I waited for my appointment in the garden. There was a beetle meandering over the paving slabs. The azaleas were particularly beautiful. Much nicer than the waiting room, with its “Aggression towards staff will not be tolerated” notices. There was a policeman waiting too, for a partner-agencies meeting. “It’s been all go in your patch” he said when the social worker came in. Yes, there has been a murder in Marsby. Something to do with drug dealing. I joined the conversation. I may be one of the nutcases- “service users” is the preferred term- but I still look like a professional, more or less.
Normally Bob (I read his name badge) works in Zhuzhkov, but he was in Swanston at the weekend. It was a nightmare. There had been a fight at the club, and so the manager had closed it down, and there were all these people hanging around outside, resentful at not carrying on drinking. Bob thinks they are idiots, they should just go home. Would it be better to keep the club open rather than pour people onto the street all at once? No, the manager was right to shut, and when it closes at four in the morning people hang around outside for ages. Idiots.
There was a man shouting outside the bus the next day, and then he got on the bus and hit a man sitting at the back. He shouted something about don’t try to burn down my mother’s house. Two men about twenty, maybe younger. The bus driver, sixty with a pronounced South Efrican eccent barrelled down to deal with them. He would not let the assailant off. The assailant phoned his mum to say that she should come to the police station, and the bus driver would not let him off the bus. “He had me by the throat”, he said, an exaggeration. The bus driver phoned the police, and the bus company. An older woman stood by the assailant gloating. “The police are coming. You’re in trouble now.” I thought this unhelpful. He seemed a child. He waited quietly.
I got off, thinking the police might want witnesses, not wanting to get involved. I understand the instinct is to look away in these circs. A man told me that in London they would put them off the bus and deal with it on the pavement, and the bus could go without delay. He had moved out to Marsby when he retired and his wife died. He tells me of Barnet, where he lived. Well, you can get a much bigger house in Marsby for the same money, but the place is not quite so lively. Later I saw him on the bus, gesturing right and left and talking, as if to another person.
The police took away both lads, and we drove off, fifteen minutes late. Getting off, several people thanked and congratulated the driver.