I have become like Miss Betsy Trotwood.
“Let me see you ride a donkey over my green again, and I’ll knock your bonnet off. And tread upon it!”
A short time ago- at 12.30 am to be precise- I heard suspicious sounds on the street as I sat at my desk. I raised the sash window to find two girls preparing to pee. “Don’t you even try!” I shouted. “I’m calling the Police!”
They hastily pulled up their lacy knickers and hot-footed it back to the nightclub they had come from, doubtless because there was a long queue outside the Ladies.
A little earlier, riding back on my bike from an extremely long- rather wonderful- film (La Grande Bellezza, or The Great Beauty) I could hear the noise of Freshers tanked up and spilling out of Wahoo (our friendly neighbouring nightclub, providing an expensive rite of passage to alcoholism and related vices for students). The Police were there and one officer mistook me for our local Councillor, Susanna Pressel. He was excessively solicitous: “I’ve nabbed two of them urinating already, but this poor girl’s in a bad way.” La Grande Bellezza, which I’d just seen for the second time, is set in Berlusconi’s Rome and is an complex essay on corruption, decadence and, ultimately, death in a setting of magnificent architectural wonder. So it was sobering and salutary to come across what I witnessed at the entrance to my street.
She was about 18 and vomiting copiously. Her frightened friends were trying to prop her up, but she couldn’t even sit up and lay toppled over on the pavement. They said the three of them were from Brookes University. Expensive fees, expensive pastimes.
I went home and fetched my camera, but was warned by another officer (there were about 5 of them patrolling the pavements). “You could get into trouble over that. It’s privacy issues.”
It’s all right for people to behave badly, but if they recognize themselves behaving badly, then it’s the person taking photos who can be prosecuted.
Pete, the manager at Wahoo (motto: “Let the Good Times Roll!“) came out to shake my hand, looking natty in a long, Teddy Boy style overcoat. We chatted about this and that and he said a metal barrier would go up at 1 am to prevent people wandering into Upper Fisher Row and using it as a toilet and for general carousing purposes. I expressed gratitude.
The poor vomiting girl was now unconscious and a taxi (or perhaps and ambulance) was on its way.
I came home and downloaded my photos and wrote these paragraphs. Tomorrow I will call Environmental Health to come and hose down the street.
So ends another Wednesday Special Fuzzy Ducks night in the City of the Dreaming Spires.