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Life in an Interesting Town

When I was at high school, the school library was a constant source of wonder. I suspect the local council library service dumped all the books that no-one borrowed from the public libraries on us. Despite that, the school library had some gems. One was basically a handbook for running a guerrilla war. It was called, I think I've got this right, “The Memoirs of General Grivas”. Grivas, for those of you under the age of seventy, ran a late-1950s guerrilla campaign on Cyprus aimed at getting the British out and the Greek Government in. Now, looking back, I'm a little surprised that a school library would put a book detailing how to establish and run a terrorist organisation into the hands of impressionable children. It didn't quite spell out how to make a bomb from stuff found in the average Scottish kitchen, but it wasn't far off from that degree of detail.
Sadly, few of us needed instruction on how to terrorise a community. We already had a gang of kids in town who did pretty much as they liked. If they didn't get invited to a party, they showed up any way. If they weren't admitted to the party they had two choices. One was quick; one required a little patience. The quick option involved smashing all the windows in the house where the party was being held. The second choice meant waiting until someone left the party and then beating them savagely. No-one would want to involve the cops because appearance on a court witness list meant, at best, a life-threatening kicking. Law and Order tends to break down when no-one will testify in court. It was a small town that I grew up in and if the bad guys didn't know where you lived, their lawyers did. Sadly, I think there are lawyers out there who only care about winning. I don't know how much allowing witnesses to give their address as “Care of The Police Station” improved matters. I also don't know if the gang's reign of terror took a hit when they killed a cop. I do know that when a friend and I were attacked outside the police station by some of the junior members of the gang (none its convicted killers were present), the cops only came out after the fighting was over. Actually, I do recall a court case involving one of the gang leaders which ended in a couple of convictions. It involved some plea bargaining. An attempted murder charge was dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to assault and an armed robbery involving an axe became a guilty to breach of the peace. The Chinese have a saying, a curse actually, “May you live in interesting times”. I wonder if the Scottish version should be “May you live in an interesting town”.
 

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