Monday, 25 July 2005

Green Fingers

Quite a quiet weekend, didn't get out much but got lots done. Saturday, we lost track of the time and I ended up being shaved, showered and dressed in just ten minutes, so we could get to Alice's end-of-term ballet class. For the final class of the term, parents are allowed to watch. So, we rushed off complete with camera. In fact, it really is an eye-opener to see Alice at these classes now. She actually listens and does as she's told, rather than just doing her own thing. You can see why the school have claimed she's progressed so much this year.

Off out to the shops - Hockeys then Sainsburys, and then on to the garage to pick up my car. Fortunately the damage was just an oil filter, which in the grand scheme of things is basically trivial. Very relieved since my car is now of an age where maintainance can be expensive...

Once home, I got out into the garden, where lots of things required "trimming". I took the hedge trimmer to the bushes along the boundary of the property and cut back anything overhanging onto the road. Typical garden work - the cutting took fifteen minutes and the tidying took a couple of hours. Still, the garden looks all the better for it. Far more to do, of course - I must trim the other side of the bushes (I only trimmed the parts that face the road), and the largest task, to cut back the magnolia tree.

These tasks were planned for Sunday, but steady rain all day put paid to any work in the garden. Instead, I had a nice lie in, and then tidied the back bedroom in preparation for my mum's visit later in the week. In the end, the cleanup was very successful. I ended up with a very small pile of documents I need to keep, a slightly larger pile of documents I'm going to scan and then shred, a still larger pile of documents to go straight to the scanner, and an enormous pile of miscellany which can just be left out for the next waste paper collection.
Spent a lot of time, therefore, shredding things. So much so that the shredder cut out about three times (it cuts out when it gets too hot), and I had to wait for it to cool before continuing. At the very end, I think I might even have broken it, but I'm not sure - it may just have been acting funny since it was hot. But basically I had a bin bag and a half to shred, and there will be more to come... Hope I haven't broken the thing!

So that was it, really. Lots of tidying in both the garden and the house. Meantime Jacqueline ran the hoover round and cleaned the kitchen, so everything looks very respectable at present.

Must say something on the events of the last few days. The last time I really mentioned anything in the news was a couple of weeks ago, after the bombs went off in London. Very quickly, it seems, the Police managed to identify the (suicide) bombers. All four were disgruntled Muslims, all four were ostensibly "home grown", i.e. had UK backgrounds. Very concerning.

Last Thursday I was invited out for a lunchtime beer, it was Lesley's (client) birthday. As I was sipping my shandy at the Blue Posts one of the chaps received a phone call to say that there were reports on tv of further explosions. I got onto the internet and sure enough, Sky's website was reporting the same. Incidents at Warren Street, The Oval, Shepherd's Bush and a bus in Hackney. As these things do, over the course of the afternoon events became clearer - it would appear that every device failed to explode. The detonators exploded, but did not set off the explosives themselves. A lucky escape, and this was made all the more interesting because the current reports are that the explosive was the same as that used in the bombs of a couple of weeks ago. There were further reports of one guy laying star-like on top of his bomb as he thought it was about to explode, and of one guy looking very hacked off when his backback failed to detonate. So, no explosions, but all four of the guys managed to escape. Obviously everything went into a state of high alert.
Friday, we started getting reports that a guy has been shot by Police at Stockwell. Of course, everyone is quick to make a link between this and the explosion at The Oval. Plus, there were eyewitness reports very shortly afterwards which gave the impression of almost a "hit" - the guy was running from the Police, who caught him, got him on the floor, and shot him five times at very close range. Obviously this guy was dead, although the news reports were at pains to say that they tried their best to revive him.

Very mixed feelings about this - on the one hand you feel that this is no more than these bombers deserve. Yet on the other hand, in a civilised society the Police would need to have absolutely rock-solid reasons for behaving in this way. This kind of behaviour has got to be the exception rather than the norm. I even argued with Jacqueline over this on Friday evening - her stance was that by not stopping when challenged by the Police, he deserved to be shot.

My concerns were borne out on Saturday, when it emerged that the guy who had been killed was a 27-year-old electrician, just going about his business. Of course, nobody knows why he ran away when challenged by the Police, but the fact remains that by running, he sealed his own fate. And this is the real problem we have - it is all very well to say "shoot 'em all", but it is a whole new ball game when it comes to identifying who "they" are. Can the Police be allowed to shoot people who run away when challenged, as a matter of course? Of course they can't.

Now we hear that the victim's family are intent on suing the Met. Don't blame them, I would do exactly the same.

I suppose all this does is to prove what a fine line the Police need to tread. In the cold light of day it is easy to see things as "right" or "wrong", but in the heat of the moment things become a lot more complicated. And, of course, we need to be satisfied that the guy firing the gun is behaving as rationally as possible under the circumstances. I wonder whether this is always the case?

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