Violent Crime on the Up – How are you supposed to get on your bike?

*Good to see Boris back in the D T*

**Lucky Cherie to have bumped in to him**

You know, I have always had a soft spot for Cherie Blair. You may think I am mad, but I have resented the attacks on her, and suspected that it is to do with the jealousy that surrounds a successful, high-earning woman who possesses a mind of her own.

Good on you, Cherie, baby, I say to myself, when I read about her interest in New Age crystals and her showers with Carole Caplin. Don’t you take any notice, girl, I say, when people make uncalled-for personal remarks. A lot of people might say that Cherie looks pretty foxy, especially when you consider the strain of being married to Blair.

And who cares about the fees she clocks up on her American lecture tours? The sooner she and her husband are engaged full-time in addressing church halls in Minnesota, the happier we will all be.

Yes, I have been a long-standing secret Cherie fan, and so you can imagine my shock when I met her for the first time last Friday morning.

There she was, coming up the platform towards me at Runcorn, all in brown, with fluttering eyelashes. There I was, going the other way. There was nothing for it. Our eyes met; Special Branch melted away; and for a few brief minutes, as we walked up the stairs and over the bridge to her cavalcade, we had a perfectly pleasant conversation until – for reasons I still cannot fathom – she turned to me and puffed out her cheeks in a parody of obesity and said: “Aren’t you getting a bit fat? Isn’t it time you got back on your bike?”

Well, I blushed, of course. You’d blush, if you were told to take a bit more exercise by the Prime Minister’s wife. And I mention this not just to share my shame, but also to assure Cherie that, as soon as I got back to Euston, I did my best to follow her advice.

I went back to the rack, where I had locked my bike. I was all set, after this humiliation, to begin a Tour de Londres… And what did I find? I found my bike, all right, or rather the skeleton of my bike.

It was like the climax of The Old Man and the Sea, when the Old Man finally hauls the fish out of the Sea, and finds that it has been eaten from beneath by the little fish. It wasn’t a bike any more. It was a half-bike.

Someone had actually gone to the trouble of leaving the carcass, but stealing the rear wheel, without which, unless you are extremely skilful, a bicycle is useless and indeed not a bicycle in the technical sense of the word.

And, as I stood there in silent dejection, I thought that the whole experience was so utterly, utterly typical of this Labour Government. First there is the bossiness and the nannying. The Prime Minister’s very wife tells you to get on your bike, and then, when you try pathetically to comply with her demands, you find that her husband is presiding over such rampant crime that your steed has been fatally maimed.

It cost £70 to fix the damage, and the Labour Government wonders why nobody trusts it on crime. We have violent crime on the up; we have a public so scared of aggressive burglary that the Government resorts to sending them a leaflet telling them exactly when and how they may hit an intruder with a baseball bat; we have our streets full of cowled and feral youths, who curse and spit and swagger with impunity, and whose larceny is so uncontrollable that they steal not only our bicycles, but parts of our bicycles.

What is Blair doing about it, other than sending Cherie around to tell us to ride our mutilated machines? He is doing nothing about the root causes of crime, the indiscipline in schools, the miserable reversal in the relations between pupils and teachers, by which teachers are prevented from exercising the slightest authority over the budding bike-thieves in their charge, let alone chastising them.

The Government should be giving more powers back to teachers, and head teachers; and what is Labour doing instead? It is using the general sense of fear and insecurity to seize quite astonishing powers for central government, to the point where we are in serious danger of becoming a police state.

Last week, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, announced some stupefying proposals for detention without trial, by which you or I could be locked up indefinitely, in our own homes, on his say-so. What price Wilkes? What price liberty?

A freedom won for the people in the 18th century is to be swept away; though yesterday the Prime Minister had the grace to squirm when Michael Howard confronted him. He has agreed to discuss the vastly more sensible Tory policy, whose guiding principle is that, if the state has enough evidence to incarcerate a man, it should have enough evidence to put him on trial.

There is no reason why wire-tapping evidence could not be screened, as the Opposition proposes, by an investigating judge, to make sure that the defence has everything it needs. If we have the evidence, and we can convict these characters, then by all means let us bang them away; and if we can’t supply the evidence, then let us put them under surveillance, because no one could object, in current circumstances, to the watching of suspects.

And since we Tories are making the running so much at the moment, let me offer my own modest solution to the bike problem, by which we could begin to restore a sense of decency and civility and respect to our streets. As part of a general zero-tolerance approach, I propose that we flood the streets with baited bicycles, equipped either with indelible dye or cameras or homing devices. Then we’d have all the evidence we need, and we could reward these bike thieves with exemplary punishment of sharia-style severity.

We Tories are in favour of freedom. That means habeas corpus, and caveat latro. Thieves beware.

40 thoughts on “Violent Crime on the Up – How are you supposed to get on your bike?”

  1. I really hate it when I agree with Tory policy, but…

    Mind you, I suppose it would be pretty difficult for any party to have policies when eroded personal liberties more than Labour currently are doing.

  2. Boris and the bike theives

    Boris Johnson has had his bike stolen. Well, part of it anyway:

    Someone had actually gone to the trouble of leaving the carcass, but stealing the rear wheel, without which, unless you are extremely skilful, a bicycle is useless and indeed not a bicy…

  3. You just know it was Cherie herself… the whole “why don’t you get on your bike” thing really gave it away.

    Increased crime under Labour goes like a stamp to a letter.

  4. I grew up with the kind of people (OK I was the kind of person) who’d nick someones bike bits for either a) a laff or b) to replace the bits missing from our own bikes.

    To be honest, I can’t tell the difference now I’m a working, homeowning, baggy eyed keyboard basher – there was naff all to do in our village when I was a teenager (apart from the church youth club) so we broke stuff, did drugs and nicked things. It passed the time back then, until we were old enough to either learn how to stop messing about get into crime properly or realise the potential of earning money the legal way and settle down to a rather mundane existance.

    Now my mum complains about the latest bunch of louts who ring her doorbell and run off or smash the new local tesco ‘metro’ sign (bye bye local newsagent…)

    Blame polititians for rising crime? why not, it’s something to do. (beats setting fire to rubbish bins down the park, but only just).

  5. You’re supposed to hit the blighters with a cricket bat, not a baseball bat. At a pinch rounders. I think you’ll find that that method of attack is approved.

  6. Well written, even I am tempted to agree with a Tory. More polititians should be like this man here.

  7. > Then we’d have all the evidence we need, and we could reward these bike thieves with exemplary punishment of sharia-style severity.

    Cut their derailleurs off?

  8. Great article Boris. I love your faint praise for Cherie Blair, as I too have only faint praise for her.

    Regarding the bicycle theft, I know how terrible it is to have your property stolen. But could you explain why you didn’t lock up both your wheels with the bicycle (as all good cyclists are want to do) and would you mind speculating on who the thieves are and what their motives were?

    “Police are looking for youths pushing a bicycle wheel”?
    “Police found an abandoned wheel in a ditch and request anyone with information on the joyriders to come forward”?

  9. To The Count:

    Often a thief will take unlocked bits from several bikes to make a complete bike with which to depart. So Boris’ back wheel probably went onto the back of another bike that was just locked by the back wheel.

    Anyway, comiserations to Boris from another mobile phone using, stopping at red lights cyclist.l

  10. Andy B has a point. A lot of crime is caused by bored kids. You only have to visit the shops (or any light structure) in a small town to see bored youth hanging around.

    I’m not a fan of the idea that we should all be providing something for them to do to save the poor dears. I think they should find something useful and interesting to do for themselves. But we do need to help this.

    How ? Stop the media and politicians treating anyone with a hobby or interest as some sort of wierdo. You won’t get a mention of any spare time activity (other than watching telly or binge drinking) in the media without the word “anorak” popping up in the report. Politicians are no better with thier matra that we should all work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (Mrs T was proud to have no interests outside politics, Tony B is a, “24 hour, 7 day a week PM”).

    To take an extreem example, who gets more abuse from the press:

    A) The IRA
    B) Trainspotters
    C) Drunks beating each other up in the street

    Answer – B. You might not see the point of writing down train numbers but it makes some people happy and they aren’t doing anyone any harm.

    Lets return to the days when people had interests outside work that they shared with other people. Who knows, we might even see the return of communities.

  11. Too right. Bicycle thieves are the scum of the earth. I’m a little worried that Boris might have been careless in his cycle security routine, but that doesn’t excuse the crime. I’m 100% with him on the detention without trial issue – though I doubt it’ll ever apply to the common bicycle thief – and I entirely agree that teachers should have more disciplinary power in schools (be careful with that one all the same).

    My only problem is the proposition that voting for the Conservatives will somehow miraculously stop kids wearing hoods and spitting and swaggering, and make bicycle thievery a thing of the past. There were bored stupid teenagers under Macmillan, and bored stupid teenagers under Wilson, and bored stupid teenagers under Callaghan, and bored stupid teenagers under Thatcher, and bored stupid teenagers under Major.

    The problem’s cultural, not political. Changing partners in the House of Commons is about as helpful as wrapping your handlebars in blue tape rather than red.

    I’m with you on the indelible dye, though…

  12. Good and wise comment Mark – just as I’m sure your fab BRITON book is !!!

    I do agree that the youth may have been bored in the olden days but not sure if they resorted to so much violent crime – only to be put in prisons that resemble 4* hotels! Prisons should really be prisons/dungeons I think, and not too cushy …

  13. Jozef – really liked your link! fascinating 🙂 esp the comments about Tony Blair wanting to stay to go beyond Thatcher’s record

    You do make me LOL !!!

  14. Wasn’t me, myself & I an honourable gentleman too? I let you to comment first …

    (PS: While my thoughts are always honorable, I better stop elaborating further as Boris might ponder on my intentional comments at Fiend)

  15. Diky, Ta…

    I trully enjoyed the creative pun, Melissa, which included words like back, head and eyes (hono(u)rable grin)

    PS: I know that you Londoners might remember a fiendly Liverpool band so if you are thinking of an election musical theme here it comes: What do you get when you cross The Monkeys with The Beatles? Paperback Believer:

    It was mixed by that wild Mark Vidler of Go Home Productions

  16. Being foreign, I fear I’m completely out of line here, but I seem to recall that 10 years ago, when I was in Scotland, teachers already did not have any disciplinary powers, and the government was not Labour then.
    I remember a little 7-year old -if that- telling me that he’d report me for telling him to shut up while he was gleefully disrupting the class. Maybe he’s moved to your neighbourhood and has started nicking bicycle wheels, who knows…

  17. Melissa – glad it got there. Please let me know if anyone likes it. We struggling writers need all the sweet-talking we can get…

    You’re right about the violent crime, btw. Don’t really see Boris’s bicycle thieves as violent, though I’m sure it must have been a distressing experience finding it dismembered like that. I have three of the things myself and they’re all loved and laboured over. Just let me catch anyone removing a wheel from my Silver Dream Machine – it could even get violent…

    (I have a strange sinking feeling that I just wrote myself into a corner)

  18. People are still stealing only the wheels? Around here they seem to carry metal cutters, clip the wire/chain away and take the whole bike.
    Aren’t there better things to take? Like iPod’s? Or mobile phones with that annoying Crazy Frog thing on? Yes. Preferably the mobiles with the Crazy Frog thing on.

  19. Anne – I’m outraged – and what you describe is a microcosm of what is happening in our country as a whole. No wonder you’ve gone elsewhere – what are we coming to?…

  20. Chris – good question.

    Discipline in children for orderly behaviour and hope that that will eventually be reflected in civil behaviour as an adult?…

  21. Andy B writes –

    ‘Stop the media and politicians treating anyone with a hobby or interest as some sort of wierdo.’

    To his list I would like to add:

    Players of Dungeons & Dragons.
    Listener’s Of Heavy Metal Beat Combo’s
    Watcher’s Of Dawson’s Creek and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
    Any one who tries to do something interesting in the local newspapers which tend to be very bland.
    Cheer Leader’s With Blue a go-go pom-pom’s.

  22. Having one of those bad-bike days myself a few weeks ago, I got a puncture. I locked up the bike at King’s Cross and continued by public transport.

    Returning to the bike later with tools, I removed the wheel to take to the shop for repair. What amazed me was that not one person asked me what I was doing removing a wheel from the bicycle. I had no problems walking off with it from the ‘secure’ area of the station.

    Later, I returned with a fixed wheel to find someone had stolen my mudguards. Not surprised.

    The ‘baited bike’ is clearly such a necessary tool. The police and insurance companies couldn’t give a hoot about stolen bikes & parts. Perhaps some cycling organisation could get together and buy some exploding bicycles to leave around London.

  23. Radio 5 today (Sunday) spent an entire hour discussing the merits or otherwise of bike riding. AND NOT A TRACE OF BORIS. Damn the post-Hutton BBC!

  24. Melissa writes –

    ‘U R da gr8est Nick !!!’

    I know I am. I’m wonderful. I’m the best thing since sliced bread. I’m better then two bottles of wine on a saturday night. And I will always defend my belt.

  25. > To his list I would like to add: Players of Dungeons & …


    * Sci Fi fans
    * Trainspotters
    * Anorak wearers

    Don’t they deserve a break, too? Everyone has been laughing at these poor folk for years.

    And if cyclists, why not skateboarders?
    And if Motorhead fans, why not “Goths”? – always excepting Alaric.

    However, there should be a _fatwa_ against people who chew gum (specially the ones who drop it on the pavement). Not sure I go for cyclists who jump the lights or ride on the pavement either … and, IIRC. didn’t the “sainted one” (as Taki calls his editors) much to his disgust get reprimanded by a woman who spotted him cycling dangerously?

    Maybe he’s safer dewheeled. p-)

  26. Kay Writes

    ‘Nick if you’re so jolly marv, then offer a fine solution to the bike stealing mysteries ?’

    Hmm….this is a hard one but I may be able to find by way around this.

    We could begin by making it law that when you chain your bike and leave it in the open then you will have also to chain a cheerleader to the bike as well. The thief – mostly young lads in hoodies – will then try to chat up the hot tottie in chains rather then pinching the bike. In fact he may free the hot tottie and run off with her, so when you come back the cheerleader will be gone but the bike will still be there. Boris could try this one out.

    In fact, we could market the patent as Boris Johnson’ Bike defence mechanizm! Would go down well with the young tory voting posse.

  27. Nick , let me guess …you sell Cheerleaders and have just bought a truck load of blue pom poms on ebay ?

  28. …many of us do –

    Kay’s joined the club – yay !

    ps fabulous crime prevention idea btw (will miss all this while away next week ) 🙁

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