Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Turtle doves

Doves symbolise peace, I believe.

I'm going to try and tell it as I saw it.

I was returning from Christmas shopping, and had just got off the 73 bus at Kings Cross, planning to walk to the stop in York Way and catch a further bus home. It had been a successful shopping trip, taking in 3 replays (and a match) on Lord of The Rings pinball, and a surprise result at Heal's, which appears to have gone downhill quicker than Tony Hawks with an afterburner, so I was in a good mood.

As I rounded the corner past WH Smith, I could see a little flurry of activity ahead of me, and could hear raised voices. I continued to walk, though a little more cautiously, and caught sight of a tall slim Arab looking man in a brown trench coat, seemingly throwing punches at a white police officer. Things happen quickly in these situations, and I stopped in my tracks to see the Arab man attempt to break away from the policeman. He ran only one or two steps, however, and then turned to confront the copper again. I could now see that this was a BT policeman, part of the institution once described by an ex-boss of mine as for nothing more than glorified security guards, and could also clearly see that he was - to put it mildly - losing control of the situation. There was a taxi waiting for the Arab man, a pile of luggage next to it, and two women - one young and one middle aged - who were starting to panic, standing to one side. A further hi-viz person, who was black, and whose jacket was marked with 'Events Planning' moved towards the situation, seemingly seeking to play the role of mediator.

The BT policeman had by this time reverted to a feral state. He crouched, Bruce Lee style, and drew some kind of telescopic baton from his belt, holding it next to his ear and screaming at the Arab man to get on the floor. NOW! The mediator was doing quite a good job of trying to calm the situation down, and was asking the Arab man what had happened.

"He was swearing at me!" the man was saying repeatedly, "In front of my wife!"

All the while, the policeman was screaming at him to get on the floor, and the Events guy was trying to keep a lid on things. The man's wife (I deduced this because I could hear her saying: "Hamed!") and (I guess) his daughter, were becoming increasingly freaked out by the events unfolding before them.

I could tell from the tone of the copper's voice and his agitated state that things were going to get ugly, and I must admit that my first thought was not to get involved in any trouble - not so close to Christmas. I thought of the effect of all this on the Arab man, wondering whether he had just arrived in London, or was just about to leave. No good would come of it all, I could tell. So I gingerly walked past the scene and headed towards my bus stop with something of a heavy heart. Once there, I was too far away to see further detail of what was happening, but I could hear the pitch of the shouting increase, and then heard the inevitable wail of sirens. A BT police car pulled up within 5 minutes, and another a minute after that one, which seemed to me overkill. It was also interesting that no real police seemed interested in getting involved.

Overall, the incident, or the little I saw of it, was handled incredibly badly by the authority figure, though I obviously don't know what had happened to kick it off. I assume, and this is probably a reasonable assumption, that it was something utterly pathetic.

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