Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bring me Sunshine

Last Friday, I experienced the quietest walk of my life. We headed for the local park and found it completely empty. No kids at the play park, no youths behind the community centre, no one vandalising the swings, not even the book reader standing on his walkway overlooking the park. There were no dog walkers, mothers with buggies, cyclists or moving cars. It felt like I'd turned a corner and found myself in an episode of The Twilight Zone: the last man on earth, plus his dog. 

I was struggling to explain it: England playing Sweden on the telly? Nah. The smirry rain? Not heavy enough to deter dog walkers. Had we missed a curfew announcement? Was there a bomb? Were Macdonalds offering free happy meals? Then I noticed the police car, a 'black' police car, parked at the foot of the hill near the community centre. I'm not sure what a black police car usually does but it looked serious. Just a subtle silver 'Strathclyde Police' logo on its sides and bonnet to stamp its authority. Could this be the reason the entire population of Morar had skedaddled: invisible Darth Vader police en-'force'-ing a no go zone?

With no one around to tell us otherwise, we just enjoyed having the park to ourselves. We played ball for so long I ended up collapsing in a heap to catch my breath, tongue fully extended out the side of my mouth. I barely had enough energy to walk up the hill but we had to because I'd pooped and that is where the nearest dog bin is. As we approached I noticed the first 'plod' in a reflective jacket standing behind 'Police Incident' tape, which had been tied to block off the entire road beyond the hedge. More tape and a female bobby (a bobbie?) were covering Green Road at the junction. Was that the scent of blood I could smell? Was that why no one was around? Had there been a murder?

I discovered later from the Scottish news that it had been a 'serious incident' that had brought out the bizzies. A shop worker had been the victim of an unprovoked attack (a stabbing), and was in a critical condition in the RAH. Witnesses were being sought. That was why the park was empty. None of the park regulars wanted to be questioned and had made themselves scarce. Trouble could make a new home elsewhere for a while.

Tonight, we returned to the scene to find a Police Incident Unit portakabin had been set up at the top of Cardell Road, a forensic tent sat in the shop forecourt and a couple of portaloos were parked on the pavement beside the dog bin. The road was still taped off but now directly across the road either side of the Sunshine newsagent. Two police men still monitored the location from the street, directing drivers round the diversion, scrutinising every passer by. Neighbours gossiped in low whispers on a street corner, not wanting to be overheard but desiring to share what little they'd discovered. There'd be no shouting between bedroom windows tonight. Did they fear their mobile phones were being tapped? 

In the park, small groups of young kids used the grass football pitch to play football for a change, because there were no older kids to scare them off and their witness statements would be inadmissible in court anyway, being too young. It seemed a much friendlier place, with honest people using it for its original purpose - a place to have fun: dog walkers exercising their dogs and children playing without causing damage. 

Does it really take a stabbing and a police presence to reintroduce civility, happiness and respect to a Paisley scheme? 

Bring me sunshine.