Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Went to Baltic a couple of weeks ago for my sister’s birthday drinks. The list of cocktails is truly awe-inspiring, and I was briefly tempted by a Cracow 75, before settling on a Billie Jean. ’75 is the year I was born, but in Tooting rather than the World Heritage site that is Krakow (to give it its proper name). After discussion, Steve and I decided a Tooting 75 would probably comprise: 1 part Mad Dog 20/20, 1 part Tennant’s Extra, topped with Lambrusco and garnished with chicken bones and a wad of gum on the side of the glass.

Went to Emerald’s birthday drinks on Sunday, in Brockwell Park. It was lovely: I’ve never been to that park and it was like being on a village green or something. If you looked in a certain direction all you could see over the crest of the hill was a church spire . . . who’d have thought Brixton was mere steps away? After some wine I toddled off home, stopping for an ice-cream in my local shop. A young woman was there, wearing a small, pale Siamese cat draped over her shoulder. Trying very hard to sound sober, I said ‘That’s just the prettiest cat!’ She looked at me funny and I think in my slightly intoxicated state (damn Emerald and her violet liqueur!) my words actually came out as ‘I want to eat your cat. Mmmm, tasty. Where do you live?’

A horrible thing happened on Saturday morning. I was eating my cornflakes when I became aware of terrified screams coming from one of the tower blocks I live in the shadow of. After about a minute, the screaming hadn’t stopped. It was punctuated by very angry shouting. Now, to give you some idea of how loud this was: I was sitting in my living room, and the tower blocks are about 100 metres away. So I grabbed my phone and keys and ran to the estate, trying to decipher which building the screams were (still) coming from. Once I thought I knew, I called 999 and a police car was on the scene within a few minutes (unlike in Mike’s case . . . ). The police seemed very eager to talk to a young couple looking very upset and standing outside the doorway of the block. I do not think they were the people I heard, as from the sounds I heard I did not think the woman doing the screaming would be able to walk, much less look composed and talk to the police. I stood outside the block for a few minutes, shaking and trying not to cry, and then I went home.

At home, I listened for another siren, assuming an ambulance would follow, but there was nothing. So I thought the screaming woman was dead. I mean, do you know what five minutes of screaming sounds like? And anyone can tell the difference between ‘stop tickling me’ screaming or ‘what a scary film’ screaming and ‘I think he’s going to kill me’ screaming. And what I heard was definitely the last one. After a few hours of trying to read and crying and not think about it, I called my local police station to find out what had happened, figuring that, as I made the 999 call, I had a right to know. The man I was put through to scrolled through his incident log. ‘When the police got there the situation was over. The woman didn’t want to press charges, so they left.’ he sounded satisfied, even smug. So I guess what I learned on Saturday morning was:
1) You can’t help someone unless they want to help themselves and
2) To mind my own fucking business
3) That the police really don't seem too bothered to tackle the domestive violence epidemic in England (with two women a week killed by their partners, I think I can call it an epidemic without being alarmist)

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