There isn’t a city I feel safer in than London. This is a result of my two years living in London, even during the time when IRA bomb scares and actual bombings were going on.
On my first day in London, an announcement came on the Tube that the next station was closed due to a security alert. A security alert meaning a suspicious package had been left behind. The pub that I worked at in Liverpool St had been damaged by a bomb that had gone off in the city a couple of years earlier.
Despite all this, I felt safe in London.
There is not much that gets past the eyes of the Bill, the English police force. They are notorious for being super sharp and good at protecting their citizens. And get this, they do not carry guns. At least, they didn’t when I was there. They keep that city under pretty tight security and I never felt unsafe riding the tubes alone at night-sometimes drunk- and walking the streets on my own.
See, I trust them. I know how with a squeal for help they will be there in literally minutes. It happened to me. I squealed and The Bill came to my rescue.
It was yet another night in Convent Garden with my travelling-house comrades. We found ourselves, sometimes three nights a week, drinking either at Belushis, Southside or the Outback, or Walkabout, as it is now called.
I think on this particular evening we found ourselves at Southside. Two for one cocktails on a Thursday night will do that. I still have the menu in my souvenir boxes in the garage; it will go in my bar one day as a reminder of great times with great friends, as well as a recipe for some pretty delicious cocktails.
We had just left Southside to make our way to another bar through one of the cobblestone back roads off the garden. Having lived here for quite awhile we knew all the shortcuts. Our Irish mate Antone was with us. Antone is one of the craziest guys I know and one of the most fun to hang out with. There was never a time we went out that we weren’t in stitches over his antics. You can read more about what he did on our Circle Line pub crawl. Antone was always fooling around, and on this night he’ll never forget how silly antics can sometimes get out of hand.
The boys in our house used to do this crazy wrestling thing with us girls, usually after several pints of beer or games of three man. They would throw us on the ground and pretend to spank us, while we would squirm and squeal, “Get off us! You are so gross”
As we turned to go up another back alley, Antone thought it would be funny to throw me on the ground (albeit gently) and spank me. After a few minutes of tussling and me screaming “Get off me Anton,” I broke free and ran up the street to catch up with the rest of our group, laughing hysterically.
I turned around, expecting to see Antone right behind me, so I could laugh and celebrate my victory in escaping. The laugh fell on my face. A very sober Antone stood at the bottom of the alley looking at me with pleading eyes. Two policeman had a hold of his arms, ready to put him in the backseat of their vehicle. I hadn’t even heard them pull up and they were there within minutes of our silly game starting.
“Oh, come on Madge. You’ve got to help me out here.”
Gingerly, I walked back down the street, savouring every moment of his desperation, trying not to laugh, as well as trying to sober up. Anyone who could appear from thin air like that needed to be treated with the utmost respect and reverence.
“Excuse me officer. Um…. But he is my friend”
“Are you sure about that ma’am? It didn’t look too friendly to us”
“No seriously, he is. We live together and we were just mucking around. We do this all the time. I’m really sorry for worrying you.”
Their eyes pushed their brows up to the hairline.
“Don’t be afraid miss. We can take him down to the station for questioning and sort him out.”
“No really, I promise you. This is Antone. We are friends. We have been drinking at the Southside and we are on our way to another bar, we were just playing is all. Can you please let him go?”
“See I told you, we’re just friends.” Antone’s shaking eyes looked at them. I think they were really enjoying scaring him.
They released him, “No more silly buggers hey. Be nice to the ladies.” shaking their heads they jumped in their bat mobile and drove away as fast as they came.
Antone threw his arms around me and we walked up the street together.
“Fookin ell. That was sooo close man. Thanks Madge, I owe ya one.
“Where the hell did they come from? I can’t believe how fast they got here. How would they have known?”
“The Bill have cameras everywhere Madge. There’s not a street in this town where they don’t have eyes on the ground.”
“Well, you got lucky didn’t ya? Drinks on you then. And no more silly buggers hey?”