Straight out of Tottenham (Court Road)

Lucy Reade

I’d been living in London no less than a month when I had my first harrowing experience with knife crime. I was up Tottenham Court Road walking with some friends when we were cornered by a man who wanted us to hand over all our money. I’m sure many readers will already know exactly what I am talking about, having likely faced similar moments of distress themselves. I am of course referring to a run-in with one of the persistent volunteers for anti-knife crime campaigns. They seem to emerge from the shadows of Goodge Street Station and target unsuspecting pedestrians too polite to simply put their headphones in and walk past these blue-jacketed do-gooders. This particularly tenacious man we encountered that day had a unique strategy for garnering our sympathy. It was amicable enough at first: he asked if we’d heard of knife crime. The situation escalated after we (half) truthfully told him we were late for a lecture, and he generously insisted on walking with us. In another life, I definitely would have donated, or at least taken a pamphlet – the Knife Crime epidemic is a massive issue for the youth of today! As an avowed Instagram infographic sharer, I would never dream of overlooking such a cause. Unfortunately, my traumatic memory of being wounded in a perilous courgette slicing accident made it difficult to even make eye contact. However, the azure-coated man showed no signs of letting up, so we quickened our pace and broke free from the zone in which I assume he was permitted to tread (just past the Pastation if you must know). This clearly drove him over the edge, as he shouted after us “Oh, so you don’t care about young men being killed then?”. Ah, yes, because the way to make us change our minds, turn heel and hand over our maintenance loan was to indict us as accessories to murder. Needless to say, we refused to plead.