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Safety in cities...

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  • Safety in cities...

    I've been reading a guide book to Paris, and every other entry seems to contain a warning to be careful of pickpockets and avoid certain areas at night. Obviously this scares the bejeezus out of a paranoid type like myself, but then I wonder if a guide book to my home town wouldn't say much the same thing about certain areas around here. Is it just the fact that it's written down in black and white that makes it scary?

    I used to feel totally at ease around Nottingham, but that has become something of a shooting gallery these days.

    The main chap from the band Portishead made an interesting point in an interview about small towns being more dangerous because people are more likely to know who you are, and know what you're up to... whereas in a city you can be more anonymous.

    Are cities really more "dangerous" for strangers/tourists than their home towns?
    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

  • #2
    Well, look what happened to that poor woman in Surrey - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/s...es/4472935.stm - supposed to be 'the safest part of the country'. But then it pays to be aware of the dodgy parts of town I guess. My partner was mugged on Tooting Common after being persuaded to walk through it at night by a foolhardy acquaintance - however, she'd lived in Mexico City a couple of years before and had wandered around after dark on her own with no problems. I supppose that sensible people have an 'instinct' about these things. Personally, I avoid walking too near the clubs at Southsea at chucking out time...
    \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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    • #3
      Paris is cool at night for the most part--you shouldn't put too much store in what they put in those guide books--they're similar to government adviseries--scare the living daylights out of you if you believe in them. If you're at a hotel, get to know the front desk guy or barkeep--they'll usually steer you in the right direction.

      I just got back from a month long journey (over Xmas) to South America and it was totally fine. If I'd believed some of the stuff in the guide books I'd never have gone and missed out on a great experience!! That having been said, use your common sense and try not to look too much like a tourist. I always try to blend in a little. Also maintain alert and confident body language--always look as if you know exactly what you're doing and where you are going even if you don't.

      good luck with your travels and I hope you have lots of fun!! :)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mikey_C
        Well, look what happened to that poor woman in Surrey, supposed to be 'the safest part of the country'.
        I know... that's just a hideous scene. Of course, in theory, people are more likely to be attacked by people they know than random strangers, but news stories like that always set my mind whirring.

        Originally posted by Marc
        That having been said, use your common sense and try not to look too much like a tourist. I always try to blend in a little.
        In the guide book, it implied that anyone who walked the streets of Paris in jeans and a T-shirt would be immediately and repeatedly mugged. The idea of having to wear a proper shirt just to go on holiday, when I've never had to for work, seems a little peculiar... does the city have a very strict dress code?

        Originally posted by Marc
        Also maintain alert and confident body language--always look as if you know exactly what you're doing and where you are going even if you don't.
        If I could do any of those things, I'd probably have had a much easier life in general. ;)

        Originally posted by Marc
        good luck with your travels and I hope you have lots of fun!! :)
        Thanks! I'm not going anywhere just yet, but I'm trying to deal with my silly fears as soon as possible.

        Where I use to live in Derby, I occasionally had to walk home at night through an area where prostitution was fairly evident, but again it seems scarier when written down in a book than it does while you're walking past it.

        I've manged to survive this long I suppose, but I'm not confident in my ability to look confident...
        "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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        • #5
          From my perspective--and there are many others--Paris has a do-what-the-hell-you-like code, so long as it has your personal style stamped over it. I mean, the usual dress code in some of the more upscale clubs applies--I'd go with a dark suit, light grey or blue shirt, no tie, Italian shoes. That'll do yer in most of the clubs. during the day, jeans and a teeshirt are fine.

          As far as looking confident goes--have you ever considered taking up a martial art? You'll get super fit, learn a trick or two about self-defense and end up looking very confident. Just a friendly suggestion...In any event, from what I know of you from reading your postings, you seem like a pretty cool guy to me. I'm sure Paris will love you. And if you are single--oo la, la, them French girls sure are sexy...8) :)

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          • #6
            i'm with TheAdlerian on this, i've avoided many fights through this type of subterfuge, it can be dangerous though.. take it too far and you can unwittingly make a real 'psycho pal' and they're damn hard to get rid of.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TheAdlerian
              A great defense against bad guys is to be nice to them.
              I love this. It's great for street demonstrations, when someone takes exception to what you're saying and feels the need to make abusive gestures. Just wave and give the thumbs up like you've misunderstood and think they support you. Just watch the results! :lol:
              \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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              • #8
                My great uncle (a steeplejack and costermonger, though not simultaneously) used to walk around the market with two ferrets running around inside the lining of his large coat. He didn't have much trouble with pickpockets.
                I like the wrong-footing, be-nice-to-arseholes approach. Probably better than my usual ploy of flinging car jacks, crowbars and abuse related to their regional accent or poor posture. :lol:

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                • #9
                  It's peculiar to me that quite regularly on the TV News you get report of some horrific multiple killing in some little village or town here and a local person comes on and says that it's such a quiet place and that sort of thing you usually only hear about 'going on' in the city, yadda yadda. Is that the same little hamlet that had the bloody pogroms, the Civil War, the witch hunts, yadda yadda? I dunno...... I remember my mum having a wonderful holiday in a beautiful picture postcard valley full of smiling happy people. She had picnics in wooded areas which were soon to be mass burial genocidal sites... that's Croatia for you.

                  I think the best attitude for safety's sake to take on the streets (anywhere) is a form of vigilant mild pananoia as regards people you meet. I never walk close to the shop fronts in town after dark. The floorboards creak and out come the freaks as they say.

                  On the cigarette offering thing - I remember a story about Humphrey Bogart being in a restaurant bar with his wife Lauren Bacall. A drunk serviceman came up to Bogey and was telling him how he was such a short guy and not so tough looking..... etc. Bogart started shaking and offered the guy a cigarette. The guy took it, laughing and calling him names. Just as he opened his mouth to put the cigarette in Bogart smacked him a good right hook across the chin, disclocating the guy's jaw. Nice, eh?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RobotArchie
                    It's peculiar to me that quite regularly on the TV News you get report of some horrific multiple killing in some little village or town here and a local person comes on and says that it's such a quiet place and that sort of thing you usually only hear about 'going on' in the city, yadda yadda.
                    I also find it a little strange when my parents talk about how much safer it was when they were growing up... in the 30s/40s... aside, of course, from the World War that happened to be raging, of course. Perhaps there were fewer street crimes, but I'm guessing there were also a lot fewer people around to commit them... fewer streets too, sadly.

                    Originally posted by RobotArchie
                    I think the best attitude for safety's sake to take on the streets (anywhere) is a form of vigilant mild pananoia as regards people you meet.
                    That's pretty much my natural state anyway. Hurrah!

                    Originally posted by RobotArchie
                    On the cigarette offering thing - I remember a story about Humphrey Bogart being in a restaurant bar with his wife Lauren Bacall.
                    :D Nice anecdote there!

                    Of course those of us who've seen Trainspotting know never to mess with "short" guys... aside from anything else, their fists are closer to groin height. 8O

                    "You'll take a slap and like it."
                    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
                      I also find it a little strange when my parents talk about how much safer it was when they were growing up... in the 30s/40s... aside, of course, from the World War that happened to be raging, of course. Perhaps there were fewer street crimes, but I'm guessing there were also a lot fewer people around to commit them... fewer streets too, sadly.
                      I think there's a programme coming up on Channel 4 soon about crime during the wartime blackout. It's got that sad old hood "Mad" Frankie Frazer in it. Apparently it was their "Golden Age" Prostitution, extortion & protection rackets galore plus the black market. So much for the good old days. Someone once said that you could leave your doors open & nothing would get stolen, because nobody had anything to steal!
                      Arioch, aid me! Blood and souls for Arioch!

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                      • #12
                        Automatic weapons and huge dogs are the answer. My friends in Battersea were burgled once...the poor felon was unaware they owned a Bernese Mountain Dog, whose favoured method of attack is crushing. When they returned home, they first had to call an ambulance, then the police. five crushed ribs and a pneumothorax, and the dog was still sitting on him. Aah! I fully support violence in defence of the home, or in response to offered aggression. I quite like the idea, come to think of it >twitch<.
                        It always makes me smile when folk talk about 'how it never used to be like this'...no, it was so much better: half the entire World was in the middle of an inferno, or we were burning innocent old ladies, or stopping black folk going into shops, or getting Typhoid Fever.

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                        • #13
                          All this tells me ONE thing:
                          Dee, you've got to get moving and leave Dorset SOON!!! Otherwise you spent too much time wondering about these things too long. There are people in the world that worry so much that they have an invisible sign post around their necks saying "VICTIM", and they're bound to get it. Go brave it! Paris is not Medellin, Colombia. Perhaps only carry a few Euros with you in your pocket and one of your cartoons folded up and if somebody wants anything then offer the 5 Euros and show them what you do. They'll probably invite you or make you an ad honorem member of the gang.
                          In short just don't worry so much!
                          Allez, mon ami!
                          Google ergo sum

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
                            I also find it a little strange when my parents talk about how much safer it was when they were growing up...
                            You know this wasn't the full story. Listening to Mum's tales of growing up in pre-war Portsmouth, there were huge slums which were actual no-go areas. And the fact that people could go out without locking the door is probably a reflection of how few possessions people had - you wouldn't want to risk getting nicked for the sake of a coal scuttle and an aspidistra!
                            \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Concerning Dee's original post about Paris, I think fears of danger there are (for the most part) greatly overstated. I feel much safer in Paris than in most places in the U.S.

                              There are undoubtedly a few areas where the level of crime is higher, and being aware of them is sensible, but we aren't talking New York City, here.

                              As for pickpockets, yes, there are signs up all over the place near terminals and Metro and RER stations to beware of them. I've never personally seen an incident, nor do I know anyone who claims to have been victimized in this way. That's not to say it can't happen, but if you exercise intelligent precautions, it shouldn't be anything you need to worry about.

                              I haven't been in Paris in about 7 years, so things may have changed, but I'm skeptical.

                              LSN

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