Coward’s Dilemma

Posted: December 5, 2009 in 1
Tags: , , , ,
I had almost for got about this one…
Read this in the London Times over the summer….I was so disgusted with this pansy I sent him a lengthy Email.  I have the article followed by my email.
I wonder what happened to the England that once ruled the world?  What happened to the England who sent up the pilots who shot down Nazi attackers 10-1 during the Battle of Brittain?    The Londoners who pulled together during the blitz?  I’m just sick in my heart when I think how far they have fallen…..
July 7, 2009

The dad dilemma: take on the hoodies or walk away?

When a gang of surly teens took over the local park, they were a threat to Mark Piggott’s children — and his male pride

On sunny afternoons, having collected the kids from school, I am sometimes coerced into making a minor detour through a nondescript North London park. The equipment is meagre and battered; there are so many stone steps and steep drops that the place resembles a game of Tomb Raider and, as nothing overlooks the playground, it is both a doggy convenience and a youth hangout.

Today, there are eight or more teenagers, mostly in hoodies, being noisy on the swings. Two women from a local action group are bravely asking the youths how the park could be improved. Then, politely, I ask one of these interviewees to move so that my five-year-old daughter can use a swing. He ignores me, so I walk up and ask again. He stands there for a moment, staring into my eyes with tedious insolence, before slowly moving back a step.

Most of the gang leave but this youth and his mate linger. The interviewers, oblivious to the rising tension, ask what improvements I would like to see as a father. Ignoring the leering elephant in the room (the park would be improved immensely if the yobs would go elsewhere), and louder than necessary (to show how down with the “yoot” I am), I express a wish that there were more facilities for older kids, so they didn’t have to hang around the playground.

As usual, my two-year-old son heads unerringly towards a steep drop and I charge after him. Suddenly, my daughter starts crying loudly. She points at the two youths, dangling inanely on the swings: “Those boys said something horrible to me!” I look at the two hoodies. They glare back. I try to reassure my daughter that she must be mistaken but she is insistent. As the youths stare at me with real malevolence, I ponder what to do, heart racing.

I have dreaded something like this since I became a dad. As a young man I got into fights but since having children I have tried to mellow, to demonstrate to my kids that violence is not the answer (and because I’m a 5ft 7in 42-year-old who never was particularly good at the whole scrapping malarkey). On the other hand, what message am I sending to my children by being pushed around? How can I tell my son to stand up for himself if I won’t stand up for him against bullies?

Life as a modern dad is full of these dilemmas. Working from home, I get to spend time with the children — and the dishwasher. As the son of a militant feminist, I was brought up thinking that this was A Good Thing. Yet recently I read a letter in The Times from a woman whose husband had lost his job; she found having him moping around the house all day very unsexy. Is there some deep part of my psyche that feels somehow emasculated?

Statistically, men are far more likely to inflict violence — and to be on the receiving end of it. Like most men, I’m probably more afraid of being thought a wimp than being hurt. I find the thought of these boys sniggering “That chicken — won’t even stand up for his own kids” as I walk away worse than being beaten or stabbed. I approach the two youths, childishly gratified to see the first element of doubt in their eyes.

“Did you just say something to my daughter?” I ask them. There’s a silence that seems to last aeons. I sense them sizing me up, seemingly making what might be a life-changing decision for us all. As I have recently written a report on the prevalence of knife crime in the capital, and several high-profile murders have taken place near by recently, I try to identify suspicious bumps in their clothing.

Finally one shrugs: “No.” To my dismay, my daughter insists that he’s lying, so I repeat the question. Both youths are still eyeing me up but I refuse to back down until they give me that elusive thing I realise I need, pathetically, as much as they do: respect. The boy again denies saying anything, but less emphatically this time. I say something like, “You really better not have done . . .” then trail off, not wanting to make threats I that might not honour.

To my relief, my son charges off. Grabbing my daughter, I run after him. When I look back the youths are still glaring from the swings. As we walk home, the realisation of what I’ve just done sets in. What if they had admitted that they had said something to my daughter? What if they had had knives? Instead of rising above the situation, I have just risked a violent scene in front of my young children.

When I contact Islington Council to complain about a lack of wardens, I am told that the park is not in Islington. I have to e-mail a photograph of the park sign, which has the council’s name on, to prove that it is. In response, they are quick to emphasise the wide array of local resources for young people.

Yet despite these resources, it seems that many teenagers would rather hang around harassing people, many of whom will probably shrug, walk away and think nothing more about it. By confronting the youths, not only have I risked physical violence but, if anything had happened, my kids would have been witnesses and possibly placed in danger themselves. So what is the right thing to do?

The Mayor of London recently advised Londoners — including his own four children — to walk away from trouble rather than get involved. But what would Boris Johnson do if someone picked on his children? I ask the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) what I should have done. The response is predictably anodyne: “The MPS recognises the concern residents have regarding antisocial behaviour. We work closely with other agencies to tackle the problem of youth crime. If anyone witnesses possible offences by youths, we advise them to contact police.”

Here lies my difficulty: were the youths committing an offence or simply being offensive? As I didn’t hear what they supposedly said maybe I should have backed off. But that’s what people do all the time: walk away, surrender our open spaces. The more I think about my actions, the more convinced I am that I did the right thing.

Just to make sure, I consult the clinical psychologist Linda Blair, whose book The Happy Child is published next month. “By approaching those youths you were placing your needs before those of your children,” she says. “By walking away you would have been protecting them and also providing a role model for the future.

“In this sort of situation you need to breathe in, hold it, then let the air out of your mouth. Ask yourself: is my child in immediate danger? If the answer is no, walk away. If they are in danger, you will do the right thing every time to protect your DNA, to preserve your own genetic material.”

On speaking to other parents, the general consensus seems to be that it is safer to turn the other cheek. One mum-to-be I spoke to recalled an experience when she was a child: “Some older boys made fun of me and my friend when we were with my mum. I was about 7. My mum shouted at them and they gave a bit of back chat and walked off. The next time I saw those boys, though, they made fun of me and my mum. I felt so hurt and embarrassed for her. I wished she hadn’t said anything to them in the first place. It has always really stuck in my mind. I think ignoring them is best as they are sad little individuals just trying to amuse their mates.”

Blair also dismisses my crisis of masculinity as nonsense. As she points out, women are just as capable of reacting when their children are threatened. Yet deep down, some immature part of me is glad that I did something to show those youths they can’t push me around.Having said all that, I haven’t returned to the park since.

Mark Piggott’s novel Fire Horses, published by Legend Press, is out now

And here is my response….dont think he liked it much… he certainly didn’t reply!


Dear Mr Piggott
I read your recent article The Dad Dilemma… with a throat full of vomit.  As kinder words fail me, ARE YOU SHITTING ME??????
I cry for England I really do, gone are the days of “We shall Fight them on the beaches….”  Now its DEEP BREATH AND WALK AWAY?????????
Great Brittan is slowly but surely becoming the nation of Great Chicken!  Your Grandfather would have chased Nazis into the Channel with a pitchfork and two generations later you can’t stand up to a bloody teenager in a sweatshirt??????????   If there is a Grave or Monument to Winston Churchill you need to go there, prostrate yourself and BEG for his forgiveness!!!!!!
What should you have done?  First of all, check to make sure you do, in fact, have a penis.  Second you use the fact that you are 42 years old and literate to realize you are SMARTER that some 2 bit puke in a sweatshirt.  USE YOUR BRAIN…..a teenager in a group who picks on a little girl on a swing where her daddy isn’t standing next to her is the first sign he is a coward and a bully….this means categorically he is more afraid then you are.  the fact that you are willing to face him to protect your daughter scares the fuck out of him, but he didn’t want to back down in front of his “mate” too fast, but he indeed wanted to back down.  When he wouldn’t admit what he said that was your indication of how scared he really was…if went toe to toe with you looked you in the eye and repeated what he said…now you would have a problem, but not an insurmountable one.  The minute he looks down or refuses to repeat himself you have won.  To make the victory complete….you say “I didn’t think so….I better not hear about you bothering little kids in their playground again or else we might have to have another chat” then turn and walk away without looking back.  That sentence is VERY Important and let me tell you why…..
I DIDN’T THINK SO….lets him a little off the hook while letting him know you think he is full of shit  I BETTER NOT HEAR OF YOU BOTHERING implies this is your neighborhood on you will know if they do it again LITTLE KIDS now you have shamed him for his behavior IN THEIR PLAYGROUND AGAIN you have just explained to him that this is not his turf OR ELSE WE MIGHT HAVE TO HAVE ANOTHER CHAT If you are to the point where you are saying this sentence…this kid is scared of you and does not want to see you again, but the most important thing is that in a court of law, should the little bastard call the cops on you, all you threatened him with is another stern talking to, which is a threat you can honor. Now by turning your back and walking you are further proving to him you are not afraid of him, it gives him a chance to make a rude gesture at you which will help him regain lost ego before he slinks away.  If you don’t allow him a little return of dignity  in front of his mate he is actually more dangerous.  With some of his manhood intact he will slink away….if you are lucky your daughter will deliver the cope de grasse and stick her tongue out at him as you lead her away…pretend not to notice
but what if he has a knife?  If he pulls a knife, it is becuse he afraid of losing a fistfight to you and believe it or not you have just won.  Crank up the shame game….”A knife? afraid of taking a beating are you?  oooh quite the big man aren’t you? etc Smile real big like this is EXACTLY what you wanted him to do….that alone will make him pause. Also now would be a good time to look at how he is holding the knife If he is holding it in his fist with the blade coming out thumb side and by his side or held out in front, he hasn’t a clue what to do with the weapon and keep up the pressure.  If he has the blade coming out the pinkie finger side and is holding it chest high or close to his body, you are in trouble because he knows what he is doing.  Stop talking and stare directly into his eyes and pray he doesn’t see any fear in them.  people this dangerous generally have more scary things to do bother little children so I doubt you will run into problems
The fight is won or lost before the first punch is thrown…
At NO TIME should you threaten to call the cops….this is an outright admission you have no penis and you will call someone else in to fight your battle for you…they will immediately cease to be remotely afraid of you and you are about to take a shellacking.
By avoiding the park, you have surrendered a piece of your neighborhood to them which is akin to appeasing Hitler…..they will just want more land. punks the world over like to believe they “rule”…..the worst thing you can so is fuel that belief
Also teaching you children that standing up for yourself is wrong is a TERRIBLE message.  God fordbid your daughter ever gets attacked by a rapist when she is older….do you want her to take a deep breath and let the guy have his way with her or fight for everythign she is worth? 
If you have read this far, I invite you to drop a line and I can give you some tips for how your neighbors can rid yourselves of the problem of the hoodies in the park without police or violence, I promise no more suggestions that you lack a penis only information.  Moreover, Grab your passport, hop a plane and I will bring you the gun range and turn you loose (safely and properly!) with several examples of how men and women in our country refuse to give in to thugs of every description.  I can arrange for an introductory defensive tactics class while here if you like.  
In the mean time I invite you to  to check it out.

  1. 2alago says:

    Need I mention he did not reply? They never do…..

  2. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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