A Typical London Argument

The altercation, as transcribed exactly by your correspondent, with neither editing, censor nor commentary, occurred between three persons at the Docklands Light Rail station in Shadwell, a district in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London. It is the belief of the writer that what follows is the direct realisation and representational analogue to those most base and cruel features of human experience in this world . As such, it is also rather entertaining.

The platform, located on the first floor above street level at this particular venue, is accessible by three means only; a person can use one of the two sets of stairs or they can take the elevator. This particular event took place in and around the elevator on the station’s ground floor at mid-day on a warm Saturday – an especially active time of week due in large part to its location beside Watney Street Market – a focal point of the Tower Hamlets community. The individuals in question consisted of two very different but equally doomed lower income females of recognisably British descent and one male of indeterminate nationality. All three were strangers to one another. Your correspondent arrived at the scene to find one of the ladies – a severely overweight and clearly unwell looking woman (we are talking a grey skinned and greasy haired mess of an unfortunate creature. One that would draw only pity from even the sternest and most rejecting of hearts), aged 50-60 years – seated in the elevator on a wheeled assisted mobility frame while the second lady – aged 30-40 years, wearing a nylon track-suit and holding a half-spent box of Bic lighters (which she had presumably been selling to passersby) – stood with her right foot between her foe’s malfunctioning and swollen legs and her torso pressed taut against the outer side of the lift’s entranceway thus preventing the automatic doors from closing.

  • Can someone phone the police, please. This woman has just assaulted me. What happened was I was smoking here, yeah.
  • And blowing it in my face.
  • No I wasn’t. And then I’ve got a blood clot in my leg. The camera there has seen that she has assaulted me three times with her walking stick: she’s hit me with her walking stick three times.
  • No I haven’t.
  • It’s on the camera. Can you just let me in the lift please?
  • No, because you’re covered in smoke. I can’t breathe.
  • Yeah, but you’ve just assaulted me.
  • I’m going to need an ambulance in a minute because my chest is going. Can someone call an ambulance for me please? I’m an asthmatic.
  • You know what; I’m not letting her up.
  • It’s a no smoking area, for a start.
  • What? I took two puffs off of a fag.
  • Well, it’ll be on camera.
  • You just assaulted me.
  • I’m trying to go. She won’t let me go. Her foot is in the lift.
  • She assaulted me.
  • You assaulted me. A cigarette is assault! I shouldn’t have to put up with it. Leave me alone. Can you get her away so I can get up in the lift!
  • No because you’re not getting away with assault. You just assaulted me, I want the police.
  • You assaulted me.
  • Someone find the police, please. Because I smoked a cigarette there, that’s my butt there, look, she assaulted me with her fucking thing three times. I want the old bill. You know what? I ain’t havin’ this, I want the police. Please someone just get the police to see that she’s just hit me three times with her thing. Only for smoking a cigarette. You threatened down the phone that you was gonna hurt me. Someone just phone 999. I was smoking a cigarette, right, and the woman started beating me up with her fucking thing.
  • I didn’t.
  • And then she threatened me on the phone.
  • You think you’re funny, holding up the lift?
  • No it’s her; she’s beaten me up with her crutch.
  • I’m in a wheelchair
  • Why don’t you let the lift go? You’ve got people waiting upstairs with prams.
  • I’m so sorry.
  • That’s not gonna help them go down stairs.
  • But it’s okay for her to beat me up with her crutch?
  • Listen, if you leave away and let her go up…
  • No. It ain’t about that.
  • What is it about?
  • If someone beats you up with a crutch…
  • You were smoking in a no-smoking area.
  • No I wasn’t! I was smoking there.
  • Look, can you just move away from the lift?
  • I’ve got a blood clot in my leg here!
  • I don’t give a fuck.

The police soon arrived, followed shortly by a number of ambulances. They took the old grey one to the hospital with sirens blaring. The young woman was familiar to the police and they strongly advised that she now let the matter rest. Even with the assault on camera, this would never go further than primary investigation, let alone getting anywhere near a court room. At that point, your correspondent swiftly realised that he had been hanging around for quite a merry-good while now and that he was not in the humour for inviting unnecessary police attention of his own. He brought the coffees that he had originally left his lie-in to purchase an hour previously and headed home to Herself who immediately asked why he had been gone for so long. To which he replied that she would not believe what he had just seen at the train station and that she should sit down and listen to the story he had to tell about his day so far. He cooked breakfast as he spoke and they drank their coffees together before getting to work on a story of their own.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. howardat58 says:

    I just love it !

  2. mbaldelli says:

    your… cousins… on the other side of the pond here in New England would have escalated to the police pulling both of them off to the local lock-up for at least 24 hours, before there would be a hearing about smoking and assault.

    Still it amazes me nonetheless. Thanks for the story.

  3. Ah – life in London….

  4. piggie4299 says:

    There is so much that makes me believe in the goodness of humanity. Then there is this… People are stupid.

  5. A vital person vitalizes the life around himself (herself). This is what came to my mind on every post that I have read on this blog. I hope you intend to keep this up!

  6. Excellent commentary. Thank you

  7. Grace says:

    This is such a vivid story I feel I was there! How entertaining. Please continue to post frequently. As you share your journeys, I feel I go with you. What inspiration, how thoroughly I am enjoying your blog.

  8. I am not sure if I am meant to laugh out loud at the stupidity of it all. I am not a Londoner, so I can only ‘imagine’ what that must have been like to stumble upon such idiocy. Well done as always. I love your conversational writing style.

  9. awtytravels says:

    Perhaps it’s because I’m in West London (veeery West, let’s say closer to Slough than to Knightsbridge) but I struggle to believe that this went down without not so much of an “innit?”!

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