I live in a fairly quiet area of the Waterside - the exact location remaining a secret for reasons which will become obvious.
It’s not a particularly affluent area - mostly people living in first time buyer type accommodation, or renting from private landlords. It’s a place where the vast majority of my neighbours are ordinary, hard working, salt of the earth type people.
What we all have in common is our basic desire to provide for our families and to live our lives in relative peace and quiet (as much as possible with young children to look after).
We’ve lived in our wee house for almost nine years - and it is home. It’s the first home we bought after renting for a few years and it is where we brought our two children home from the hospital to.
The inside of our home is filled with, for the most part, happy memories and we have felt secure in our house for the time we have been there.
Of course occasionally we had a bit of bother. We live in a street which seems to lead directly from the pub to another housing estate or two so occasionally we had drunken eejits way-heying and roaring as they staggered home in the wee small hours.
Occasionally these drunken eejits kicked the wing mirrors off our cars (for the craic, it seems) and left us and our neighbours with the bill for their replacement.
It was a pain in the rear. And one we all could have done without because who has spare money these days? Who needs to have to take time out to drop their car to the garage or fork out for yet another pane of glass or wing mirror casing?
In recent months this has escalated further. A few weeks ago, some drunken eejit (and by now you might realise that by using ‘drunken eejit’ I am simply being polite as this a family newspaper) decided to jump on top of our cars in the middle of the night - laughing and cheering as they went.
The wing mirror vandalism has increased. The number of occasions on which we are woken to the noise of people singing, shouting, roaring and swearing as they stagger home from the pub has multiplied significantly.
On Sunday night some ‘drunken eejit’ even thought it would be ‘the craic’ to kick in every front door in the street while making their way home.
So there was I, hubby having gone out for an hour or two, home alone with two young children when my front door was kicked in and some yob decided it would be okay to roar and shout into the hall and scare the living daylights out of me. Thankfully the baby didn’t stir and the seven-year-old wasn’t quite aware of what happened.
But me? I spent the rest of the night sitting bolt awake wondering if the ‘drunken eejit’ would come back and I wondered when has it become acceptable for anyone to think kicking someone’s front door in ‘fer a bitta craic’ is okay?
Then again we live in an age and a day when ‘recreational rioting’ is recognised as a past-time for children as young as 11 or 12 on our streets.
We live in an age where getting full out of your head, and carrying your blue bag full of cheap drink down to watch the riots is considered fair game. Where it is okay to steal your (hard working, just-about-scraping-by) neighbour’s car and burn it out to make some sort of ‘political statement’. To leave your litter, and your broken bottles and your fag ends on the ground for someone else to clean up. To roar and shout in front of children not caring what you sound like or whether or not you scare them.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook this week how she missed the bonfires from when she was a child. When it was, she said, all good innocent fun - a street party where the children ran about and got a clip around the ear from their mammy or daddy if they stepped out of line. There would be singing around the bonfire, and a real, genuine ‘bitta craic’.
I remember those days - the heat of the bonfire, the competition between the streets, the sense of community. I don’t remember seeing a sea of blue bags or anyone being full out of their heads and I remember everyone pitching in to clean up.
I don’t remember ever worrying if a fight would break out, or if people would get so drunk they would do themselves or others an injury.
Normally I’m one of the first people in this city to defend it - proud to be ‘a Derry wan’ through and through but these days, I wonder what is happening to the city around us.
Have people just forgotten how to behave? Or have they never been taught? Are the basics of manners and decency beneath us? Do we not have to try? Do we not care about the basics of respecting our neighbours and their property.
Have we really turned into a city of ‘drunken eejits’ who seem to only care about ourselves and what kicks we can get?
If that’s the case then maybe it’s time people grew up, took a long hard look at themselves and those around them and decided enough was enough.