I have lived in London for nearly 10 years. On Friday 2nd July, I witnessed something I had never seen before in London, England or even the world….
I was sitting on a deckchair in Hyde Park with my wife and a friend and we were sipping beers as the sun disappeared out of sight. The singer Pink happened to be playing live as part of the Wireless Festival but we were happy to listen from afar on the other side of the fence. As the show ended, thousands of people headed towards the nearest London Underground station (Marble Arch). We were in the crowd. We noticed up ahead that there were several police officers and they had closed a gate to stop the tube becoming overcrowded. I noticed a voice over a loudspeaker getting louder as we neared the gate.
Stood on a platform which resembled the London equivalent of a Baywatch lifeguard tower was a policeman with a megaphone. He was not only smiling but also telling jokes and giving comebacks to people who were being rude. I couldn’t add the video clip due to obscenities from the crowd but here’s a taste:
CROWD MEMBER 1 : (abuse)
POLICEMAN: “I think your Mum’s picking you up around the corner in a minute, sir”
CROWD MEMBER 2: (more abuse)
POLICEMAN: “How much for the tickets? Yeah, I saw her for nothing as well.”
CROWD MEMBER 3: (incoherent nonsense)
“I’m really busy. Can I ignore you in the morning?”
CROWD MEMBER 4: (a noise resembling a dying walrus)
POLICEMAN: “Sir. When you’ve got more hair, have a go!”
A lot of people have a negative perception of the police. Their typical response to people screaming abuse at them would be to tighten their stiff upper lips and react accordingly. Here was a linchpin that not only did the opposite of what you would expect but in doing so connected with people and actually earned respect. Suddenly people saw the idiots in the crowd for what they were – idiots. They were cheering for the policeman because he dared to be different. There was also the sneaking suspicion that he was a part-time comedian!
When was the last time you saw somebody doing something that changed your view of them?
Who were they and what were they doing?
If you have any photos or videos, I would love to see them.
Image – Matt Groening