Brush with yob rule

'BITCH!" The hoody with the spotty face spat the word out. In the safety of his huddle of fellow idiots, he felt brave enough to hurl this insult at Mrs S.

I bet he'd have loved to have come up with something better but I've no doubt that his limited vocabulary let him down.

The rest of them just stared at the two of us with those blank, hopeless expressions that are so common on our streets.

How had it come to this?

We had taken a Sunday afternoon stroll to Normanton cemetery and had suffered the misfortune of falling in behind one of the countless groups of wasters who roam around with nothing better to do than to look for trouble.

There were six or seven of them, wearing the standard uniform of scruffy baseball caps, striped sweaters and tracksuit pants that mark out those destined for a life lived, largely, at the taxpayer's expense.


As they passed one of the few small outbuildings within the graveyard, one reached out to the tap on the wall and turned in on full pelt.

At this point Mrs S – who in her school kitchen has seen many a young angel grow into a teenage monster – cried out: "Oi! Turn that tap off, now!"

One of the group, on a bike, looked back at us accusingly and the group disappeared round a corner.

Out of eyesight but not out of earshot.

The first call of "Bitch!" was quickly followed by a further volley of abuse.

"Go shoot yourself full of heroin, son," I shouted back. "You'll be happier then."

It was a pathetic response, I know, but it was all I could muster against the powerlessness I felt.

I suppose I was grateful they didn't come after us.

We've all read about what can happen if you provoke a gang.

This lot, I'm pretty sure, were too intellectually vacant to be dangerous but I was glad when we began to put some distance between us.

An old chap walking his dog, who'd seen what had happened, passed us.

"There's nowt you can do to 'em," he said with a shake of his head.

"I would if I had a gun," replied Mrs S.

It's a sentiment, I'm sure, which is shared by many of us – not that the law would have any sympathy.

Personally, I reckon we'd be better off sending their like to some isolated salt mine – surely there must be one in the wilds of Scotland – where they could spend their empty days digging out rocks under conditions of hard labour.

At least, that way, we'd keep our roads gritted during the winter.

Mrs S and I continued our walk and it took us past the small, plain white gravestones of two young soldiers who had given their lives for their country in the First World War.

It's a sad irony that their ultimate sacrifice has granted people like our six or seven hopeless wasters the freedom to make a mockery of the values which the rest of us hold so dear.

Passport plunder

I THINK I've discovered Gordon Brown's secret masterplan.

And, no, before you ask, I didn't find it on a carelessly mislaid computer disk.

I reckon the plan is a simple one – make this country so miserable that everybody wants to escape it and then hit them with a hefty tax for doing so.

There are taxes that you know about – you see – and there are those that strike when you least expect it and knock a rather large hole in your pocket.

And I blame Mr Brown for a lot of them.

As Chancellor, despite all his carping about "prudence", he was as much a tax and spend junkie as his "old" Labour predecessors.

But Brown was a sly old fox and a lot of what he was Hoovering up out of our pockets was carefully kept away from the headlines.

The phrase "stealth tax" has been much used in recent years and with good reason.

And the Scott family was hit with one this week – to the tune of 262.

For that's what it costs a hard-working family of four to renew two passports and to take out a first adult passport for an over 16 and a child's passport for a younger family member.

It's a hefty old whack to the accounts by any standards and is, by my reckoning, just another example of how the Government grabs our money in ways that we seldom consider.

I'll pay it – because I would rather like to escape from our faltering economy and the worries it brings for at least a couple of weeks this year.

But I'd be lying if I said 262 didn't hurt.

What raises the heckles even more is that you pay it knowing there's more than an outside chance that the Government will lose the personal details you have enclosed with the cheque.

And, not only that, that they may end up in the hands of some ne'er-do-well who, ironically, could well be in this country on a fake passport.

Sting in the tail for United fans

YOU could almost sense something was afoot when Ken Bates recently started giving lots of interviews about his grand plans for Elland Road.

The Leeds chairman recently unveiled ambitious proposals for two new hotels (we can't, incidentally, find enough people these days to fill the hotels we already have in Leeds – apart from when we get floods) and a classy shopping arcade at the ground.

He also wants Elland Road to stage a succession of music concerts – and would rather like the council to build the much talked about (and talked about is all it seems to be) Leeds Arena next to the stadium.

"Good for Ken," we all thought.

And then came the sting in the tale.

Season ticket prices are being hiked by an inflation-busting 10 per cent for adult season ticket holders who renew for the 2008-09 campaign

before March 1.

And adult fans who put off renewing until between March 2 and April 28 will have to fork out an extra TWENTY per cent for their tickets compared to this season.

And this comes with no guarantee of promotion which, judging by recent results, is no longer the certainty it once seemed.

True, Leeds slashed their prices for this season – and the club has benefited from hugely increased match-day crowds.

But the club cannot now take those fans' goodwill for granted.

This unwelcome rise – coupled with chief executive Shaun Harvey's arm-twisting insistence that the fans who pay it in these times of general household belt-tightening are "doing their bit for the team" – seems to suggest it is doing just that.

Jeremy Corbyn

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