Monday, November 16, 2009

Party, coincidence and the police

It can take long time for reviews to make their way to you, perhaps not nearly ten years, though, which is the case for the one I stumbled on today. Some writers claim never to read them but the good ones can give you a sense of whether your words work. Charles Bennett reviewed Party for the English Studies journal and I'm cheered by the fact that he appears to appreciate the book.

"Wills explores the seemingly ordinary surface of things, her descriptions acute and poised, and finds – as she follows the dictates of the poem – that the everyday has become unsettling: violent or suddenly beautiful. The poems lead round to the other side of things like a Mobius strip: the reader begins in one place on a seemingly ordinary day and suddenly there we are, on the other side of it all with no memory of how we arrived at this suddenly cold and threatening destination....."

And it's that final idea that rang the coincidence bell when I read it.

Yesterday I was walking a neighbour's dog on the racecourse. It was windy, dramatic and and I was walking fast to try and compensate for the amount of sitting I've been doing. We did the sweep of the racetrack, down into the dip and over towards Wilson Avenue. I was on my way back up the hill feeling fantastic as I always do when I've had nearly an hour of the sea, air and city below me. I heard some motorbikes across the valley. They'd come in from East Brighton park, I guess, and were speeding along the ridge. I was irritated by the noise, but not worried, until I realised they'd raced across to the side I was on and they were fast. The dog was off the lead and I was at the bottom of a slope. Suddenly they were at the top of the slope, riding down, then waiting on a path, revving their engines. They wanted me out of the way. I was trying to get the dog and then they were speeding towards me, one in front, manic, the other holding back more.

The dog wouldn't come, then she did, and one of them was a couple of yards from me, on the slope, laughing like a maniac. I'd called the police - the only time I've ever dialled 999. It took most of the day to feel normal. The bikes had become a weapon and from being safe, ordinary, at the end of my walk, I turned into a wreck as the bikes shot back off to the ridge and away.

The police turned out just under an hour later.

The same force that sent a transit van full of men in flak jackets to break up a bunch of 8 to 13 year olds playing football at the cemetary gates one summer evening, chasing an eight year old boy up the road with the van... that sent 3 cars to intercept a friend who'd been seen 'driving erratically' (not drunk, just careless) and that attempted to ignore a daylight attack on Lewes Road very recently.

Yes, a squad car in a traffic jam on the opposite side of the road to the attack - I was walking at the time with my daughter. A volvo pulled up in front of us, a woman got out and started attacking another woman yards away. I couldn't intervene, but saw this police car and was signalling to it. Eventually the woman driving it looked at me and wound down her window. I pointed to the attack still going on under her nose (she was not alone in the car).....what did she do? She raised her eyes to heaven, looked sour and pulled over reluctantly.

My daughter rang 999 recently when she was with friends. They saw a man covered in blood walking down the road, staggering. They waited for the police who never arrived.