The Long and the Shortlands of It

When I was growing up in the 1980s in London’s largest geographical borough, the opulence and general orderliness of life there was so pervasive, the question of feeling unsafe on the streets of Bromley rarely encroached into one’s consciousness. Bromley, at the beginning of the 1990s, was listed as the eighth richest local authority in the United Kingdom. It was the sort of borough where you’d hear of Colonel and Lady Forrest of Birch Mead getting a mention in the Personal Column of The Times because their eldest son had just become British Ambassador in Cairo. Knives in public places in Bromley were usually confined to bakery shops for the purposes of spreading chocolate icing on choux pastries, whereas the only thing noteworthy about Shortlands was the fact the railway bridge there over Beckenham Lane was so low London Transport could only use single decker buses on their 227 route between Crystal Palace and Chislehurst!

Given I spent some of the happiest years of my life in that borough, Bromley is the one remaining part of London I retain considerable nostalgic affection for. Thus, when I read about crimes one would once associate with some of the capital’s most deprived areas hitting its far-flung south-easterly suburbs, I am filled with a sense of sadness and loss for times past. How could a borough, once more noted for its plethora of private swimming pools and detached houses, become afflicted with the sort of violence someone might have associated with New York 40 years ago?

I am, of course, talking about the stabbing that occurred on a train in Shortlands earlier this week. Passengers on a Victoria-bound service were witness to a multiple stabbing that left one man fighting for his life ( I am happy to point out, seeing as the BBC will not, that the assailant was black! And why should we be surprised at that? The statistics are unequivocal: The black population of London was, at the 2021 Census, 13%. Yet this demographic makes up an incredible 61% of knife murderers, 53% of those involved in general knife crime, and 45% of knife murder victims in the capital. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the eggshell-treading around this issue. It is not, as London’s fifth-rate Mayor has claimed, to do with summer weather. Nor is it rooted in poverty, poor education or social media influence. It is, in the long and the short of it, the consequence of two societal factors. The first is the mass importation of alien cultures, for whom the use of such weaponry is considered broadly acceptable, and this ‘acceptability’ (gang culture, the glorification of violence, and reprehensible role models) is passed down to subsequent generations. The second is the creation of a society where there are few serious consequences to any significant transgressions. Put these two factors in a symbiotic interaction, and you have all the ingredients to turn once quiet suburban train journeys into miniature re-enactments of the 1961 Congo Crisis!

I have mentioned many times before how mass immigration has, sadly, changed beyond repair much of our cultural fabric, societal cohesion and values-based convictions. What I have discussed less are the ramifications of living in a country where discipline learned at an early age is an ever-diminishing phenomenon. Where do the kids of today actually learn the basics of discipline? In the home, where many parents are more preoccupied with FaceTiming chums and gazing endlessly at their phone screens than they are instilling the sense of ‘right and wrong’? At school, where teachers are petrified of breathing on the little darlings lest they get hauled before the law on a charge of physical abuse? When I was at secondary school, direct physical chastisement may have already gone the way of the dodo but teachers weren’t afraid to (rightly) manhandle pupils if they pushed the line too far. Whatever temporary bruising our pubescent egos suffered as a result of these encounters, we at least had respect for those who schooled us through our adolescent turbulence. When I look at school parties out and about at visitor attractions these days, I struggle to comprehend which section of the posse is actually in charge! When I came home and told my parents of the odd occasion a school master had felt it necessary to put his hands on me, they shrugged their shoulders and said I undoubtedly had done something to deserve it. These days, the arrival home of teenage Jaxson, Montaro or Scoop with comparable stories would result in their respective fathers going down to the school to probably give the master a thumping!

We live in terrible times. I never thought, in the halcyon days of my youth, that I would experience middle age in a country that – demographically, socially, culturally, behaviourally – I barely even recognise now. And my friends and colleagues wonder why I spend so much of my time soaking my mind in the music, programmes and movies of the 60s, 70s and 80s. They are my escape route from the horrors of modern living. A sort of fantasy wardrobe through to a Narnia of wistful reassurance. Because I do not see one mainstream party at Westminster even willing to admit the numerous sources of our societal woes, let alone have the courage to tackle them. Take Sadiq Khan as a prime example. The very same ‘diversity’ and ‘enrichment’ that brings us near-fatal knife attacks on Orpington to Victoria train services, is the one he extols every time he opens his objectionable mouth! Having turned London into Europe’s largest experimental Third World laboratory, Khan and many other politicians are incapable of even acknowledging the contribution of their multiculti ideologies to the mess our capital city (and several of our provincial cities) is in, never mind having the integrity to seek solutions. As politicians from the different parties throw accusations at each other about policing resources, they almost all fail to see that two of the most prominent totems of their collective ‘progressivism’ – mass migration and the diminution of disciplinary enforcement – have helped to bring about the scenes unfortunate passengers witnessed in Shortlands earlier this week. What we can be certain of is that they won’t be the last to witness such horrors.

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