I had a bairns' weekend this week, so I finally got around to getting the much promised Swiss Army Knife for my son. The one I'd told him I'd get him when he left the cubs and joined the scouts. We went into Aberdeen to find one.
As usual, I parked in Union Square, because with a van like mine it's the easiest and most convenient place to park in the city centre.
I'd done a wee search and found that Millets sold these knives, so it was there we headed (after the customary glance through the Apple Store... Mmmm, those new iMacs are beautiful...).
Coming out of the front doors of the mall, it barely registered that there weren't quite as many of the Emo-Kids and skaters hanging around, smoking out there.
"Ah Dad, that sound!" said Arran, my ten-year-old, as we negotiated our way over to the pedestrian crossing at the other side of the square. "Really annoying!"
"Eh?" I said, not really taking in properly what he told me. We were at the lights by this time, so I had other things on my mind. "Right, that's green... Cross now..."
We went and bought his knife, had our lunch at Subway (at their insistence), then headed back to Union Square and the van.
We crossed the same part as we had done earlier.
"Ah, there it is again!" said Arran, putting his hands up to his ears. This time I took more notice and wondered what he was hearing.
"I can't hear anything," I said.
"You're probably too deaf," Arran replied.
I thought about this for a second, then it all became apparent, what with the lack of Emos around the place.
They'd installed one of those "teenage scarers" I'd heard about. Something along these lines.
Once I realised, I did register what I thought was an increase in the volume of my tinnitus. In fact, once we'd left the place I noticed it was ringing more than usual.
Just not sure what to think about this. Teenagers always like to hang around in packs, they did so in the past, they will do in the future. I remember doing it myself. My friends and I were proud of an item in the local paper one week - "Beer youth scaring OAPs claim" - as I remember it. We hung around the square at the centre of our town, drinking lager and playing cassettes on an old, overdriven beat-box one of us had.
Thing is, if the OAPs had bothered to come over and talk to us (not shout at us), we would have been polite and courteous. We were trying to find our identity and to be honest, it felt like we were getting our alienated, angst-ridden feelings across to the general public easier as a gang. It all seems a bit daft, in hindsight.
It all seems a bit draconian to me. I wonder where the kids went?