Monday, October 23, 2006

An All Too Close Encounter

Early Saturday morning sees me on my way to work. It's 5.35 a.m., dark, as you'd expect, & I'm approaching a footbridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal. A youth approaches me from a side path which runs parallel with the canal.
"Have you got a light, mate?", he calls.
"Sorry mate, don't smoke," I reply, my street savvy mechanism whirring into action as I slow my stride.
The youth then says, "You want to watch it, mate."
"Watch what?", I reply, eyeing him warily.
He repeats the warning. Within a few seconds three youths, all hooded, cross the bridge in my direction.
The youth who warned me calls out to them that they should "leave it".
I decide, in my best "fuck you" mode to sidestep them on the bridge. They move toward me, one of them has what seems to be a ski mask.
"Where d'ya want it, mate?" he demands.
Within a millisecond I spot the large kichen knife he's brandishing. I decide to say as little as possible; a single word could act as a trigger.
A brief, but all too tense, standoff ensues, during which time one of the three who had crossed the bridge mumbles, "We just want your money, mate".
That much was crystal clear to me. At the first opening, I decide to hightail it back towards home just a few hundred yards away (I also surprise myself by sprinting in heavy shoes).
An initial phone call on my mobile phone to the police is followed by a call from home to my workplace. A squad car arrives within 20 minutes & two officers take a statement. It transpires that there had been a report of a postal worker being threatened by youths answering the descriptions I've given approximately 30 minutes before my encounter.
Most of Saturday morning is taken up with a visit to my workplace by another officer, who takes a full statement. He drives me back to the scene of the incident. He scans the scene, then says, "Bingo!"
A bar, at the side of the road leading to the footbridge, has a CCTV camera pointed in the direction of the bridge. Inquiries are made with a female cleaner at the bar. The bar owner can be contacted on Monday morning, she says.
"The officer, who reminds me slightly of John Simm in "Life On Mars", notes wryly, "He will be".

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