Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The children of London are not okay. I am mortified of them. Terrified. Horrified. Not only in the realm of embarrassment, but also for my own safety. And they should never be off school, ever. Bank Holiday weekend just passed - for American readers, this is like Memorial Day or Labor Day or Presidents Day, and the kids get a day off school. Only in Britain, it's much less creative and self-important with the day names; there are multiple bank holidays but they're all called, well, Bank Holiday.

Yesterday morning at 9 my doorbell rang. I stumbled downstairs and answered the door to find a girl, presumably about 8, and a boy, presumably about 6, standing before me, neither of them phased by the fact that the weird blond guy who just opened his door stood there in only boxer shorts.
"Have you got any plants?" the girl asked.
"Huh?" I grunted.
"Have you got any plants?" she asked again, all angelic-like.
"Cuz if you've got plants, we could water them for you."
"No. We don't have plants. Wait. Where's your watering can?"
Then the small boy grabbed his crotch, screamed "Right here!" and they both laughed uproariously. But it was me who became terrified and shut the door. As I stood there panting and wondering how to perform an exorcism on a six-year-old lad, I heard the next-door-neighbor's doorbell ring. I soon heard the angelic, "Have you got any plants?" 30 seconds later this innocence was followed by more devilish uproarious laughter and another door slamming.

Later, yesterday afternoon as I wandered through Chapel Market near Angel, a girl, presumably about 10ish, literally grabbed my arm and yanked off one of my headphones. She pointed to the small blond boy with her, and pleaded, "My brother - and my other brother, who's in that shop over there (she pointed to a videogame shop) - need to exchange some things but they won't give us the money without an adult!"
I looked down at the sack that the blond boy held uncomfortably. It was as big as him. Inside was what looked like years worth of used merchandise, and immediately I knew these evil spawns of Satan were attempting to get reimbursed for used and/or stolen videogames.
"Can you just say you're our uncle!?" the girl yelped. She pointed at the boy again and pleaded, "You look just like him!"
The child had snot running down his face, looked like he hadn't showered since 2003, and looked a bit cross-eyed. "No I don't," I told her. "Besides, where are your parents?"
"They're home! Please just do it anyway!"
"Look," I started, "The second they hear my American accent, they're going to know I'm not your uncle." I told myself that this would shut them up.
She paused, considered what I had professed, and then said, "It's okay, cuz we could have an American uncle, couldn't we?"
"I have to go. I'm late," I said, defeated.
A barrage of profanity spewed from the lips of these young kids, so loud I could hear it through my headphones as I walked down the street.

Later, when I was up at the Angel cinema and texting my friend Edwin to see why he was late, three boys - presumably about 8ish - rolled off the escalator on scooters and surrounded me like a gang of bandits on wheels. At first I thought nothing of it, and continued texting, holding my mobile at about shoulder height.
"OI!" one of the boys bellowed. "DID YOU JUST TAKE A PHOTO OF ME!?"
"What?" I asked.
"OI!" another screamed. "DID YOU NOT JUST TAKE A PHOTO OF US?"
"I don't even have a camera."
"YEAH BUT LEMME SEE YOUR PHONE!" the third yelled.
"My phone doesn't even have a camera on it," I promised, holding up the back of it.
"QUICK, TAKE HIS PHONE!" the first boy yelled to the third one.
I retracted my mobile and stared at them in disbelief. "That was like the worst robbery attempt I've ever seen," I told them, truly disappointed by their efforts.
"YEAH BUT SHUH-UP THO!" the second gang-boy spurted. Then he turned his scooter around and rolled away with the other two children following him.

I returned home yesterday evening as nightfall approached. I walked through a gang of kindergarteners who used their index fingers to pantomime guns. An elderly woman passed by them and asked, "You lads playing cowboys and indians, then?"
One of them shouted - shouted - at her, "NO! We're playing Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels!"
Another five-year-old chimed in, instructing, "After I steal his cocaine I've gotta kill the other bloke and then fuck his lady!"
Horrified, the old woman ran away. So did I.

I hate children. At least Islington children. Where are their parents? They need cages, not classrooms. I also REALLY FUCKING hate my dissertation this week, but that's a whole other story.

Social worker: All I want to know Vicky is where is your baby?
Vicky Pollard: Oh, I swapped it for a Westlife CD.
Social worker: Oh my God, how could you.
Vicky Pollard: I know, they're rubbish. - from Little Britain