Bad things have happened to me on my birthday before.
My cat Paws dying on my eighth birthday being one, but on my 23rd, London had something else in store for me.
After being narrowly missed by a hurled rock in Ealing while trying to move my housemate’s car out the way of a rampaging mob of teenagers, we made it safely to a friend’s house.
A few hours later I left to walk down the normally quiet residential streets back to our house, (which is above a shop) to see if the rioters had made their mark. The sound of sirens was almost permanent and a constant reminder that perhaps I shouldn’t be walking around.
On the quiet residential street to my house, walking towards me was a group of 20 or so ‘youths’, all carrying bottles of alcohol, and bags full of what was obviously looted goods.
“give us everything you got!”
My solution of crossing the road to avoid the mob was pretty useless to say the least. Before I knew it I was up against a wall, surrounded by hooded rioters filling their time with petty crime before they continued looting and smashing people’s property.
Shouts of “give us everything you got!” and “what phone you got bruv?!” confirmed they weren’t here with a cake.
Lying seemed pointless, but the desire to tell them it was my birthday in the hope they’d leave off was in the fore front of my mind. I restrained myself and handed over my Blackberry. As one took it off me, other members of the group tried to steal it off him, as if my phone had become a piece of zebra meat amongst hyenas.
“What else you got?” was then shouted. I replied by saying, “I don’t think I’ve got much money” to which one asked “you must have some change?” (Perhaps he needed to get a bus home later.)
…it could have been worse…
It was at this point I no longer felt in danger of being hurt, I don’t even think most of them realised what they were doing was a crime or in any way wrong. Relaxed and almost polite, I became yet another shop for them to take what they want. My bank card wrapped in a tenner was the last they got off me before they said I could go.
My thoughts the day after were that it could have been worse, but more so how crime in London on the August 8 became acceptable.
As well as the satisfaction that the muggers had more chance of being Jeremy Kyle’s best man than figuring out the password to my Blackberry.