My children were horrified when I told them. No, it’s too dangerous, they said, you can’t go. Chatting over the garden fence, I mentioned it to a neighbour. Are you crazy, he exclaimed, why take such a risk.
A long time ago, I visited Lebanon, but then I was in IDF uniform and I was not asked if I wanted to go. Recently, I have travelled in Vietnam and Cambodia without incident. I have faced lions in Botswana with only the side of a jeep between us. But now, I was going to London.
Dr. Samuel Johnson once said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” While this might have been true in Dr. Johnson’s time, this can now be rewritten as “When a man goes to London, he is risking his life.”
Just this weekend, Britain’s capital has seen four men stabbed or shot to death in less than 24 hours. These killings bring the number of dead in knife and gun violence in London this year to 61 although this number will have risen by the time you read this.
According to the latest figures available, in the UK there were 39,818 knife crime offences in the 12 months ending September 2018. In case you think that my finger slipped on the keyboard and added a few digits, I will repeat that figure – 39,818 knife crimes.
Of course, knives aren’t the only danger, there are the axes. Last month rival factions clashed outside a takeaway in Bastwell, that’s in Lancashire if you want to avoid it. Axes, bats and bars were used during a pitched battle in the street. A ward councillor, Shaukat Hussain, called for residents to resolve their differences peacefully. He was sympathetic towards one of the injured.
“I really feel for this poor boy’s family as their child is now in hospital. I know him from my mosque and he’s a nice lad so I’m surprised he has got involved in this.”
And you would do well to avoid Ancoats, Manchester, where a driver wielding an axe hacked away at another motorist’s car in broad daylight following a crash. He then turned his attention to the driver who managed to escape by driving straight through a red light. The incident was, of course, caught on camera by several onlookers who, wisely, did not attempt to intervene.
Google, ever attentive to my interests, picked up “axe” and offered me an Axe Specialist who would sell me something from their wide range of lethal-looking axes, presumably in case I wanted to deal with an annoying neighbour whose car is always parked in my favourite spot. And, even more curiously, eBay UK offered me “Find great deals on eBay for axe attack. Shop with confidence.” I was not at all sure what to make of that.
Hopefully, I will have no need of axes, and a simple table knife will be sufficient to allow me to enjoy my visit to London.