Sunday, 20 May 2007

Local kids

It's Sunday, and a quiet day at The Pile. About 5.30 I take Squirrel over to the tennis courts next to the house to practice hitting the balls which I aim very carefully at her racquet. While we're there, I'm conscious of three boys hanging about the corner of the courts, suddenly breaking out into laughter, suddenly making themselves loud and known and boisterous, before they disappear out of sight, behind the hedges, away from the courts and off into the nearby streets.

When I lead Squirrel out of the courts to go home, I'm struck by the long line of metal, a long silver line, protruding through the red paintwork of a battered car parked outside the tennis court gate. The bright silver line is deep and wide and nose to tail, I'm sure that wasn't so before. I never saw such a vicious long line of metal there on the way into the courts, and I remember because the car had its side mirrors turned in. Such a careful driver, I thought, that they take the time to turn in their wing mirrors to prevent them being bumped by passing prams or bruised by colliding bags. Not much worth of an old car, but precious to the owner, to take such time.

Then the next car, nose to tail, the same silver line, paintwork still flaking, maroon. Then the white car behind, and the black, and the green, and the red again, and all twelve cars down the street, to the corner point, where the three boys bounced out and I became aware. And on the car there, a wide, deep scribble of scratched circle, round and round a pen-knife had travelled, on the rear, then the side, then the bonnet, before taking off again, and slicing the paint of another car, and another, and another five cars to the corner point. By now, I'm following the line on the third street, mouth open, walking past every car bounding the courts, every car bearing a silver penknife line until fifteen cars later the line drops.

The kids have damaged some thirty cars in all. It probably took ten minutes. I get my name and address written down in the police notebook along with descriptions of kids, dark haired, white, denim jacket, aged about 13, tee-shirt with coloured bands, one with bike. The car owners mill round; the owner of the battered red car a teenager himself; a man with a child; a member of the town's cricket team; the woman who cleans the tennis club. Some hurrying off, looking for the kids, some just staring at damage. Such casual damage, so easily done.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

And even if the police find the kids who enjoyed such mindless vandalism, they'll only get a verbal warning.

Your area doesn't look like an unpleasant place to live but clearly appearances can be decptive.