At the penultimate bus stop on my way home from the city of Cambridge today (the English city that is), I stared out a rain splattered window and watched at least three policemen climb aboard. I was on the top deck and I heard them ask the driver if they could look around.
I looked on with interest as a tall, dark, bearded policeman clambered his way up the narrow stairs, systematically bumping metal on metal with every step. He was quite handsome and for some reason I imagined he wore expensive Eau de toilette when he wasn't in uniform. As he reached the top, directly opposite me, I watched him adjust, with one hand, a long cylindrical metal device so it would stop hitting the railing. I noticed he was only using one hand because the other was resting on a MASSIVE gun. I want to say semiautomatic weapon, but in reality, I have no idea what it was and I'm not Googling it because I'm sure I must already be on a watch list for some of the things I Googled when researching my contribution to Girls with Guns; Hammersmith.
Now, unless you're from Tasmania (or other parts, I'm not discriminating) you will understand that to be less than a metre away from a gun-slinging police officer is rather unnerving. I'm not a big fan of the bullet-shooting-type weapons, or many others for that matter and I knew the sooner the guns left the bus, the better I'd feel.
Then I began to wonder what sort of person were these officers looking for? In the UK normal police officers don't carry guns. It occurred to me that they may not be looking for a normal person. There was potentially an armed and dangerous felon on my bus. I was in the countryside in the middle of bloody England, one stop away from the quaint little market town I live in. Who dare be dangerous and travelling on my bus! And then I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, thank goodness this man-mountain police officer has a gun!
I walked home from my stop in a daze of confusion.
Am I a pacifist? Maybe sometimes and maybe not. Do I think the world could do with less guns? Of course. Make love not war. Be a lover not a fighter. Bring back flower power. Do they have a place? That's certainly something to think about.
- London underground maps
- Suicide bombers and their traits
- Weapons MI5 use
- London underground station statistics
I'm sure there were many more, but that's a fairly accurate summary. If I suddenly disappear and return having written a novel about a wrongly accused terrorist in which I share a painfully real account of waterboarding, you'll all know what happened to me.
Hammersmith is teamed up with two other stories from two amazing authors. Carsen Taite thrills us with Bow and Arrow and Ali Vali brings it home with Hell Fire.
Girls with Guns will be available from Bold Strokes Books in early April