July 04, 2007

TOURIST OR TERR-RIST?


Is it me? I became a one man terrorist alert in the West End today. Walking up Whitehall with my hood up and an odd shaped guitar under my arm in the back of my mind I was kind of half wondering how long it would take to be aprehended. If I had stuck to my original plan of changing onto the Central line at Bond St I might have caused less vexation.

I managed to walk up to Denmark st, buy a nut (pictured below) for my "Weapon of Mass Destruction", meet my ex on the corner of Oxford st and then go back down Charing Cross rd to sit in a coffee shop for about 45 minutes before a red BMW Police car pulled up as we sheltered from the rain at Cambridge Circus Theatre.

As soon as I saw them stop I knew they were coming over. They saw I had clocked them and reached in for their machine guns just in case, although the "item of suspicion" was leant against a wall.

"You took your time!" I said.

"You caused a few people a lot of worries mate.."

They were pretty cool and didn't even want to open the bag. They ran a name check which came out clear.

"What sort of music do you play?" asked one.

"Sort of Psychedelic Space rock..?"

"Oh you'd like Buckethead then.."

I laughed and said I'd like to film him with his hand on his H&K talking about Buckethead.

"He's got all the albums..he listens to them back at the station" one of the others added.

"I buy parts off ebay and build my own guitars."

The two talkative guys I couldn't really see using a machine gun in anger, but the third, quieter one seemed more like an ex-marine. He gave me my Stop and Search form as a souvenir.

If I was doing a Terr-rist test run I couldn't have timed it any better as I bumped into Hajj when I got off the train on the way home.


"You can't blame them really can you?" he laughed.

I've rarely walked along a road with Hajj, only having met him outside Fisnbury park mosque or at his house. A lot of people stare from one to the other. He invited me to a Cypriot community centre for a game of pool tommorow.

"They are all really angry."

"Why?" I said, expecting news of Muslims being harrased or arrested maybe.

"The smoking ban." he said. "They are all annoyed with having to smoke outside."

Hajj told me he was a mean pool player. I'll find out tomorow.

7 comments:

BigDog said...

You rabble rouser! :-P

Re: Police with submachine guns. American police have shotguns in their vehicles. I am told that European police are not armed with shotguns because their use is considered 'barbaric'. True?

Re: the smoking ban. Here's a quote for you.

"Those idiots want health. But what we need is more life." - Tattooed Marie, a Parisian barmaid, quoted à propos smoking bans

Got that from Samizdata

I am afraid my life is not as interesting. While walking my 105lb German shepard (Brits call them Alsations, I believe), I wear my camo boonie hat and peace loving t-shirt and strap a Glock 9mm. My only excitment is little kids wanting to pet the dog.

dave bones said...

You wanlk round with a gun? Whats going to happen?

BigDog said...

Nothing is going to happen, that's the point. It only takes a few CCW permit holders to make the streets safe.

dave bones said...

Thats what they say in afghanistan only without the permits.

twit said...

Careful with that axe...

I.:.S.:. said...

The UK is not Europe. In most European countries the cops are armed, in some quite heavily. In France, Germany, Italy you see plenty of officers with automatic weapons. In Finland (which has the highest per capita number of firearms in the EU), cops carry sidearms and keep a shotgun in the car, just like in the US.

Apart from a few hotspots, normal UK beat cops still don't carry guns. If a suspected firearm (table leg in plastic bag, golden pistol-shaped cigarette lighter, the occasional real gun etc.) is involved in an incident, they call in SO19 firearms officers (with Glocks, H&K MP5s and on occasion heavier things) who will take you right down without a chance to surrender.

In theory I am all for the right to bear arms and I like assault rifles. But in practice, if it was as easy and socially acceptable to obtain firearms in the UK as in the US, some parts of London would instantly become terrifying, whereas at the moment, for such a diverse, fragmented and chaotic city, London is really very peaceful and civilised.

I also think there is some malaise or spiritual sickness in US and other Western societies. For example, NWFP in Pakistan and Afghanistan are awash with all sorts of weapons, but you don't ever hear of people going on lunatic arbitrary shooting sprees in schools. Oh, there's political and sectarian and terrorist violence, but that is different and ideologically-based... you don't seem to get this people going 'postal' bit.

Maybe some would argue that people like that would here become suicide bomb volunteers or school-burning Talibs or such, but what I said holds true over the last couple of decades, before the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Suicide bombings are not a tradition here, they were never used against the Soviets, for example. It's a poisonous foreign Arab import.

I.:.S.:. said...

Yeah anyway Dave, wouldn't you feel much better having me around with a CCW permit and a Glock 19??

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people. And so do monkeys. If they have a gun." (Eddie Izzard)

Carrying a gun around in Afghanistan or NWFP wouldn't really help, anyway. Better to rely on charm and not make yourself a target. If it came to shooting, unless you were Rambo or driving your own tank, you would be outgunned and outnumbered by people who have been living in a war their whole lives and are not all that worried about dying.

There is also not a very developed culture of firearms safety, leading to loads of tragicomic accidents, like the old guy who shot himself trying to pull a loaded shotgun by the barrel from under a load of stuff on the back of a pickup. Or people who lean their loaded and cocked 30-year-old rifles against you on bumpy mountain roads.