I’d even carry a handbag to find low-lifes who prey on the elderly

PUBLISHED: 14:19 24 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:30 24 November 2018

A woman who had her bag stolen in Anglia Square chased her attacker. Picture: ANTONY KELLY.

A woman who had her bag stolen in Anglia Square chased her attacker. Picture: ANTONY KELLY.

Archant Norfolk 2018

I’m thinking of carrying a handbag when out in Norwich city centre.

It’s not because I have much to carry – just a cashcard and a bit of loose change.

And it’s not because I am moving towards a more metro-sexual look: I’m not convinced that a shiny black leather handbag with gold trim would match my Viking beard.

It’s the bait that I hope will catch me a bit of low-life.

You’ll have noticed the recent spate of muggings of elderly and/or disabled people in Norwich.

Bullies are rightly labelled cowards, so how on Earth do we describe the bottom-feeding, mouth-breathing moral vacuums who snatch handbags from some of the city’s most vulnerable residents? Oh, I just did describe them.

Actually, there are some pithier words that I’d produce from Anglo-Saxon dictionary corner, but not here.

For there are few things that bring me more to the brink of violence than people picking on, mugging, robbing or even disrespecting older people.

While scumbags look at the elderly and see weakness and opportunity, I see wisdom, experience and stories to be shared.

Today, 23 years after her death, I still miss my Grandma Ethel, who had so many tales to tell, so much wisdom to impart, and so many idiosyncrasies. And my Nanny Win, Norwich to the core, who once chased a flasher down the road, waving her umbrella above her head. She could be fearsome, so he was lucky that he didn’t get caught.

They, like so many older people then and now, were worth listening to, caring for and respecting.

The bleeding hearties will probably feel drawn to put an arm around the shoulder and a jaunty cravat around the neck of these poor muggers, who were no doubt driven to nick an elderly lady’s pension and hairbrush by desperation, addiction or something in a previous life.

I am actually less of a callous old curmudgeon than I might seem, but there is no excuse for this sort of behaviour. Everybody has the ability to make a choice.

Hence I’m thinking of sporting a fetching Maggie-style handbag to catch me a mouth breather. Perhaps I should go for an Iron Lady wig as well, to add cheese to the rat trap.

Let some grasping toe-rag clutch at my clutch-bag and see what happens.

Bearing in mind that I’m getting on a bit and my reactions are slowing, not to mention that I have a broken scaphoid (a large carpal bone articulating with the radius below the thumb, in case you care), I’d probably lose the handbag and my diminishing dignity to some fleet-footed felon.

On the other hand, I might cling on, and drag him or her to a nearby care home for the elderly residents to dish out some instant justice.

Yes, I know vigilante justice is not to be encouraged, but it would be immensely satisfying.

More seriously (because I don’t really intend to become Draggie Thatcher and wreak vengeance on the street detritus – just in case police are preparing charges), we seem to be approaching a point where Norwich goes from feeling generally safe to having an undercurrent of menace.

Muggings, stabbings, aggressive begging, fights, drunkenness – they are all happening.

I still feel safe, because I’m 6ft 1in and angry-looking. But I know many people who feel unsafe when walking in Norwich.

It’s a sad fact, and I am sure the police are aware of it. However, when elderly people are being terrorised in broad daylight and people stabbed when they answer their door, Norwich has a big problem.

Something must be done – now.

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