You may have noticed a bit of an offline absence from me for a while. This has been for many reasons really but the most pressing has been the organisation of our street party. People with long memories may remember that I wanted our street to have a party, but didn’t want to do the actual organising. Obviously that didn’t happen and it has taken a fair bit of energy and enthusiasm (not to mention diplomacy and a long fuse) to get it off the ground.
But it was worth it. Come Sunday morning the cars were all moved off the street. The bunting was put up and all the kids were out with their brooms cleaning the road. It didn’t seem like work though, the whole street came out to help. People bought salads and cakes, they helped BBQ, the home brew punch appeared, some table football and table tennis also came out. People who have lived on the street for over 60 years dug out old photos and reminisced about the last time they had seen the street with children playing hopscotch down the middle of the (carless) road. Our ballroom dancing neighbours taught the street how to strut our stuff to Saturday Night Fever. Once the night came on the kids got put to bed and everyone came back out again, to sit around, share some wine and get to know each other. Someone had a projector and rigged up a screen and put on Mamma Mia so we ended the evening dancing in the streets. It was magic.
I wish it had ended there. With everything I had I wish that that magic day had ended there. But it didn’t. As we were putting everything away, we realised that a few of the young lads from a neighbouring street had come to join us. Noone had a problem with that. But they didn’t want to leave. One thing led to another, a few moments to take the pressure out of the situation were missed and there was a bit of a fight. Somewhat all handbags at dawn, but punches were thrown and voices were raised. But the lads left and that we thought was an unfortunate end to the day.
I wish it had ended there. But it didn’t. Just as everyone was still standing there, mouths open at how such a lovely day had so suddenly gone sour, 5 men came running round the corner smashing a bottle as they came. They streamed into the road and began to indiscriminately attack people. They distinguished themselves by targeting the women and older men. One of them stood in front of me, looked at me carefully and then punched me in the throat. Other women were thrown to the ground, old men were kicked. The younger men were also targeted, the attackers not frightened to punch Dave on the back of the head whilst he was already parrying blows.
Fortunately the police arrived at that point so the violence stopped, with about 12 residents of our street having been physically attacked in some way.Some of them were arrested. We spent the rest of the night giving statements to the police and being tended to by the paramedics.
There’s so much I could write. But what upsets me most of all is that an amazing day, where the whole street came together and had such fun as a community will be remembered for a night of violence. At school the next day it was all anyone from the wider community it was all anyone could talk about. Not about the power of community, but the nastiness of a few scrotey scum who were nothing to do with us. They live round the corner. We’ll see them every day. They know where we live. Everyone is nervous about whether they will choose to target our houses for their (fairly regular) burglary efforts or the people who stood up against them. Our community had come together and bonded, and now it is wary and jittery.
I thought quite long and hard about whether to write about what happened in the evening. It is hard enough to get the energy and enthusiasm together to get the momentum for a street party off the ground. I don’t want to put anyone off doing it, or have anyone use it as an excuse not to. So I’m choosing to remember the street party as a separate event. Something magical and glorious. The pondlife won’t be allowed to take that away from us.