefully employed at school, they're fine in small doses. But let the cages of education open and the most liberal tolerance levels plummet to a misanthropic low.

At such moments I turn again to the Master's words.

When asked his opinion of a play which featured an infant thespian, Coward advised: 'Cut the last scene, and the child's throat.'

Thank heavens for September, when the streets of London will be safe again.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own