Stealing wheels

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Wednesday 21 January 2004 9.04am

If you happen to live in Leathermarket Court and heard a commotion in Leathermarket Street around 10.30pm on Tuesday night, why didn't you come and help me.

A white male, age 40 ish, 5'8" tall, medium build, short dark hair, was attempting to steal the wheels from a parked car. When I attempted to stop him he resisted and a struggle ensued. My wife was screaming for help and, guess what, no-one came.

Forget your discussions about the quality of latte, where's the community that everyone tells me about?

Wednesday 21 January 2004 9.30am
i would have helped.....

Wednesday 21 January 2004 10.35am
have gotten into a lot of trouble in the past for doing something rash and unconsidderd such as involving myself in bust-up... but I didn't hear you... Nice one... don't stop, don't become one of the majority that walk by...

Wednesday 21 January 2004 10.36am
I would have helped, or at least would have looked and done what I thought was the best thing. I couldn't have ignored it.

A 'sense of community' is something, sadly, which has petered out over recent years - and I'm also sad to say, Niall, that it isn't just in London that this problem prevails.

I come from Berkshire, and even though a fair amount of neighbouring houses aren't too near each other (big gardens or plots of land), I always found that everyone looked out for each other, and kept an eye on each other's property. I figured that, when I left Mum's and moved into a small apartment block, this sense of community would be heightened. I was wrong.

Like cats and dogs, humans seem to want to stamp their authority, and mark their territory. My neighbours played loud music, blanked me in the hallway, smoked in non-smoking communal areas, and dumped their rubbish where it shouldn't be. A vicious circle kicks in, and most people, full of their own importance, rather than trying to break the chain, strive for payback and drive a wedge into the 'sense of community' that should be there.

Even where I live now, the lack of 'community spirit' is obvious. 95% of people are happy to complain about an item of furniture dumped outside their property, but only 5% are willing to move it to the rubbish enclosure. Unfortunately, this means 95% of people now probably wouldn't think twice about dumping rubbish themselves. As part of the 5%, I'm fully aware that moving other people's crap isn't my job, but I have to do it 'cos no-one else will, and my upbringing leads me to believe that other people, like me, would prefer to live in a decent, tidy and safe area.

So, Niall, I wouldn't take it personally that no-one came to help you. I suspect that to 95% of people, you were just another neighbour in the street making a fuss over nothing. Unfortunately, your 5% wasn't around.

I only work in London, but it seems to me that between 8.30am and 6pm London is 95% full of people who think that they are more important than the next person - that they have to get on the train before you, that they have to get in the sandwich shop queue before you, and that they deserve a better latte in a better café than you. Yes, it's petty and shallow, but then again, those 95% probably commute home then find that piece of furniture dumped on their doorstep, and they'll get payback in the City tomorrow...

Rant over. Noting upsets me more than ignorance Niall - I'm with you on this one.

Post edited (21 Jan 04 10:38)
Wednesday 21 January 2004 11.01am
Well said James... I, too, am with you on this.

It does my head in seeing people push past the elderly at stations, or pretend to read their paper and not acknowledge that there's an 85 year old stood next to them who could do with having that seat on the bus / tube.

On my first week in London, in '97, I saw an elderly woman collapse at a bus stop in Brixton. Her husband was with her and naturally was distressed. I ran across the road to help and stopped passers by asking to borrow a mobile to call an ambulance. People told me they were running late or had to get to work... even a man in a suit with a mobile said he didn't have time.
Eventually I ran into the road and stopped a bus and the driver radioed for an ambulance. I went to hospital with them and the old lady died. I will never forget that day and to be honest, it doesn't appear to ahve got any better.

Everyone believes their time is more important than the next person. I get sick of people barging past a woman trying to carry a pushchair down the steps on the tube while trying to manage with two little kids. Everyone in London is busy, but let none of us kid ourselves that we are "that busy" that we can't look out for others. This SE1 forum is the only example of community spirit that i have encountered int he last 7 years, and it's heartwarming to see.
Wednesday 21 January 2004 12.15pm
I know. I agree. This forum has shown great community spirit and the fact that it has shows up how lacking it is everywhere else. Hopefully the more this stuff is discussed here the more people will be moved to help in the future.

I once saw a man collapse in the road next to what is now The Hartley and as he fell a woman walked slowly past with her shopping. She was slightly embarrassed as I ran past her to the phone box to call the ambulance but it seemed only briefly as she kept walking. The man was very obviously having a fit and I didn't know what to do but I don't understand how or why you would do nothing.

The situations where intervention might be dangerous are few and far between as mostly you're dealing with either ignorance or small time opportunist criminals who aren't interested in confrontation. I always intervene and I have never come to harm. Not once and I've lived in SE1 for 20 years. There is no excuse.

I wish I'd been there Niall. I know it must have felt like you're the only one but there are others out here who'd have stepped in with you.
Wednesday 21 January 2004 12.40pm
I recently had the unpleasant experience of being on the receiving end of threatening behaviour, and the passers by just treated it with amusment. As I walked on the pavement near Borough tube station a young guy on a bike sped around the corner and I instinctively put up my arm to protect myself as he brushed past. I walked on to go into the newsagents, then realised he had followed me in, where he shoved his face at mine, accused me of hitting out at him and threatened to "cut me up". This verbal abuse continued as I walked out of the shop [the staff of which had melted away behind the counter]. I think the only thing that brought a halt to all this was that I didn't respond in any way, then my assailant realised he'd left his bike dumped on the pavement and was no doubt concerned it would be nicked. He pedalled off, presumably well hyped up for his next victim. Passers by seemed to think this was all quite funny - but I don't think they were keeping out of it because they thought it was a lovers tiff!
Wednesday 21 January 2004 3.01pm
I hope you dont still use that shop. I certainly wouldn't if it happened to me and I would tell them so too.
Wednesday 21 January 2004 3.45pm
I don't blame them - probably thinking ahead wanting to avoid any reprisals. [The guy who used to work there a few years ago kept a baseball bat under the counter!] The people who 'passed by on the other side' in the incidents mentioned above are demonstrating a[selfish?] sense of self-preservation, and straighforward fear of the unknown consequences of getting involved.
Wednesday 21 January 2004 3.48pm
Yeah - and to a degree I can understand the reasons people don't get involved - I couldn't ignore it, that's for sure. But it is a fine line, sometimes it's the same fear and adrenaline that scares you on one occasion that draws you in on another.
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