At 9pm this evening we walked into town — to the pub where our middle daughter waits tables, to meet her from work, have a drink, and walk home together. A quiet end to a busy week.
On approach to the pub we didn’t quite know what was happening — there were large groups of teenagers standing on all sides of the road junction adjacent to the pub and the nearby park. We estimated somewhere between fifty to a hundred of them milling around. We walked through them without issue and found a quiet table in the almost empty pub.
Moments later our youngest daughter (never one to miss out on a free drink) spotted police in the road outside, and ran to the pub window — breathlessly reporting on events unfolding outside. The police were talking to the group, who were beginning to walk away from the park. Now the police were entering the park. Now a lot more kids were coming out of the park (emerging from the darkness). It was all very exciting.
My other half glanced out of the window, and her eyes widened.
“There’s hundreds of them!”
We tried to figure out what might be going on — was it just one of the schools pupils meeting at term end? Surely there were too many children. Was it a social media gathering that had gotten out of control? Perhaps. We had no way of finding out, and our daughter emerged from the kitchens anyway — joining us to hear all about the excitement outside.
A few minutes later we began our walk home, and a sizeable group followed us — perhaps fifty yards behind. Given the glacial speed my other half tends to walk, they rapidly caught us — shouting conversations across the road at each other, swearing, laughing, and creating the kind of mayhem you might expect a group of teens to create.
We spotted the police we had seen earlier standing in the doorway of a late night store, talking to the owner. We imagined the police might have been called to help deal with the army of teenagers who now fell mostly quiet as they passed behind us.
It was all fine. And then it wasn’t.
A little way further on we heard a bottle smash behind us, volleys of shouting, and footfalls approaching rapidly. Moments later two teen boys ran past, one throwing a bottle at the other. It exploded across the road, the footpath, and up the legs of the intended target. I’m still not sure how his ankle wasn’t broken. I stopped dead, as did everybody else in the road, and the boy that did it probably realised he had instantly become the biggest asshole in the street — and tried desperately to vanish into the crowd.
I stopped and warned a motorist in a parked car preparing to drive down the road that he might want to go in the opposite direction, given what had just happened.
We exited stage left — taking a back road route, rather than continue on in the same direction as the teenagers. Our youngest daughter was pretty shaken, but I made light of it and tried to change the subject. When we got home I messaged a friend with teen children nearby, wondering if she had any clue what might have been going on. No clue.
I guess we’ll never know. Perhaps it really was a social media organised gathering that got out of hand. There were far too many kids to have originated from one school, or one town — given typical year numbers, and the proportion that might head out to meet friends in town.
I do wonder though — if their parents will ever learn what happened this evening — or if the first they learn will be stories on local Facebook groups and newspapers.