10 October, 2006

Evenin' all

Strange goings-on last night.

I was woken at about 1am by the sound of voices outside down below, including the distinct and heart-stopping phrase "the police want to get in."

There's an intercom system operational in this small block of apartments, and for someone to gain access to the stairwell a resident has to buzz down and open the main door. I don't know who did this, but within a few seconds I heard raised voices getting ever closer and then the ominous thump-thump-thump of a front door being pounded.

It wasn't mine, thankfully, but the one of the flat opposite me across the way, occupied - as far I could tell from merely seeing the tenant coming and going - by a large Afro-American woman with a propensity to go about her business at a speed roughly equivalent to a tired snail.

Pretty soon her voice could be heard shouting from within. "I will call the police! I have my passport! I am a UK citizen! I am calling the police!" "This is the police" informed the uniformed contingent the other side of the door. "Could you let us in please? We need to check you're all right." "I have my passport," the women wailed. "I am a UK citizen!" "We don't want to check your passport," they consoled. "Your sister wants to know if you're all right." "I don't want to see my sister!" came the response. "You can arrest me. I have my passport. I am a UK citizen!"

Well, this went on for some time. It soon became clear the women was, if not hysterical, then mentally unwell - there was much talk outside the door of the lady's condition and the fact she "hadn't taken her pills". The police soon went back outside and I could see from my window there were friends and family of the resident among them as well a nurse and several other uniformed officers.

I tried to go back to sleep, but it was pretty clear this situation wasn't going to end until there was a resolution, and one that involved the woman being made to leave her flat and climb into the ambulance waiting in the road.

I could still hear her screaming about "just needing something to eat" and how her sister "wanted to assassinate her". The drama of the occasion was accentuated by it being now almost 2am and the fact there were no other sounds to be heard anywhere in the whole district except the lady shrieking.

Anyway after what felt like an age the party of visitors came back in and on the premise of wanting to check her passport managed to shuttle her out of the flat, down the stairs and out into the ambulance. She was babbling and chuntering the whole time, but the unsettling thing was the way her body language was so at odds with her voice. She moved slowly and calmly, with dignity; no arms thrashing, no restraining of limbs, nothing by way of a forced escort at all.

I'm not sure if she's been back since. I can see into one room of her flat from one of my windows, and the place looks, well, decidedly normal. Up until last night I'd never heard her speak. I barely knew she existed.


Post a Comment

<< Home