This evening as I hurtled towards a corner of London I had no intention of going to on a train I had had no intention of getting on I saw a scene I would never have wished to see.
Right next to me were your typical family of four: mother, father and two sons. The one son was probably about 12 or 13, the other about 4. The older brother I know was called Lee. I know this from the frequent, pained implorings of his younger sibling. I have no idea what the young boy himself was called, unless of course his name is in fact “gay”, “gay boy” or “fag”, apparently the most favoured monikers of his family.
It was disgusting. I couldn’t believe their behaviour towards this little boy. They kept on slapping him, flicking him in the head and tormenting him by snatching his toys from him. Of course, they would say it was all playful – in the spirit of jest – but the child was clearly failing to see funny side. Perhaps his vision was blurred by all the tears.
The saddest thing was that when his brother hit him: he turned desperately to his father for protection but he only laughed, congratulated his elder son with a pat on the back and then proceeded to kick his youngest in the groin. The wincing child then turned to his mother. Surely she would show him some kindness, some love, hell just some basic decency. Nope! Her words of sweet solace and motherly reassurance were: What you crying for? You don’t have nothing down there” followed by a swift rap to the head – just for good measure. The completely confused child, knocked and batted this way and that, turned back to his brother: “Lee. Lee. Lee” Cue another ear flick and shin kick. On to Daddy. On to Mummy. The cycle just went on and on, unbroken. Where was the love?
At one point a look of joy flashed across the older brother’s face as he realised that swiping the wallet of his Oyster card across his brother’s cheek made a satisfying ‘thwock‘. He said: “Dad, look at this!” The Dad promptly laughed and said: “Give it ‘ere.” having a go himself and whacking his own child with a bit of plastic just so he could hear that comical sound.
They clearly got off on tormenting this little kid. It was like watching three cruel schoolboys pull the wings off a row of flies they’ve carefully collected just for the pleasure or spying someone slowly drown a bee in honey out of some sick sense of irony.
I’ve been told that I moralise too much and perhaps I do. But I can’t believe that this passes for parenting and this only what they are happy enough to do on a crowded, rush-hour train. It was despicable and tonight I find myself still feeling and fearing for that poor boy.