The sound of the police

This afternoon as I was walking up Queen’s Crescent, a BMW X5 with police markings drove slowly down the street, with police officers looking out of the windows as if searching for someone. The car stopped, then set off quickly with its lights flashing. A small cluster of men had come out of the betting shop to watch the car suspiciously, and were now discussing it. “Armed response unit,” one of them was saying. “What’s armed response doing here?”

It was interesting how they knew what kind of unit the car was from, as the BMW had had no markings to tell anyone. But the way the blokes outside the betting shop on Queens Crescent talk about the police has that sort of casual, detailed knowledge though; it reminds me of the way the older men in my village used to talk about different kinds of cloud and weather.

Before I’d left the crescent the police helicopter was overhead, flying low and circling us.


The chopping sound of the engine banging against the buildings is disconcerting, and sometimes I wonder if the helicopter is ever used just to intimidate people. You can see why people in occupied territories hate and the armies who use them; in Iraq ¬†they must have been part of America’s PR disaster.

The blokes outside the betting shop stared up at it, presumably trying to identify the make and model number.