"Have you got this on your mobile? The moment your friend died? You can post it on the Internet. Should get you a laugh or two. Seems fair to me - one death for two laughs. I don't care. Ridding the world of a little s**t like this just means that there is one less of you to go."

I had been walking down the High Street when I'd witnessed an incident that had become known as 'Happy Slapping'. A new trend working its way into society, a nasty attitude brought by a nasty element. Copy cats exist everywhere. Not an original idea of their own. Simply not bright enough to think of anything. Led by the nose by simple suggestion. What advertising says is fashionable. TV doesn’t even require the ability to read. Things that are acceptable to a twisted mind.

"Hey, Mister, we were only 'avin' a bit of fun."

I had followed this group for a little way up the street. They were all too dumb to imagine that there may be consequences.

"Your idea of fun is assaulting an innocent member of the public who you've never seen before. Just a child. Doubtless you've never heard of ABH. Actual Bodily Harm. Your idea of 'Happy Slapping' is to punch someone in the side of the head. In the ear and maybe make them deaf or worse?"

That's the nasty act I'd witnessed: a young girl maybe only 15 or 16 years old. Hit around the side of the head from behind. An easy victim for a street thug. A common assault in broad daylight.

"Well, you are going to find out what an assault really is. Big Boys games and no more kids' stuff. You want to play with the Big Boys, don't you? Whether you like it or not I'm in your game."

One of the gang was laying on his back in front of me on the ground with my foot across his throat. I wasn't pressing hard. Yet. This animal could still breath, but he was pinned down nevertheless. I'd struck him from behind with the palm of my right hand. Just behind the right ear. Instantly disoriented. No lasting effect, but totally dazed maybe for only a few seconds, but he had dropped to the floor as though poleaxed.

"Hey Mister, what are you doin'. Let him up, will yer?"

What a ridiculous request. Clearly, this youth had no conception of where this was going. No conception of the gravity of their situation or what had caused it.

"Do what? Let this cowardly piece of rubbish up? You don't just look stupid then, you really are stupid, aren't you? Don't waste your time trying to work that one out because I really don't care what you think."

After the young girl had fallen to the ground unconscious the thug carrying a mobile phone, the type of phone that contains a camera, went up to the girl and took her picture to add to those already taken of the attack itself.

"I want you to take a photo with your mobile of each of your friends. And don't forget to take one of yourself. If you act quickly, you might be able to save your friend's life. You can show the police the evidence of you beating up a child. And me standing over a live body - at the moment alive anyway."

By this time a small crowd had gathered. The commotion had interested a lot of people. Each thug being carefully watched and scrutinised. Faces remembered. Details noted. The young girl had come around and was being looked after by some passersby. These thugs were caught in a circle of spectators and were clearly becoming very agitated and frightened.

"What's the matter with you lot? You aren’t saying much. I know what it probably is. You have no idea what to do. This bit of dirt underneath my foot must be your leader. The one who tells you all what to do. Amazing. A collection of morons."

The look on their faces suggested I was right. The blank look of terrified kids. I felt quite sorry for them, but only for a fleeting moment. Until I looked over at the young girl. One of their numerous victims. With any luck, the stupid morons would have kept the photographic images of their cleverness on the mobile camera phone. Pictures of their triumphs.

"So that's how you imagine the uniform looks. Hoods up during the day as though you're cold. Baseball caps under the hood, I expect. Orange will suit you all quite well when you go out into the community to do good things. Yellow would be more appropriate though. No hoods, I'm afraid. Take your hoods down."

No movement.

"Take your f***ing hoods down," I shouted.

That got an instant response. Baseball caps were revealed in every case. All good little soldiers, dressed properly in uniform: dirty white trainers, coloured sports trousers and the ubiquitous baseball cap.

Movement stirred underfoot. I trod a little heavier.

"If you move again, you will definitely not even see this afternoon. The police should be here any minute now. Your friend with the camera phone just called them for me."

© Louis Brothnias (2005), Rev 2 (2008)

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