Here is a guy I saw today happily fishing by the Tsuboi river. Notice that his scooter is on the ridge. As i walked past I saw that he had left his keys in it. Here in Japan there is a 99% chance that it will be fine. Even if he fishes there all day no one will steal his scooter. But in many parts of the UK i would only give his chances as 50/50.
My first Vespa Scooter was stolen, from right outside my house. And this was in a quiet street in Morningside ( the so called ‘posh’ safe area of Edinburgh). I just went out the house one morning, and it was gone. Nicked! Oh, the heart break...I wonder where it is now.
My 2nd Vespa was stolen in broad day light outside my friend’s flat in the Kilburn area of London by two teenage black lads (and before anyone thinks I’m therefore saying all young black Londoners are criminals, or any such racist bollocks - I’m not! It just so happens that, on this occasion, they were young black guys). The upstairs neighbour saw them do it and phoned down to say so. But, rather stupidly, my friend’s girlfriend forgot i was in the flat (we were in another room, working on editing a documentary), and said ‘Oh, we dont have a scooter’. I can imagine the lads nicked it for fun, because that scooter was from 1959, a real vintage one, and the two young guys probably thought to themselves: ‘What the hell is this old thing?…. Let’s nick it… Yeah!’
And my third Scooter was - amazingly enough - NOT stolen! I lived in the Shepherd’s Bush area of London then, and though it did not get stolen, a gang of teenage thugs from the infamously rough council estates behind the old BBC area took a worrying interest in that scooter. It was from 1969 and therefore also looked like a weird old relic to them.
One day I shouted at them to get off it, and unlike Japanese teenagers who meekly cower away saying sorry, these thugs shouted right back at me:
‘Get yer hair cut, yer fackin hippie!’
It was a mixed race gang of poor white kids and poor black kids (at least they were equal opportunity hooligans!) . So, i followed them back to their council estate to see where they lived (and found myself in the exact place shown on Pete Townsend’s ‘White city’ album cover - they were on the third floor of the building to the right).
‘Right - I know where live now. Touch my scooter again and i’ll get the police round here.’
To which they replied, with not a moment’s hesitation:
‘Call them then, you Scots cunt - we don’t give a fuck!’
And meanwhile, in safe Japan, the man goes on quietly fishing…