diamond geezer

 Monday, January 29, 2007

Broadgate, London: And then we met Police Constable Kevin, or rather he found us. He whistled from halfway down Threadneedle Street, waved his arms and jogged down to meet us. At long last, after several hours underground, we'd finally made contact with officialdom in the outside world! Maybe now we'd get some answers. But this policeman was in no mood to tell us what was going on, just to order us around.

"Oi! You lot! You're not supposed to be here! Follow me! Now!"

So follow him we did, and fast. Our imaginations scanned rapidly through a selection of nightmare scenarios (crazed gunmen, dirty bombs, rampant Ebola, alien death rays, the usual), and our feet sped up with each terrifying thought. We headed past the undamaged fortress walls of the Bank of England, then turned left into Old Broad Street. Eventually we reached a limp strip of blue and white tape stretched across the roadway, ducked beneath it and reassembled on the plaza in front of Tower 42.

Acres of fragile glass hung ominously above our heads, but PC Kev seemed unperturbed. Instead he pulled himself up to his full five foot seven (plus helmet) and introduced himself to a bemused sea of weary faces. He told us that the area we'd just left had been sealed off since quarter to nine this morning when a suspect white van had been identified. He said that the whole area had been evacuated, along with large parts of the rest of Central London, and that the last six hours above ground had been "especially manic". He kept mentioning the "ongoing situation" and "national security" but never quite provided details (despite our lengthy pleading). The mobile networks were down, he explained, so we'd be wasting our time trying ring our families. And he apologised for the diminished police presence in the City, because all his colleagues had been called away to "the Westminster incident" several hours ago and now there was only him and a couple of traffic wardens left to mop up any last stragglers.

"What I need to ask you to do now," he said, "is to continue down this street and join the queue of evacuees waiting around the corner. We need to clear the affected area in the centre of London, so you'll all be embarking on special trains at Liverpool Street. A special evacuation service will transport you away from the rail hub and deliver you to an unloading point outside the capital. Here local authorities will provide for your basic needs until normality is restored. It's all part of an official government resilience plan called Operation Sassoon, ladies and gentlemen. There's no need to worry. It's for your own safety, you understand."

We were all shocked and downheartened, but Martin was the only one of us to vocalise his opposition. He explained that he lived in Shoreditch which wasn't far away, and he'd be going straight home thank you. No way was he ending up being dumped in godforsaken Braintree, or Ipswich or somewhere. He had a game of squash booked tonight, and his tropical fish needed feeding before bedtime, and his girlfriend was expecting him. PC Kevin told him he had no choice - the area was being evacuated and that was that. Martin was having none of it, and walked off in the opposite direction, back the way we'd come. He ignored the policeman's loud protestations and strode on, yelling something about not living in a police state. Kevin's bullet caught Martin between the shoulder-blades and he slumped messily to the floor. And the rest of us, once we'd torn our gaze away from the spreading pool of blood, shuffled off meekly to await yet another miserable train journey.
Posted at 15:29 from 51°30'58"N 0°5'0"W via my Z470xi mobile

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