Monday, March 29, 2010

In Denial...

I'm 45 today and in complete denial about it!

So weird - just cannot get my head around that fact, and of course that in another fast-forward 5 years (which will feel subjectively like about 18 months) I'll be 50.
It is so strange!

On Saturday I had to go into London for something, but was done by 2pm so went over to Wimbledon to see the tennis museum. One of the features is a little trip to a viewing platform on Centre Court, my first visit to "the cathedral of tennis" since 1987. As everyone says, it's a shock to see how small and intimate it is, especially compared to it's hideous competitors like the infamous Ashe Heap in Flushing Meadows.

The museum is rather nice with that immaculate clean hyper-maintained look that pervades the whole grounds. While some of the high tech displays are a bit tacky, the alternative would be static displays of yellowing tennis clothes, posters and warped rackets - not really worth seeing for all but the most die hard fans.


Saturday, March 20, 2010


Last night at around half one, I was woken by loud angry shouting from outside.

Drunken yelling is nothing unusual outside the pub opposite, but this was LOUD and aggressive. I lay listening to it for a while, waking up before finally getting up and going to the window.

Just outside were two groups of four people, and one really LOUD drunk woman, rather overweight, accusing one or two other people of something which I couldn't really understand. She was very drunk and very aggressive, but the others were restraining her and the two groups seemed to be handling it as best they could.

But things got worse, and the LOUD woman eventually started hitting one of the men and one or two other men started fighting too.

At that point, perhaps too late, it seemed time to call the police. Downstairs I went to find my mobile. 999. A very calm (trained) voice asks me which emergency service do you require? Police. Another calm trained voice asks me what the trouble is. By this time I'm back upstairs and looking through the bedroom window again. But a police car is already there! I apologise, but the police operator still wants my name, and she also asks how many people are involved in the fight. Nobody's fighting now, but there are at least nine people out in the street, with just two police officers. She confirms this information and says goodbye.

A minute or two later, two more police cars quietly roll up and there are now four policemen and two policewomen on the scene. Suffolk police have their critics, but I'm not one of them. The temptation must be to make some arrests and start ordering people about. They don't do any of that - one pair talk to one group of drunks, one pair talk to the other group, and the final pair hang back. It's hard to know how much of this is experience and how much is training, but they handle the situation really well.

It would have probably ended there, but the stupid loud-mouthed woman is too drunk or dim or angry to understand what's going on, and after calming down for a minute or two she flares up again, running towards someone in the other group. She's given the police no choice and they arrest her, although even then she's walked to the police car by two officers, not handcuffed or anything. The car drives off with two officers and her in it.

And that's pretty much it - the police make sure the two groups of people go in different directions, and one of them speaks to Chris the landlord.

I like Britain a lot, but the drunken violent culture we have here, and have had here for centuries is not nice or pretty or useful. Considering how tonight's little episode had the potential to turn into a really nasty/dangerous incident, I thought the police handled it brilliantly. But then all over the country, every week-end, they get a lot of practice.