Thursday, 19 August 2010

So far so good

I have to pinch myself sometimes, I cannot believe the life I lead. The contrasts are so extreme day to day, and I would never have imagined I would be lucky enough to live somewhere like Rock HQ.
Take yesterdays contrasts. After an uneventful, almost routine assessment visit on a particularly rough part of my patch I was absent mindedly ambling along to my car, hoping several things, mainly that the wheels would still be on it, or the tyres still up, preferably all the windows intact and the paintwork as I left it, not with some interesting artwork added by way of a sharp piece of metal or key. Mostly I was hoping that a fridge wasn't on the bonnet, the door would open, the engine would start and I would get out alive. This is a place where dogs go round in packs, postmen arrive at random times in unmarked cars and run every where and Police cruise round in armoured vans donated by the now defunct RUC. The car was intact, so far so good. As I opened my car door a tall man was, and there is no other word to describe his behaviour, loitering in the adjoining alley. I carried on getting in my car, no need to antagonise the locals by staring at them, but something in his hand held my attention as I started the engine and reversed turning to face the alley. He was holding a pistol, the 9mm black shooty type. Very casually he examined the thing before tucking it in the back of his jeans, covering it with his jacket as he walked away. I drove a short distance mentally checking all mobile phone types for ones that resembled guns. None matched. I had seen a gun. Being British I don't like to make a fuss but I phoned the police anyway, the emergency operator was very reassuring as I babbled my location and description of the suspect. She asked me where he had gone, me not knowing the area at all did not help so I decided to get out of the car and have a look down the alley to get a better location. I was feeling brave now, right up to the point I came out of the alley at the far end and almost walked into him and his friend poking around in a bush. Bravery evaporated and suitabley motivated to run I got back to Vic the Volvo without an accompanying volley of shots and sat to wait further instructions from the Police. After ten minutes they called back, already I noticed an absence of sirens, no masked uniformed men abseiling from helicopters, just me sat on the car park watching the alley. I could go home they said, we are on our way they said, thanks they said.
I left for tea and reassurance at the office.
Back at Rock HQ my heart rate had returned to normal and I was faced with a problem about as far removed from facing lone gunmen as you can get. The fish were in crisis and several were dead, so the quiet evening I planned went out of the window while three hundred gallons of water was bucketed out of one tank, pipes laid and water replaced some 150 fish were then caught by torchlight and put in the new tank. This saved the fish and was quite therapeutic.
I was asked today if I was surprised as the Police had not got back to me. Perhaps. But after checking with colleagues who have worked the estate longer than I it would seem that if the Police responded to every report of a gun sighting there they would not have time to eat donuts and harass motorists.
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