If you’ve licked my left thigh (a mercifully tiny sample of people – so just a rubbish device), you’ll know there’s a white stab wound in it. I was very, very young; high spirits and kind of mucking about (we both had flick-knives). I had a shoulder wound too; it was very nippy and I failed to see or feel how much I was bleeding from a wound in my leg. Someone else pointed the leg thing out. I remember the speed with which the patch of blood on my jeans grew, in a few seconds, and then just soaked me. You bleed all over the floor; it’s thick, viscous, very slippery. Cue Keystone Cops scene, everyone running in, doing pratfalls in your own blood. Death feels painlessly imminent, whether it’s coming or not. You’re calm. An unknown man, a teacher, quite possibly saved my life.
Today’s news in Scotland is about two things. Minimising short jail sentences (apparently a UK Tory thing but some Tories arguing against it on BBC Newsnicht) and not changing law on stabbing (SNP Scottish government thing). ‘The News’ seems to have conflated the two things. But that’s not how I feel about them.
A lot of people who get jailed for a very short term are women (we know what the sad issues are); many of the men are pathetic folk (there has to be another way). With knives, it’s a different group. Knife amnesties are cheap PR (kitchen knives are quite sharp) and it seems to me that a person who is prepared to stab is much like an arsenist (I prefer that spelling). They don’t necessarily mean to kill but they’ve reached such a high level of risk for everyone else that they’ve entered a different place. Scotland, thank God, isn’t big on guns. But we are quite big on knives. Knives ruin so many lives, and that includes the sorry folk who thought they’d probably just wound.
Just a thought, this, and I’ve no special knowledge. We really should think twice about short sentences of all kinds, but also, separately, about how casually we (me included) sometimes take slashing and stabbing.