Standing up to the yobs at 80

First published in From The Editor's Chair The Northern Echo: Blog: Editor Peter Barron by

MY mum is wonderful. It’s a statement I make unashamedly, because that’s what she is. And if you can’t say it at Christmas, when can you say it?

She’s 80, lives on her own, and is full of goodness. She loves to help others and spends hours every week,working as a volunteer on a community garden near her home on Teesside, to make it nice for others to enjoy.

Last week, she went to Middlesbrough railway station to buy a ticket because she was planning to visit my brother in Manchester.

As she was leaving the station, she noticed that two young men with hoods over their heads were following her in a way clearly meant to be intimidating. Fearing she was about to be mugged, she clung on to her bag.

They then rushed up to her from behind and jumped in front of her. One shouted in her face, waving his arms in a way intended to shock. They walked away laughing and left her shaking with fright.

But my Mum went through the Blitz and then became a Land Army girl, so she’s made of stern stuff. She followed the two scumbags, keeping pace with them all the way into Middlesbrough town centre.

When there were plenty of people around, she caught up with them and grabbed one by them by scruff of the neck.

She wouldn’t let go as she shouted as loud as she could in his face: “Did you think that was funny? Do you? Have you got a mother?”

The cowardly little toad whimpered, pointing to his mate who had run away, and replied: “It wasn’t me, it was him.”

“No, it wasn’t you but you thought it was funny didn’t you?” shouted my Mum before adding: “If you hadn’t come from behind me I’d have punched you both in the face.”

Only then did she loosen her grip and push him away in disgust.

I’m well aware that this kind of behaviour isn’t typical of young people, the vast majority of whom wouldn’t dream of frightening old people for the fun of it.

But I have two Christmas wishes: that the pair responsible grow up to realise that they’re not clever or funny; and that my Mum realises how proud I am of her.

IN Chris Lloyd’s Echo Memories pull-out last week, the “Page In History” featured the Northern Despatch of December 14 1936.

Neil McKay, of Lanchester, kindly wrote to bring my attention to an intriguing paragraph which reported that a telephone call, lasting 23 minutes, had been made from the Austrian castle where the Duke of Windsor was staying, to Cannes, in the south of France, where Mrs Simpson was staying.

Could it be that phone hacking is not such a modern phenomenon?

THE curse of the juxtaposition struck as Saturday’s paper was being put together.

The page one story was the arrest of Sunderland stars Lee Cattermole and Nicklas Bendtner after cars were damaged in Newcastle.

The front page advertisement, directly underneath, was: “Add some sparkle with Sunderland AFC this Christmas.”

Thankfully, it was spotted and, to save any embarrassment, transferred to Page 4.

MEANWHILE, the equally-dreaded curse of the literal struck at Whitley Bay Playhouse when the programme for Aladdin missed a vital ‘T’ from Widow Twankey.

“It’s behind you,” is the traditional pantomime cry when something goes missing.

In this case, alphabetically at least, perhaps it should have been “It’s in front of U”.


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