“What is going on in England, Mike?!”
Recent unrest in the Mother Country has given Israeli friends and colleagues the opportunity – in which they have revelled – to make the point that the English are not that much more civilised than the “monkeys” whom I so consistently (if jokingly . . . well, semi) disparage.
In general, too, Israelis love to make mileage out of the seeming tears in the fabric of ostensibly ‘normal’ countries. And who can blame them? Opportunities to feel good – or, at least, better – about their own country, and to convince themselves that the matzav (defence/security situation) is not that bad after all, are few and far between. And they positively delight when such tears appear in the fabric of the former Mandatory power.
And I have made no excuses for my former compatriots, explaining to any Israeli who has asked that the pond life involved in the recent disturbances is like nothing and no one that they – or even many Englishmen – have ever experienced (or should wish to): take your biggest chach-chach (the nearest local equivalent to a chav), arse or frecha (see here), or even Betar Jerusalem fan (generally held up as the very worst sort of “ape”), and he or she will not even come close to the scum which looted and set fire to the streets of England a fortnight ago. The most serious crimes in over a month of so-called “protest” in Israel, on the other hand, have been nothing more than possession of offensive back hair, and of an imitation nose.
I spent most of my solicitor’s training, in North London Legal Aid practices, attending on blue-collar criminals in Crown Courts and prisons. And they were easily the most eye-opening years of my (admittedly previously sheltered) existence: from shoplifters to murderers, wife-beaters to Yardies, I had to deal with them all.
On one, regrettably unforgettable, occasion, a suspected paedophile saw fit to place a photograph of his member – and not of Parliament – on the table in front of me.
“What is this?!” I asked, furiously rotating the image in the hope that it might quickly resemble something else.
“My penis,” responded the nonce, with all the nonchalance of someone who had just shown a snap from a family holiday.
The recent riots, however, had nothing to do with pervs, psychopaths, or even hardened criminals, but with an underclass that you never want to encounter. And I am not convinced that historian David Starkey is the racist that the knee-jerks have branded him: in stating his view that England’s “whites have become black,” he was merely giving less humourous and subtle expression to the reality expressed by Ali G (view the pair ‘together’ here). That white English youths have taken on aspects of black “gangster culture” is surely beyond question.
To blame England’s black community, however, for the scum of the white one – and I am not sure that this was Starkey’s intention – is as ridiculous as charging England’s indigenous whites for instilling a pernicious consumerism in the sons of simple, post-War Caribbean immigrants. And, if anything, the chavs or “white trash” (to use an Americanism) that I came across during my legal training were generally far further beyond redemption than the black youngsters caught up in the criminal justice system, many of whose families appeared to possess a far stronger sense of tradition, and of right and wrong, than the entirely rootless white ones.
The recent outrages clearly had nothing to do with race or colour; but, to my mind, with the decline amongst England’s poorest, least educated classes of religion and the nuclear family. Indeed, Puff Daddy is about as close to anything paternal as many of the rioters and looters will ever have come. At the same time, I don’t buy the loony liberal – I was sat next to one such at Friday night dinner – argument that these kids are merely non-responsible victims who have no alternative to a life of crime. One could just as easily excuse Betar fans, following all the years of Palestinian terror, for their chants of “mavet le’Aravim” (death to Arabs).
While listening to working class parents eff and blind at their very young children in the Crown and Family Courts of England and Wales was a shocking experience, one exchange more than any other – between a young adult (white) and his barrister, attempting to put some meat in his imminent plea of mitigation (before sentence) – will always remain with me . . .
“What should I tell the judge that you intend to do with your life now?” enquired the Oxbridge-educated counsel.
The defendant looked up at the ceiling, the family brain cell clearly going into overdrive.
“And where should I tell the judge that you are planning to study?”
The young man tilted his head back even further.
“And what do you wish to study?” the barrister triumphantly concluded, certain now that his carefully-honed questioning skills were about to reap their reward.
The client, however, merely glared at his advocate as though he were a complete imbecile.
“A course, innit!!”
[Apologies for the delay between posts . . . just moved apartment, innit! If you are enjoying melchett mike, please take a few minutes to donate a fiver or tenner to my Norwood charity bike ride (click here) . . . just 700 quid to go!]