AS I’ve mentioned before, people often ask me about things in the news.
Lately a lot of people have been asking about 'zombie' knives, which have been illegal to make or sell since last Thursday.
So many people have been asking about them that I’ve decided to put together a little list of questions and answers.
Q: What are 'zombie' knives?
A: Zombie knives come in various shapes and sizes. Some are as small as pocket knives and others are as large as machetes and even swords. Sometimes they come in unusual shapes or have serrated edges. What they all have in common is that they are painted in garish colours – often fluorescent green – and have words such as ‘Zombie Killer’ stencilled on them.
Q: Why have they been banned?
A: Because they’ve been used in some violent crimes by young people, and politicians say banning them will make us all safer.
Q: So now they’ve been banned, young people won’t be able to get their hands on dangerous bladed objects anymore?
A: Now they’ve been banned, anybody aged over 18, or who knows an irresponsible person aged over 18, will still be able to get their hands on craft knives, pocket knives, lock knives, hunting knives, steak knives, filleting knives, boning knives, carving knives, gutting knives, skinning knives, Bowie knives, outdoor knives with serrated edges for sawing firewood, bayonets, machetes, hand-crafted katanas, broadswords, shortswords, daggers, scythes, bill hooks, hand axes, hatchets, ice axes, lumberjacks’ axes, warhammers, carpenters’ hammers, roofers’ hammers, slaters’ hammers and plenty of other potential weapons.
Most of these objects are intended for legitimate uses, so are generally made of far stronger metal than zombie knives, which are largely novelty items intended for horror memorabilia collectors to display alongside their Walking Dead box sets, Resident Evil figurines and so on.
Q: But surely zombie knives are more dangerous?
A: Hold your sharpest, largest carving knife. Do you feel the urge to stab or slash anybody with it, or does the thought of doing so revolt you? Now go to your nearest craft shop and purchase a small tin of fluorescent green paint and a brush. On returning home, paint the blade of your knife and, if you’re feeling artistic, stencil on the words 'Zombie Killer' and maybe a big skull. Hold the knifeagain. Do you feel the urge to stab or slash anybody with it, or does the thought of doing so still revolt you?
Q: So if the real issue is the person holding the knife, what do you suggest we do?
A: For immediate damage limitation, the law could be changed so that anybody found carrying anything more fearsome than a small pocket knife, and who couldn’t convince a jury they had a good reason, would end up in a cell for at least five years the first time and 10 the second. Anybody using such a weapon to harm another person could be dealt with much more severely. Only recently, a little thug who stabbed a man almost to death in Swindon, and who was said to be without remorse and a lover of violence, was given what amounted to barely more than a couple of years inside.
In the longer term, we might attempt to address the social and other problems which give certain people the idea that carrying knives is a good thing.
Q: So why don’t we do those things?
A: Because putting new laws through the system and issuing guidelines to the judiciary is hard work. Addressing deep-seated societal problems is even harder work. Photographing police officers holding painted knives and then banning those knives, however, is easy.
Q: But will the ban make me or my loved ones any less likely to be filleted by a criminal?
A: Not in the slightest.
Q: Then why bother banning zombie knives in the first place?
A: Because we’re meant to look at the pictures, think, “Ooooh, scary,” and feel safer, even though we’re not.
Q: So the people in charge think we’re idiots, then?
A: That’s about the size of it.
Q: Could there be any other reason why politicians don’t like zombie knives?
A: Well, zombie knives are supposed to be for warding off mindless, pitiless monsters whose only instinct is to feed on us, but that might be a coincidence.
Bug appears in swimming pool
LAST week users of the pool at the Oasis were disappointed to find it shut.
GLL, the private sector operators to whom the running of the leisure centre was handed some time ago by the council, said the summer holiday season closure was due to essential maintenance.
The council itself filled in a bit more detail and revealed that cryptosporidium, a nasty microscopic parasite which causes diarrhoea and can survive in chlorinated water, had been discovered.
They added: “It’s important to note that not all of the reported cases in Swindon have recently been swimming.”
I’d be interested to learn exactly how many had been, though, not to mention where and when.
- THANKS to an assortment of cuts, some 20 of 54 subsidised bus services are in line to be removed or pruned.
Subsidised bus services, of course, are very often the only form of transport their users have access to.
It would be nice if any elected person agreeing to the cuts could be deprived of access to all forms of private transport and obliged to use the services they’re crippling, but that will never happen.
We can still laugh at them the next time they say anything self-congratulatory about public transport, the environment or services for vulnerable people, though.