Oh, the excitement of Brighton, where you just never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. Like, where you’ll be living, for instance, or who’s going to go crazy and get arrested on your street…
I mentioned in my last post that Jeremy and I had to move because our landlord was selling our flat. We found this out at the start of June and then spent two weeks trudging around to look at flats in various states of disrepair before finally settling on a nice-looking, top-floor flat just around the corner from where we live now. We still weren’t happy about leaving our old place, but we tried to be optimistic and make the best of a lousy situation.
We were all set to get the keys for our new place this past Tuesday. But on Monday—a month after being told we had to leave, and just 24 hours before we were going to sign the contract for our new flat—our current estate agent called and said, “By the way, the landlord has decided not to sell your place after all, so you can stay if you want.”
What followed was several hours of turmoil as Jeremy and I tried to figure out what we should do: move anyway, since that was what we were psychologically primed to do, or stay put and hope that the landlord didn’t change his mind again? After much weighing of the pros and cons, we decided to stay where we are for the time being. I still feel like our position here is quite tenuous, but at least we’re not facing the hassle of packing and moving.
Of course, I had started blowing off loads of household stuff when I thought we were moving. Dirty windows? Whatever. Lights out in the hallway? Who cares, we’re moving. Scuffed walls which need painting? Bah. But now that we’re not moving, I guess I actually have to deal with them.
We also still have to deal with the neighbors. Our immediate neighbors aren’t so bad, but recently a flat across the street from us has become a hotbed of strange goings-on. It started several weeks ago when a man in the basement flat decided to go out into the street one afternoon and shout at the top of his lungs to no one in particular. I kept an eye on him for a while, and when he started screaming that he wanted the police to come and arrest him, I decided to help him out by calling the police on him myself.
He had settled down by the time the police arrived, so after chatting with him a bit, the cops left and everything seemed to go back to normal. And I thought, “I’m glad I’m moving away from this nutcase.”
Everything was quiet until several days later, when Jeremy and I found ourselves witness to a major sting operation at the same flat. Police officers in full riot gear stormed the flat, the street was blocked off by detectives and countless police cars and vans, and Shouting Man was eventually taken away in handcuffs and ankle restraints.
I scanned the newspapers for days afterwards to try to find out what the story was, to no avail. I thought he might have been involved in a recent crackdown on drug dealers, but I don’t really know. Mostly, I was happy he was gone. And I also thought, “I’m glad I’m moving away from this nutcase’s flat.”
So this morning, as I was doing the dishes, there was some more shouting on the street. Jeremy looked out and asked me if it was the same guy as before, and when I put on my glasses, I saw that it was indeed him—and I was utterly dismayed, because this time around, I knew I wasn’t moving away from this nutcase after all.
After he shouted a bit more, he went back into his flat and I went back to the dishes. And a minute later, Jeremy said that he was back on the street with something in his hand.
That “something” turned out to be a rather large knife.
Jeremy ran for the phone, and as he called the police, we watched the guy prowl up and down the street with the knife—and then start to threaten passers-by with it. Jeremy managed to stay remarkably calm on the phone as he gave the 999 operator a running commentary on what we were seeing: “He’s chasing people down Waterloo Street…a police car’s shown up now…he’s running towards the police car…he’s—he’s jumped on top of the police car, he’s on top of the moving car…no, he’s not hurt…officers are getting out of another car …he’s fighting with them…he just attacked an officer, I think an officer’s been hurt…he’s down, he’s down, the officers have disabled him, they have him now…”
My own running commentary consisted entirely of “Run away!” (addressed to the passers-by) and “Fracking hell!” (except I didn’t actually say “fracking”). I just couldn’t believe the scene unfolding before me on this lovely Saturday morning. When I got out of bed this morning, the most pressing thing on my mind was what I would wear to a housewarming party I’m going to this afternoon; I certainly didn’t expect to be watching a madman with knife clinging onto the roof of a moving police car as terrified onlookers fled down the street.
Anywho, everything’s quiet again now. The crazy guy has been apprehended, the “POLICE LINE - DO NOT CROSS” tape has been removed from the road, and a detective just went into the flat across the street with a big bunch of empty evidence bags. Just a normal Saturday in Brighton, then.
N.B. For the benefit of friends and loved ones who have read this—or Jeremy’s post—and are now a nervous wreck thinking we live in the Brighton equivalent of South Central LA: don’t worry, it’s really okay.
Yes, we get rowdy people on the street, and yes, we’ve had to call the police sometimes, but something like this is really an exception. We were not in any danger, and though the crazy guy was chasing people with the knife, he appeared to be more intent on threatening them than actually injuring them.
No one was seriously injured—not the police officers who apprehended him, and not even the guy himself, who was led away in serious restraints this time with nothing more than a scraped knee. The bad guy has been taken away (for good this time, I suspect), and the good guys—that’s us—are now going to tiki party, where the guests will be regaled with this tale of a most bizarre Saturday morning.