I’ve mentioned here before that while the street Terry and I live in is as pleasant and suburban as it gets, some of the areas around us… aren’t. Well, they don’t call our part of town “Bandit Country” for nothing, put it that way.

Where we're livin'
Where we’re livin’

Just yesterday, for instance, I met a group of the local Bandits while I was out walking Rubin. The Bandits in question were mostly in their late teens/early twenties, and they were sitting in a little huddle outside the Ghetto Superstore, drinking. You’d think it would be too much of a cliché for me to say they were drinking Buckfast, wouldn’t you?

People, they were drinking Buckfast.

You’d also think it was too much of a cliché for me to say they had a pit bull terrier with them, no?

*Deep sigh*

As soon as the pit bull laid eyes on Rubin, of course, it went crazy.  In fact, before I knew what had happened, it was over beside us “worrying” at Rubin. Now, I should say here that it wasn’t barking or growling, or anything like that. For all I know, this might’ve been the friendliest pit bull in all the land, but I didn’t really want to take the chance on that, and because Rubin likes to think he’s a wolf (he completely ignores small dogs, but will often bark ferociously at larger ones, because… well, because he was born without a brain, obviously), I was frightened enough by the dog’s attentions that when it still hadn’t left us alone a few minutes later, I snatched Rubin into my arms and… ran off like a girl.

Only at this point did the Youth of Today dispatch a Junior Bandito (about 8 years old, I’d say) to call off the hound.

So, that’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with.

Because I never learn, though, I decided to take Rubin on the exact same walk today.  In my defence, it’s pretty much the only place I CAN walk him without having to get in the car and drive somewhere, and I rarely have time for that, so Bandit Country it is. I was about ten minutes into the walk, Rubin almost hysterical with joy by my side, when I became aware of the sound of a bicycle, directly behind me.

I was on a footpath at this point, and there were no actual roads nearby, but people often cycle on the footpaths round here, so I thought nothing of this, and moved to the side of the (wide) footpath to let it pass.

The bike moved with me.

I moved even closer to the side, until my arm was brushing the branches of the trees which grow along the pathway.

The bike moved too.

At this point it struck me that this bicycle was moving very, very slowly, given that it was able to stay behind me, at my slow walking pace.  It could also have passed me at any time: the path is a wide one, and I hadn’t exactly been filling it up even before I moved.

Clearly, then, it was following me.  Great.

I glanced over my shoulder, and sure enough, there he was: another Junior Bandito (not the Pitt Bull handler,  this time), grinning unpleasantly as the front tyre of his bike almost brushed my heels. I’m no good at estimating people’s ages, but I’d say he was probably 10 or 11. Young, but old enough to know better than to harass people in the street, I’d say.

I decided the best thing to do here would be to ignore him, so I looked away and continued walking.

“HEY! UGLY!” the bandit called.

At this point all I can say is that something snapped in my head. Because, honestly, I’ve HAD IT with people thinking it’s perfectly OK to insult and harass each other. ENOUGH.

So I stopped dead in my tracks (he almost ran into me) and turned round to face him.

“Did you say something? ” I asked pleasantly.

Well, the bandit almost fell off his bike. The look that crossed his face was almost comical as his brain struggled to register the fact that the worm had apparently turned.

“No,” he said, his voice shaking slightly. “I didn’t say a thing.”

“That’s strange,” I said, still calm. “I’m sure I heard you say something to me. What was it?”

The kid quaked. He clearly had no idea how to deal with this, so he decided to go with denial. Nope, he’d said nothing, not him. Why, he was just riding along on his bike, minding his own business!

“Well, there’s no one else here,” I said, “So I’m pretty sure it was you. What did you say?”

“I just said hello,” blurted the bandit.  “That was it.”

“Really?” I said, puzzled. “That’s funny: you just told me you didn’t say anything. So now you’re telling me you DID say something: is that right?”

Silence.  Pinned into a corner by his lies (I should totally be a crime writer, right?), the bandit had no choice but to get on his hoss bike and get out of town.  Unfortunately for me, he managed to do the first bit OK, but, once on his bike (he’d jumped off for our “chat”) he decided to go back to following me, albeit at a slightly further distance this time.

“GINGER!” he shouted this time.

So I turned round and karate chopped him. No, OK, I didn’t. But I did turn round, and, once again, the kid almost fell off his bike in fright. You’d think he’d have learned the first time, no?

“Ah, so you DO have something to say to me!” I beamed. “I thought so! But I didn’t quite hear you. Tell you what, why don’t you come and say it to my face, rather than waiting until my back’s turned? That would be the brave thing to do, don’t you think?”

No, I have no idea why I was talking like this to a child. I mean, clearly it wasn’t exactly my finest hour, and equally clearly, I wouldn’t have been nearly so brave had he been just a little bit older. Of if he’d had The Friendliest Pit Bull in All The Land with him.  But, like I said, I’m absolutely sick of not being able to walk my dog close to my own home without being taunted and harassed by idiot kids.  This has happened several times now, the worst time being when I was held at branch-point in the woods, and had to phone the police. And although this was a young ‘un, I still think he was old enough to learn that following strange women in the street and calling them names is not a pleasant thing to do. And that sometimes, when you choose to do this, you just might get yourself in trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the words themselves that bother me. I am not so insecure that a child calling me “ugly” will make me feel I actually AM ugly (Sorry, blog commenters who say more or less the same thing!), and the “ginger” thing is just stupid. It’s the fact that people today apparently think it’s OK to taunt strangers in the street IN ANY WAY that makes my blood boil. To follow people, and call them names, and to then try to deny it is stupid and cowardly in the extreme, and I don’t care if you’re eleven or eleventy-one: if you behave like that towards someone, you should expect to get called on it.

I know lots of people would give the old, “Ah, but they’re only kids!” argument, here, but that one won’t wash with me, sorry. If they’re old enough to be out in public unsupervised, then they’re old enough to be taught that it’s not nice to follow people and be rude to them. If your kid ISN’T old enough to understand that message, then you keep him under supervision until he is: simple. Quite apart from anything else, it’s pretty damn dangerous for kids to do this kind of thing, because while the worst thing I’d ever do would be to tell them off, if they pick on someone a little more aggressive, they could end up in some serious trouble.

So I told the bandito all of this. At length.  And … he turned and ran away. “Leave me alone!” he sobbed, jumping off his bike a few metres down the path.

“I don’t really see why I should,” I said, reasonably. “I mean, you haven’t been leaving ME alone, have you? You’ve been following me and calling me names, so maybe I’ll just follow YOU now, and call you some names, how would you like that?”

He wouldn’t, was the answer. And he agreed to stop following me if I just stopped talking. So I did. And you know, that little Bandit was as good as his word. I like to think he will grow up to be a better Bandit now: a Bandit with a basic understanding of how to behave in public, and why it’s Not Nice to follow people and shout names at them. And thus, a new era of peace will be forged between the Banditos and the ordinary people of Bandit Country, all thanks to me.

Actually, I know I’ll just be lucky if my windows don’t get broken next time I’m out. Such is life.


(ETA : not that it particularly matters, but in the interests of accuracy, this all actually happened on Saturday -I wrote the post then, but then totally forgot to publish it. Ooops.)

  1. Argh the nusance!!! I had one of these once when my eldest was only eight. This twelve year old tormented him and I set off to find him discovering him when I heard the shouts of 'oi ugly' I turned, marched over to him and his pals, grabbed his handle bars and thru him off his bike. I warned – that wasn't for shouting ugly -that was for terrorizing my kid. Don't make me show youwhat I'd do to you for terrorizing me.suffice to say he left my kid and me alone – didn't improve his behaviour tho last time I heard after several asbos he's been locked up!

    <abbr>Hel cruse´s last blog post..Sunday Stealing, on My Friday 5</abbr>

    1. Ha, that's excellent! I do think if more people refused to put up with the stupid behaviour, it would happen less. I could tell this kid was totally taken aback when I confronted him – he obviously thought I was just going to keep walking and let him keep following me, and when I turned around he almost fell off his bike in fright, before I'd even said anything. I've no idea how I managed to inspire such fear in him, but I hope he'll think twice now before bothing anyone else…

  2. OMG Amber!

    I would have been terrified – even by a 10 year old. I don't know how you did it.

    This is they type of thing that makes me not want to go walking around here – well done for standing up for yourself though.


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    1. This is the thing: even although he was “just a kid”, it was fairly intimidating being followed like that, especially when I knew he was doing it purely to make me feel uncomfortable. And it has definitely made me think twice about going out walking by myself now: there have been just a few too many incidents like this now for my liking!

  3. ell done you ….. I'm sure you found your exchange very empowering . I lost my inhibitions with men shouting all manner of things at me a few years ago and always stopped to " have a go " back . Ive had all sorts of interesting conversations and exchanges with builders , passers by , scary looking teenagers etc as I walk my dog , and with one huge skinhead who had kicked my cat , and interestingly all of them have backed down and some have even aoplogised . Usually just to get me to shut up , sometimes probably fearing I was a crazy woman who might do my worst . As I get older , I get less and less hassle .

    1. Well, I wouldn't say it was empowering, exactly: I was actually feeling quite intimidated by the kid following me like that, and in the end I just lost my temper. Don't think I'd have dared say anything if he'd been older!

      1. This is the thing: even although he was "just a kid", it was fairly intimidating being followed like that, especially when I knew he was doing it purely to make me feel uncomfortable. And it has definitely made me think twice about going out walking by myself now: there have been just a few too many incidents like this now for my liking!

  4. Way to show the little bastard who's boss. If everybody confronted their fears and the world's idiocy like that, we would be in control of the streets instead of those who thrive on fear. Just make sure to be mindful of your own safety!!

    1. Yeah, I think it's time people started standing up for themselves, but at the same time, I probably wouldn't have said anything if he'd been a bit older – you just never know what people will do.

  5. Good for you! That pit bull owner desperately needs an appointment with my hero, good old Caesar The Dog Whisperer. (We don't have a dog – I have to say that his techniques fail miserably with one old, spoiled cat.) Pit Bulls continue to get terrible press, thanks to owners like this moronic bandido.

    1. I know… I'm not scared of dogs, but it's just common courtesy not to let your pet bother other people and animals, espeically ones that have a reputation for being aggressive: like I say, it could've been the sweetest natured dog in the world, but I'd have felt a whole lot more comfortable if the idiot owners hadn't just sat there and watched me trying to shoo it away!

  6. Woo – go Amber! It must be the week for confronting abusive children in the street – I did the same on Friday morning. Mine weren't abusing me, but a little girl I often walk behind in the morning. I just snapped! I don't know where the adrenalin comes from in those odd instances!

    Also, Harry has the same "bigger-dog-must-growl" stupid gene. He actually likes to attack anything he perceives to be growling at him, and he can't tell the different between a growl and an engine. He has played chicken, head on, with motorbikes, cars, buses, and once a tractor. Must be the dog equivalent of short man syndrome!

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    1. Oh, I totally meant to comment on that post of yours – must've gotten distracted or somethinhg, but I thought it was fantastic that you stood up to those idiots. I mean, I've BEEN that girl – I'd have been your biggest fan if I were her!

      As for Rubin and Harry – yeah, I think there's definitely some kind of Small Dog Syndrome going on there! It's so weird: even if the bigger dog is growling and snarling at him, Rubin will be all bravado – totally crazy!

  7. You're a braver woman than I am but at the same time I applaud you! Take back your streets!

    But watch out for the stupid kid with 21 of his closest mates next time you're out for a walk. I'm just sayin'…

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  8. Wow, good for you! I have NO understanding of or patience with cheeky kids. You're absolutely right – they shouldn't have the privilege of being out alone if they can't behave like an integrated person in society. He's lucky all you had was words for him. Next time, you could offer him some pepper spray.

    <abbr>Amanda Nicole´s last blog post..wednesday is bunny shelter day</abbr>

    1. I'm seriously thinking of taking some pepper spray or something with me next time I venture into Bandit Country 0 – it's getting beyond a joke out there! I am glad I said something, though, because I totally agree – if no one ever tells these kids off, they'll just keep on doing stuff like this…

    1. Well, I think so 🙂 The "they're only kids!" attitude does seem to prevail at the moment, though (in society in general, I think) so I'm still half-expecting a visit from his angry parents, which is what happened the last time I stood up to a Bandit!

  9. Way to go! If that happened to me, I probably would have just panicked and pretended to be on the phone or something! But now, I think I will probably do what you did! 🙂 You are awesome!

    1. Ha, well I don't know if I'd recommend doing that – my temper sometimes just gets the better of me – but I do think kids need to learn their behaviour isn't acceptable. It's just horrible that people behave like that…

  10. i dont understand this redhead thing. i dont think its ugly really. and im not just saying that. i never knew people disliked redheads (im indian. there are no redheads in india.). i actually like red hair.

  11. What's that quote something like – It only takes one good man to turn away from evil for evil to succeed. Perhaps not like that, but that is my interpretation. Well done, just be careful out there though.

  12. Btw, pit bulls are actually really friendly! I have a bull terier myself and he is just the most friendly dog ever and he’d never attack a smaller dog (but he does hunt hedgehogs for some reason?!:D) but those kids just sound annoying as hell. If someone did that to me I’d prolly give them more than just a piece of my mind!

    1. Yeah, I did note that it was probbaly friendly, but you can never know for sure with any dog, and I just think it's bad manners to allow your pet to bother someone when they're clearly not happy with the attention. Rubin is very small and fluffy and I always worry that larger dogs will think he's food!

  13. lol,

    you're really funny! I loved how you dealt with that kid! I started laughing the moment you turned around and asked him the first time!

    Love the post!

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