I hadn’t noticed the police with semi-automatic rifles lumbering around outside TK Maxx on High Street Kensington before. I don’t know if they make me feel safer. I was just ambling to Argos to buy some wastepaper baskets and we crossed the road alongside each other. They were sporting huge great bulletproof vests and directional cameras on their helmets. Inevitable sunglasses to satisfy the childhood dreams instigated by Americana – the shiny TV shows that led to this being what they do on a working day. Trained to kill remotely with a ballistic tool made of metal, secretly hoping they just get to plod around and stop for chicken, wishing that cronuts would finally cross the ocean.
They wandered down a cobbled street marked with a “school” sign, scratching their arse. Like so many menacing things they were oblivious to their own menace. I took a photo when it occurred to me to do so. By that time they were miles away.
I’m on call now for an events company. I’ve got that great big Honda. This morning I burnt up to Heathrow and picked up a producer. He’s been in Uganda. It seems no matter how many times he travels round the world he still finds surprise in the little things. “No way. Internet works on my phone!” “What the heck? Oh yeah you guys drive on the left. God save the Queen.”
Those tooled up coppers wouldn’t even register with him. In Uganda they get a guy with an AK assigned to their crew. “He offered to help me get people to sign the release forms. I figured that might send the wrong message. He was about 7 foot tall. I paid him with a big bag of money. He said he’d disseminate it.”
I’m glad to be working on this show. It’s going to be interesting. It’s also going to be pretty difficult to blog because I’ve signed a comprehensive Non Disclosure Agreement. So I’ll stick with stuff I’ve noticed on the street today. Which brings me to the woman on the Santander Cycle riding down the embankment just now. Earphones in. Back of neck at 45°. Phone in hand. Staring, clocking traffic only in her peripheral vision. She didn’t have a clue where she was. But it didn’t bother her. And I thought back to those two human tanks in High Street Kensington, walking slowly surrounded by people like that – hand in front, head down. A strange new zombie plague. And here I am, head 45°, swiping words with my thumb. And here you are, head 45° unless you’re in bed, on your phone. And no, I know you’re not on a phone, smuggyface. You’re bolt upright at your geriatric PC and good on you. But I reckon most of us are thoughtlessly sinking into these things more and more, the more that people around us give us permission by doing so too. And they suck our cash in tiny amounts repeated over ages. Drip drip drip. The Matrix again. We are batteries. Just not quite in the way it was envisaged. But perhaps we need these big burly guys because if there was a Tyrranosaur attack nobody would notice but them.
Or perhaps we need to think. To look around more. To know where the edges are and not walk off. To stop the kids who are running around in the field. To remind ourselves and each other what the sky looks like today. How lucky we are despite all the outrage that’s peddled to us daily.
I’m going to leave you with Holden. Don’t kill any musicians.
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around–nobody big, I mean–except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.”