53 – Knives – KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK (1986)

When writing a blog on your life story it is the usual to share form your past. Some of the horror – yes; shame – absolutely.

However the goal is to elicit sympathy, to make the readers want to read more and keep them onside.

Now, unless you are a well known personality, a media massive figure, then you do not want to go too far.

Sometimes though, things are just so topical, and you have experience in them, that you have to share the things that MAY make people dislike you.

Antisocial behaviour – especially of the type that I am going to cover is no laughing matter. It is not to be taken lightly and should not glamourise or glorify it. In Glasgow it has taken decades of incredible work to lose the “No mean city” stereotype of gangs, knives and violent street behaviour.

However, sometimes an episode can shed light on these issues and help those that have never been involved maybe get a little bit more insight.

The following – for me- is one of those episodes.

On the streets of Easterhouse, when I ran with the gang (Easterhouse Young Aggro) I carried knives. This is an easily verifiable fact as my second an third criminal charges were for carrying a concealed weapon. Both times the weapons I was charged with carrying were steak knives. Not the smaller ones dished out in a restaurant, but larger carving knives.

I was sixteen years old. The only reason I can give is that is what we did. Not everyone in the gang jumped about ‘carrying’ but a few of us did. Not because of defensive reasons or anything like that, but just because that is what we did.

I cannot even remember how I was caught the first time. It was probably one of the random stop and searches that the Police carried out on us in those days. The second though, that stands out for many reasons.

A lot of the times it would have been a smaller lock back knife I would have carried. Some of my friends and I used to take great delight in carrying butterfly knives, so called because of their double handles that closed over the blade. You could show off your handling of these.

Picture the scene, its a late in the year evening (I know this because it was dark). A few of us were hanging about at 2 Duntarvie Quad, a grey tenement block next to where I lived. As well as being a part of Easterhouse Young Aggro, we also identified as Young Quad Team, as that is where we hung about. EYA and YQT were territorially marked in almost every close and street in our area.

Anyway, we were all hanging about the front entrance of the six flat tenement block – two on each floor – three storeys high. The Docherty’s lived on the bottom left, and beyond that I cannot quite remember.

Next thing two beat cops appeared from nowhere. I panicked as I knew I had the knife on me. I was the only one that night. I ran to the back of the close and, unusually, the back door was locked. Running back to the front looking for somewhere to hide the knife, I panicked and placed it on top of the relatively high fuse box.

The two policeman walked in and started firing questions at us, “Whit ye up tae?” The first one said.

“Nowt!” says F. “Staunin here cos wur bored.”

“Really?” Says number 2. “Then whit did he run away fir then?” Obviosuly pointing straight at me.

“Ah couldnae be annoyed.” I said. “Ma da would have a fit if ah goat in any maer trouble.” (Prophetic statement alert.)

They made us all stand with our hands out, they had already called for a car. Searching us one by one and then, searching the close. If I hadn’t run that night I would probably have got away with it.

But run I did, and they knew enough to know that we only tried to run if we had something to hide. They searched all the more intently. One of the younger guys looked anxiously at fuse box.

“Yah numpty” I screamed inside my head. “Yah 4444444 numpty” as obviously as soon as he looked up, the two policemen looked up.

“Ah wonder who this belangs tae?” says number 1 while reaching up and pulling down my wooden handled steak knife. All 12 inches of it, with the blade being about 8. Turning around and looking straight at me.

“Right own up or yir aw getting the jail.”

“Nane ae us hid that.” says F.

“Well yir aw coming tae the station then.”

“it’s mine. Ah pit it thair.”

“Why you cairien this aboot wi ye then?”

“Ah need it tae defend masel.” I replied. (As previously stated I did not need it. There was no one after me. We were in the middle of our area, but it was the stock answer),

“The rest aw yis, beat it.”

And they did. Whilst giving me stupid looks for being stupid enough to get caught with a knife. I wasn’t the only one that usually carried one out of that group – but I was the only one that night.

“That’s Paddy’s boy.” says number 2. Even some of the Police called my dad by his nickname. “Ah know whit tae dae wi him.”

They put the handcuffs on me, hands behind my back style. Made me walk down the path, turn to the left, 30 yards turn left again, up the close, two flights of steps, with our door being right at the top of the stairs of 4 Duntarvie Quad.

The unmistakable police chap of the door – KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK (knuckles banging in rapid succession three times normally followed by a quick look through th eletterbox).

What seemed like eternity, but in reality about twenty seconds later, the door was answered by my incensed mum.

Eyes up to them, then at me then back up to them. Not a word spoken but a thousand communicated!

“Is MR Patterson in?” says number 1.

“John, somebody at the door.”

“Who is it?”

“Ye better come oot.”

“ah fur 4444 sake,” Was all I could hear.

It is impossible to write how I was feeling. I am sure you understand that this was NOT normal Police procedure.


For me this was the worst possible thing they could have done. If it was possible to tie all your insides up into a tight ball and at the same time every nerve be stretched to snapping point – that’s where I am.

My dad came to the door, his face turning purple when he saw 5’7″ of me between two very tall (over 6′ police officers, it was the 80’s).

“Whit the 4444 dae yous want?” (no fear nor respect in a voice shaped by decades of police mistrust) “Whits he done noo?”

Number 1, now smirking as he unfolds his arm from behind his back and revealed the steak knife he had been concealing.

The grin on his face.

The growl on Paddy’s.

“yah stupid we 88888888. Whit ye daein wae that?”

Way to go dad. Vote of confidence. Guilt assumed. (Quiet there, I know I am guilty he didn’t – yet).

“He’s been cautioned and will have tae come tae the station the morra to be formally charged, but can we leave him wae you this evening?”

“Get in ya eejit.” as he dragged me in the door and walloped me on the back of my head.

This was a triple blow. Not only had I been carrying a knife, something my dad, quite hypocritically thought I shouldn’t be, I had got caught – and the worst of all – I had brought the Police to the door.

Of all three that as probably the worst. The unpardonable sin was bringing the police to the door. Everything else could be skelped out of you. But never ever ever bring the police to the door. Even the quietest of families in Easterhouse did everything to uphold this code.

I had and I knew I was in trouble.

The justice side of the rouble was eventually a £150 fine and 18 months probation. (I saw my probation officer at the beginning and the end, that was it).

My home punishment was worse. Much worse than even my twisted stomach and stretched out nerves could have imagined in even the darkest corners of my disturbed imagination.

I was sent to my room!!!

My dad, not even looking at me told me to go to my room.

He was ashamed of me.

Expecting a tirade – I got silence.

Expecting a slap – I got a snub.

If you knew Paddy Patterson then you knew that was worse. Much worse.

Unfortunately for me I was too stupid to learn.

My YTS job in Alex Munro butchers meant I had access to some really bad knives.

I had a couple of other serious incidents with knives, of which I am not sure even now I am ready to talk about.

Needless to say though, if you carry a knife you are 100% more likely to use it than if you didn’t.

This POST is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.

Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.

I have now released an early edition of my story, Completing the Tenner

I have also published two poem books: Simply Jesus  and Five Weeks in May

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Or you can buy directly from me. Email me directly to arrange this.

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