Fam­ily is the right an­swer

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis - Vene­tia Thompson

WAS acting Metropoli­tan po­lice com­mis­sioner Tim God­win jok­ing when he ap­pealed to par­ents to “start con­tact­ing their chil­dren and ask­ing where they are” dur­ing last week’s ri­ots? You can imag­ine the phone calls — or rather text mes­sage con­ver­sa­tions — as­sum­ing they even have their kids’ lat­est num­bers and they bother check­ing one of their three phones: “Where r u?” “Chillin” “Where?” “Round my mates in­nit.” Their moth­ers might push it a lit­tle fur­ther if they’re feel­ing brave, per­haps try ac­tu­ally call­ing, but I’d guess most of the time this is as far as a con­ver­sa­tion would ever go be­fore they are sworn at or just ig­nored.

God­win’s naivety was touch­ing — from his use of the plu­ral (when was the last time any­one came across a thug with ‘par­ents’?) to the ap­peal it­self. Per­haps he was ex­pect­ing Life of Brian-style cries of ‘he’s not a gang­ster, he’s a very naughty boy’, or per­haps he thought the thou­sands of ab­sent fathers might sud­denly resur­face from wher­ever it is they all dis­ap­pear to (jail? Ma­galuf?) and take some re­spon­si­bil­ity for one of their many er­rant off­spring.

I’m all for op­ti­mism but it’s just laugh­ably un­re­al­is­tic at the start of what felt like the be­gin­ning of a bad zom­bie film: we all know it only ever has one end­ing and it doesn’t in­volve the zom­bie par­ents call­ing up their vi­o­lent, mind­less, un­rec­og­niz­able chil­dren and ask­ing them if they could please stop ram­pag­ing through the streets and come home with­out at­tack­ing any­one. God­win is the ‘acting’ po­lice com­mis­sioner - per­haps a good start­ing point would have been at the very least acting as if he had a vague idea of the sever­ity of the wide­spread fam­ily and com­mu­nity break­down go­ing on around him. I hate to point out the ob­vi­ous, but for ‘par­ents to start con­tact­ing their chil­dren’, we need par­ents.

Of course what these vile kids re­ally need is more than par­ents — they need the ultimate su­per­par­ent: the Jewish mother. At any mo­ment she could un­leash her se­cret weapon: force-feed them into post­pran­dial som­no­lence (no­body feels like schlep­ping down to Deben­hams and smash­ing it to pieces on a full stom­ach) and if that failed she could sim­ply hound them into sub­mis­sion with nev­erend­ing phone calls. She’d have ev­ery phone num­ber of ev­ery friend or girl­friend her son had ever made, along with said friend’s mother’s, grand­mother’s and sis­ter’s num­bers and ad­dresses and would call them all un­til her son was lo­cated and sent home for more food.

The fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance of com­mu­nity (if you don’t know where your son is some­one will) and sitting down and break­ing bread as a fam­ily can­not be over­stated. Much has been said of chicken soup’s medic­i­nal qual­i­ties, but I would haz­ard a guess that it’s also rather good at pre­vent­ing ri­ots…

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