Dave Snowden

Keeping a watchful eye

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I left Calgary at the start of developing snow storm in another delayed flight; not by the storm but mechanical issues.  At Heathrow that weather would have caused a shut down, here it was business as usual.   I made the coach home with two minutes to spare and managed a three hour turn around of unpacking and packing to arrive at the station to find that flooding in the west country had cancelled all trains.  My wife generously drove me further towards London and I finally made the SenseMaker® session for the final half hour.   After that I messed up the DLR station and ended up walking for an hour through dockland, avoiding hoodies until I finally arrived at my hotel.

That final walk moved me into a cantakerous when I was your age mood about the lack of exposure to threat as people grow up.  When I was young we walked three miles to school and back every day and played on the streets.  One of the key survival skills you learnt was how to make yourself inconspicuous in a street environment.  That training has probably saved me from a mugging in Los Angeles, New York, London, Caracas and a few other locations over the years (those three are the memorable ones).   

Walking with my son in Los Angeles the best part of a decade ago (when he was half my height as opposed to now being taller and all together more threatening) we went to the Tar Pits for our last day of a father-son three week road trip around California.  I was no paying attention and we walked into, shall we say a less  salubrious area.  I went onto automatic pilot, walking confidently etc. but also descretely.  Huw wanted to look at maps, ask directions, stop and work out where we were.  All of that (as I explained later) would have marked us out as victims.

That ability to manage situations has to be learnt over time, through experience (and in the case of the bullies the odd blooded nose and stolen money).  But if we don't learn it young enough then the danger is greater.  I worry sometimes that my generation has made things far too safe for our children.