It has been 5 days since something happened to me by the allotment. Today I saw a nurse at my doctor’s surgery who wanted to leave the stitches in for another 2 days so I will be revisiting the surgery on Thursday.
Last Thursday evening I cycled to the allotment. Every day at this season, I cycle to the allotment at night. I used to live within 2 minutes walk. Since I moved in February it takes up to 20 minutes each way by bike or much the same by car. I always need to water the greenhouse and a few pots, and there have been a lot of Victoria plums to pick.
As I was pottering about pulling a few weeds and transplanting one or two seedlings into gaps, a tall man a bit more than 30 started hanging around talking. He was inside the locked confines of the site and said his mate with a plot had let him in. He was either drunk or drugged or both, and uncoordinated but kept asking about the rent and what was what.
The time came to go home and he followed me to the gate so I asked if he was waiting for his mate, or leaving, so he came out. Wary as I was of this man, I was obliged to stand the bike against the fence to allow me to lock the gate, and sure enough he grabbed it and started off on it. Now I am quicker than my age might suggest and he was slow, partly owing to his inebriated state and probably not fit state of body, and I managed to grab him by the shoulder and pull him off. He started to try to throw punches but none of them really reached, and I extricated myself and my bike, told him to back off and cycled away.
Sadly I realised a minute or so down the road that my keys were still in the allotment lock. I had to turn back and by then he was at the end of the alley by the road. He saw me, started accusing me of stealing his bike, and he tried to throw some more punches. I ducked down to the ground to avoid a punch and got covered in seeds from the path-side, but also noticed my hand was covered with blood.
By then a helpful young woman in a car had stopped and my former neighbours, living just across came out. The young man eventually went off down the road and I called the police on my mobile. They arrived very soon, and noted answers to all the details I asked for. I assumed my hand just needed cleaning up, and I might well have just gone home, but the better counsel of the two police officers and the neighbours prevailed, and when I got to Clacton Minor Injuries Unit, after wiping the wound clean it was clear I needed stitches, and my mate whom I called took me to Colchester. After a lengthy wait, and a relaxed session with a Nigerian house doctor and a nurse from Kerula and another from eastern Europe I finally went home with 6 stitches, some antibiotics and a tetanus jab.
So everyone in this story was first class but one. The country has at least ten good people for every one bad. This young man was typical of many who either stay here and don’t really work, or are sent here because they can’t, and housing here includes some cheap places. That story could be the topic of another blog.
By Saturday, I noted my shoulder was sore, the nurse said it was some internal bruising, and of course I have had enough scrapes in the past that I ought to have expected this.
In all the twenty eight years I lived close to the allotment I had no trouble, just a deliberate scratch on my car when it was fresh. I actually moved away partly because the area I lived was steadily becoming dirtier and rougher. The build-up of cans between my old house and the allotment and between my old house and Lidl is noticeable.
There is a tendency for people here with little to do, to take low level drugs, and I think they are too often left to get on with it , as it keeps them quiet and largely out of sight. There used to be a regular conglomeration of faded people in the allotment alley, who would buy things from someone who parked a car up the road. The notable observation was that they had an enormous age range, just individuals united by each going home to some bedsit and taking something. If they ate anything it was likely to be all day breakfasts in one of many such places in the town. What hope is there for them?
I deliberately did not write this straight away because I don’t want anyone reading to be unnecessarily concerned. I wanted to write it to inspire us to try to speak up positive solutions and not get jaded by forces and trends that appear to be out of our control.