Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Just when you thought things couldn't get any stranger.

I know that, living in London as I am doing for a bit, I should EXPECT things like what I am about to tell you. I know, I know, London - Crime and Corruption Capital. And I AM a careful girl. I don't walk where I shouldn't at dangerous times, I don't run up to criminals and flick them on the head so as to provoke a crime spree, and I certainly don't hang out in crack dens waiting for somebody to sell my internal organs for one last hit. No, those are things I would rarely consider doing.

Something I WOULD do, however, is go back home (or the place I am staying for a few months) after work on a Monday afternoon at 6.30. Yes, I would certainly consider that to be activity in which I would feel comfortable participating.

HA.

Monday was sunny and cheery. People were still reeling from Thursday but there was much talk of resilience and not succumbing to the terrorists and how sometimes Britannia rules waves or something and that we're not slaves and don't plan on being, ever - things like that.

I stepped off the number 242 bus, whilst talking on the phone to The Crush (more about that in later episodes) and planning a fun-filled excursion to The Place With The Interesting Beer to while away the hot evening drinking Delirium Tremens, and sat on the wall outside the flat for a bit, to finish the conversation and get my keys out of my bag.

Stepping into the hall I was looking down at my bag to put my phone away and sort out my keys. I looked up, about to put my key in the lock, saw a man I had never seen before standing about 12 inches from me, inside the flat. My brain tripped up as it scrabbled for recognition, and then, failing that, an explanation. Maybe it was a friend of the people I'm staying with. Maybe an electrician or a plumber. I looked down and saw a Mini-Disc player in his hand, the wires spewing everywhere. I looked back up at his face and registered for the first time that his eyes were very wide, he was shaking, and he was sweating profusely. I then started to shake violently and I stepped back, was forced backwards by the strength of the realisation that this was a Bad Man. Somebody who could, and might well, hurt me.

He growled at me Get inside. Then louder Get inside NOW.

I looked back at him, shaking uncontrollably. In my head I thought that as long as I stayed on the side of the door I was on, he couldn't hurt me. I couldn't tell whether or not he had a weapon. As I backed away from him he came towards me.

Get inside NOW. NOW.

I said No, no please. Please don't make me come inside, I repeated, Please don't make me I don't want to. No. Please.

But he was losing control and he was getting angrier and I needed to placate him, so as he came towards me again I said Ok, alright, I will come in, and walked in, noticing then that the door had been ripped from its frame.

I just couldn't stop shaking.

Please. Please. Please don't hurt me, I said. Here, proferring my phone. Take this. Take anything. Just please, please don't hurt me.

I don't want to hurt you, he said in a thick voice. Don't be scared. Don't be. STOP BEING SCARED.

Ok, Ok, I said. I'm not scared. Tell me what you want.

Money. Give me your money. Give me money, now. NOW.

I opened my bag and pulled out my little purse. I knew I had no money on me. I showed him.

I have no money to give you. I have no money.

You'd better have money. Give me your gold.

I don't have money, I don't have gold. But, here, take my Switch card. You can get money with that. I extended my pathetic bit of plastic towards him, trying to control my hands and remain composed as I thought that maybe, maybe if I was calm and relaxed that might rub off on him in some way. I was scared he might flip and start being violent in his desperation, so I tried to speak reassuringly and gently through my terror.

Here, I continued. I will give you my PIN number. That's what I'm doing now. I'm going to write down my PIN so you can take as much money as you want, is that alright?

I backed into the kitchen and grabbed a pen, wrote a random four-digit number down on a little music publication and gave it to him. He looked at it it, then looked back at me with huge, cold eyes, as I stood trembling and dizzy with fear, still muttering Please, please don't hurt me.

Empty your bag, he said, gesturing towards the black holdall bag I had dropped when I walked into the room.

I knelt down and obliged by tipping its contents onto the carpet, watching numbly as my clothes, shoes, make up, cleansers and perfume tumbled out. He put his hand into the pile of my things that are so very familiar that they had become alien to me in this, such an unfamiliar situation. He pulled out my phone charger and, snatching my bag from my hands, put it inside. In it he also shoved the mini-disc player, a laptop, my little phone and my switchcard. A disposable camera lay amid my belongings. As he picked it up and made to put it in the bag I plucked it out of his hands. You don't want that, I told him firmly, it's disposable. Oh, he glanced at me, slightly taken aback. Ok.

Then he regained the control. Stay there, kneeling, he uttered, the growl returning. I will, I said. He made to leave then turned to where I remained, kneeling amongst my belongings, shaking more violently than I ever want to again. Oh, and do me a favour? Wait two minutes before calling anyone, give me a chance to get away. I nodded, looking back up at him, willing him to leave. Of course I will. He reached past me, and with one strong pull ripped the phone out of the wall. Just in case, he said.

Then he left.

I pulled my old phone out of my bag, that by some miracle was still able to make calls, and dialled 999. I burst into near hysterical sobs as I gave them my address and reassured them that, no, I was not hurt, begged them to hurry hurry, please hurry. Then I called The Crush, who assured me he was getting in his car and driving round immediately. I called my flatmate, I called my Dad.

The police came round and took statements, and fingerprints. My flatmate came back and stood in shock as he surveryed the small living room taken up with burly police officers and words images that seemed so incongruous in the cosy little flat. The Crush came round and hugged me, telling me how relieved he was that I was alright, and then got me ice lollies, chocolate and beer, and made sure I was ok for the rest of the evening, hardly leaving my side. My Dad came round and hugged me, made sure I was alright, then left, telling me to come home if I wanted, just to call.

I don't really feel more scared about living in London, this sort of thing can happen anywhere and it could have been so much worse. I am grateful that I am not hurt. Just quite badly shaken, still, after two days.

I'll keep you updated. I'm just off now to buy myself a rather large bodyguard and a Kung-Fu For Beginners manual.

I hope things don't get any stranger around here, I'm not sure I could quite cope.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Jenny said...

OMG - I'm glad you have such a good support network to help you through this. I would have been scared out of my wits, I think you handled yourself brilliantly!

4:38 pm

 
Anonymous Euan said...

Yikes! Blimey Léonie... it all happens to you. You sound more controlled then I would have been. I would have kicked him in the nuts.

You coming to Gemma's tomorrow?

5:16 pm

 
Blogger Doug said...

Sounds like an upleasantly exciting event. Glad everything is OK. At least you gave him a random 4 digit PIN number. Is 999 the emergency number (it's 911 here)?

7:08 pm

 
Blogger peashelle said...

O.M.G. Truly horrendous! I am so very glad you are all right! I agree with Jenny, you handled it all fantastically.

7:38 pm

 
Anonymous Gemma said...

I hope you're ok and I'll put all my beef in to tracking the wankers down and pulling out their tastebuds with tweezers!

I love you loads. Gems x

9:17 pm

 
Blogger Leah said...

That is so terrifying. It has me wanting to lock my door right now in the middle of the afternoon in a pleasant, safe neighborhood.

I'm more than thrilled that you're okay, that nothing major was taken, but wow. What a way to round out a great few days, huh?

Crush sounds like he deserves to be your Crush. At least he pulled his weight what with the pampering and all!

11:48 pm

 
Anonymous Marshmlo10 said...

Whoa. I'm very impressed that you made it through that without peeing your pants. I'm so glad you're ok (and I don't even KNOW you!)!

12:44 am

 
Blogger Bug said...

Glad you're alright, lovey x

3:28 am

 
Blogger monkey typist said...

thats so so awful, you did really well, to stay calm and things.
i suppose, as with recent events, you dont really know how you'll deal with things until they happen to you. you were very brave, have a sherrifs badge *

9:40 am

 
Anonymous Chris said...

I'm horrified. I hope you're not too shaken up. What a prize cunt.
Lots of love, and an imaginary, though still keenly felt, big hug.

Chris x

12:22 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very behind on blog reading this week but I'm so glad that you're okay! What a terrible thing to have to go through. Sounds like you handled the situation much better than most people would have.

-radiantsky

6:09 am

 
Blogger قمم التميز said...

شركة نقل اثاث
الاثاث من الاشياء التى نستطيع ان نبذل فية الكثير من الجهد والوقت من اجل ان يتم القيام باعمال النقل من مكان الى اخر سواء الى اى مكان فى المملكة او اى مكان خارج المملكة ، فاعمال النقل من الخدمات التى تبدو لنا انها سهلة وبسيطة الا انة فى نهاية الامر من الخدمات التى تؤدى الى التعرض الى مشاكل كثيرا من الصعب ان يتم القيام بحلها من الكسر والخدش والتلفيات والضياع ،شركة قمم التميز من اهم وافضل شركة شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض
التى تحقق اعلى مستوى من خدمات النقل للاثاث والقيام بالاتفاق مع مركز التعاون الخليجى من اجل ان يتم الحفاظ على الاثاث ضد اى مشكلة ، فاذا كنت فى حيرة من امر النقل فتاكد انك الان تمتلك افضل الشركات المميزة الخاصة باعمال النقل من خلال الاعتماد على توفير عدد من الخدمات المميزة . اثاث مستعمل
شركة قمم التميز على وعى كبير باعمال النقل والتى تحقق افضل مستوى من خدمات النقل التى تؤكد ان الاثاث يتم الانتقال من مكان الى اخر دون ان يتم التعرض الى اى مشكلة من اهم الخدمات المقدمة الاتى :- بيع اثاث مستعمل بالرياض
1- الاعتماد على افضل النجاريين المتخصصين فى اعمال الفك بطريقة حرفية لان الاثاث يحتاج الى القيام باعمال الفك الى قطع اصغر من الممكن حتى يتم حماية الاثاث من التعرض الى اى تلفيات او ظهور اى عيب فى الاثاث بعد التركيب .
لا تكتفى شركة نقل اثاث بالقيام باعمال النقل فقط بل تهتم باعمال التركيب واعادة الاثاث الى ما كان علية بعد ان تتم اعمال النقل مباشرا . شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض
شركة تخزين اثاث
تخزين الاثاث من المهام التى نجتاج الية فى اوقات معينة اثناء الانتقال من شقة الى اخر او القيام بالسفر لفترات طويلة ، فالحرارة المرتفعة والرطوبة والاتربة الناعمة تؤدى الى ظهور التشققات و تؤدى الى التكسير المفاجىء للاخشاب ، فاذا كنت فى حيرة من اعمال النقل فتعاون مع شركة المتخصصة فى اعمال التخزين من الامور التى لابد من القيام بية بطريقة مميزة على ايدى متخصصين فى القيام بهذة الخدمة .
شراء اثاث مستعمل الرياض
شركة قمم التميز من اهم الشركات التى تقوم بانشاء مستودعات طبقا لمعاير ذات جودة مميزة والتى تساعد فى الحفاظ على الاثاث ضد اى عيوب او اى مشكلات تظهر مع مرور مدة التخزين بالاضافة الى ان المستودعات مقسمة من الداخل الى اماكن مخصصه للزجاج واماكن مخصصة للاخشاب وهكذا حتى يتم الحفاظ على الاثاث فعليك ان تتعاون وتتواصل مع الارقام المتواجدة على الصفحة من اجل ان اثاث مستعمل بالرياض

تتم الحفاظ على الاثاث ضد اى تغيرات من الممكن ان تحدث ، بالاضافة الى اننا نقدم عقود مميزة فى اعمال التخزين فى مقابل ارخص الاسعار .

12:11 am

 

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