Thursday, 3 July 2008

Blood on the Streets

Graceful, yet lethal, two young boys swing onto the Govan Road. One in a red jersey and one in blue, the fourteen year olds are landing punches around each other's face and head. Now they are in the middle of the road and a car is approaching in the dull glow of a summer's evening, but they pay it no heed, each intent on giving the other a doing.

The fracas has broken out at a close mouth. It's a designated gathering place for youths from twelve to twenty. Sometimes there are toty ones too, hanging around the periphery, playing with bikes and balls, watching the machinations of gang life until they are old enough or tough enough to be initiated.

The car slows down and stops, its way barred by the dancing fighters. They are pushing and pulling, grabbing and gouging, thumping fists onto jaws and battering against the body.
Reports of a knife crime epidemic abound, but here we witness a good old fashioned fist fight. All fair in love and war.

There is a lull and the boy in blue pulls away and makes off towards Rathlin Street. He has no supporters.
Now red jersey hangs back while his pals follow blue boy, walking close to him, heckling him, swearing and jeering.
A young girl, with bleached blonde hair and trendy dress, is chattering excitedly on a mobile phone. A barmaid leans against Richards' doorway, her look is impassive but her eyes methodically scan the faces and events.
At the corner of Shaw Street are a few more spectators, but no one intervenes, not even when the bunch of boys starts to push and pull the blue fighter and one slaps him across the head. Another punches him in the abdomen and the boy drops to the ground.
The original red jersey fighter joins them and now he and his comrades start kicking the blue boy lying in the road - not viciously, but with half hearted scuffs, as though it is enough that he has fallen.
He lies motionless on the smooth tarmac, curled up, protecting his head with his arms.

The doors of the Harmony Bar open and out strides a burly guy in his thirties wearing a Celtic away top of ten seasons ago. His laid back swagger exudes the confidence of one who is respected on the street. A little smile plays at his lips but he adopts a stern look as he draws nearer the incident. At his approach, most boys withdraw, back towards the close. Among them is red jersey, whose blood runs in streams from his mouth and nose. Big man stops two of the boys and puts his hands on their shoulders, talking to them quietly, leaning closely into their faces. They nod in acquiescence and walk smartly away in the opposite direction.

The injured boy on the ground clambers to his feet and takes off down the street, a little unsteadily, but with good speed.
Back at the close mouth, the gang is in a state of merry camaraderie and the humour is well good.

1 comment:

Madeline said...