I was going to try and go to bed, but there’s just been another fracas.

Sitting in living room; heard shouting and yelling; looked out just in time to see four or five guys chasing and punching another, who was very large, and hunched over as he ran, ducking the blows. Lovely, n’est-ce pas? Then several things seemed to happen at once: I shouted – they landed lots more extra punches – the guy stumbled, hit head on a lamppost, lay on the ground – and the others ran off into the shitehole they call an estate, next to our road, same one as the people last week and the week before that and the guy who did the shooting in July.

Called 999; the guy started trying to move; I ran down the three flights, opened the door, told him to stay still, ambulance on way. Etc. Get it? No, no, no. He stands up, weaving & lurching, finds he can’t walk, and leans against the wall. The 999 lady tells me an ambulance is on the way, then asks me so many questions, how do you spell this and that, can you describe the people you saw, whjat’s the victim’s name – as if I’ve had a chance to ask him! – that I’m far too busy to attend to the guy, who is really not standing up very well and is furthermore showing signs of wanting to leave. He’s a kid: 14, apparently, but huge. A lady comes along, an older black church lady; she’s telling him to stay put, in between remarking to me how fat he is. At least she’s not on the phone.

Well, and there we are: he starts to walk off, & I’m standing out there in my pyjamas and bare feet, at 11.30pm. Of course all the Hassidic guys are coming to the doors and asking questions but when I ask for a bloke to go get the kid back, will they? Like fun. I’m trying to call him back, the 999 lady tells me that “although an ambulance has been booked” there “isn’t a unit available for deployment” and, asked for an ETA, says “the ambulances don’t do that.” Am I supposed to run down to the main road after a 250-lb kid and keep him talking for what, an hour? A kid who doesn’t want to stay? With my kid sleeping upstairs & the flat door open?

My next-door neighbour Gavin spills, at this moment, out of a cab with two friends, all drunk and one on serious crutches – they’re no use. Up the stairs with them. The young Hassidic wife, in doorway, baby on hip: “Ohh, they’re so drunk.”

So, in the end, off went the kid, shambling crookedly down our road. His name was Carl Rabey, of Manor House.

You know another thing I was going to do? I was going to write in here about poetry.


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