I am a musician and teacher. And a cyclist. And a prolific writer of limericks. I moved to London in 2001, to become rich and famous (no, I am neither of these things). In the ten-and-a-half years I have been living in the capital I have been the victim of seven crimes; 5 of these have been in the last 14 months, and 4 of those have been physical assaults. It’s not as if I engage in dangerous behaviours (apart, perhaps, from cycling to work in traffic), and I do not make myself especially vulnerable (I use an old, undesirable mobile phone; I do not pick fights with groups of teenage males; I am not in a gang; I drink in moderation, and I do not frequent night clubs, biker bars or the House of Commons), so I fail to see why I have been attacked so much of late.

One of the crimes recently perpetrated against me and my possessions took place when I had, with carefree abandon, chained my bicycle with only three locks to a dedicated bike-parking-rail in Tottenham; I actually half-expected to find only bits of my vehicle remaining after I had played the show in the theatre one night that week, so the area at least did not let me down. On both occasions that my (cheap, old) car was broken in to, however, it was parked in Highgate. Of the four assaults of which I have been a victim, every one took place in East Finchley, Muswell Hill or Highgate. I have had glass bottles thrown at me from Coldfall Wood whilst cycling; I have had eggs hurled at me from a moving car whilst running along East Finchley High Road; I was beaten with a 4-foot wooden pole in a quiet side-street in Muswell Hill when walking home, and I was threatened and robbed at knife-point while waiting for a bus with a friend at Highgate tube station. The place where I feel safest is on the bustling (if threateningly-named) Shoot Up Hill where I work in Kilburn (Kill, Burn – the emptily unnerving – yet strangely comforting – call-to-arms of the borough of Brent).

If my personal rate of crime-victimisation continues to increase at the frankly alarming rate that it has recently begun to do, I will need to consider either giving in to my inclination to stay in bed and read all day, or hiring a bodyguard (and I can definitely afford to do neither of these). My solution? I don’t really have one. Run/cycle/walk/stand there and take it, I guess. Or maybe I should start hanging around in dark corners of middle-class suburbs with a baseball bat, terrorising the vulnerable and undeserved in an attempt to achieve some sense of karmic balance. But I have a lot of work on at the moment. And I could never be convincing as a mugger. Damn.

One Response to “Please stop attacking me and taking my stuff!”

  1. Sad to read this Gareth, it certainly stops me being romatically wistful about missing living in sleepy Sussex! I took my 9 & 7 year old boys to watch Tottenham for the 1st time on Saturday, which I’m sure like many things you would not encourage in my life! But I found myself saying stuff like “Let’s just follow the crowd, they look like they know where they’re going” OR “It’s ok to join in with standing up to hate Arsenal” (although I didn’t, it was a friendly fixture though) OR “Just join with whatever that man’s singing as we wait for the train” & “I will pay £15 for something for you each from this shop” in a shop charging £45 for any official tshirt…So is it London or football that is corrupting my ethos, logos & pathos?! Good to keep up with your news, you were an entertainingly bright light in the gloom of St Andrew’s back in Worthing… give us some notice if you’re ever around Chichester and I’ll try and be organised enough to do likewise if I get up into the big smoke sometime, Neil

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