This post isn’t really writing related, game related or even about esoterica. This is just about something that happened to me last night and I thought it was worth sharing as… catharsis? Advice? A warning? Who knows. It’s a thing. That happened.
I got back to Crystal Palace station at about 11:15 last night, having been up in north London at a friend’s flat. I do this once a week most weeks, and followed my usual route. I was first out of the barriers, winning my imaginary race. From the station I normally cut up through Ledrington Road, a darkish street with houses on one side and a bit of grass on the other. I’ve often thought it would be a good spot for a mugging and am always on the look out. Why continue to use that street? Good question!
There was a chap walking away from me towards the main road about two thirds of the way up the street. A third of the way up the street were two more people following him, and I instantly felt like they were gearing up to mug him.
I accelerated to make them aware more people were around to save the chap from harm. As soon as they saw me, the two lurkers crossed away. Job done, I thought.
I reached the main road and normally walk up the slightly darker side which has the park off to the right. Mindful of the potential would-be muggers I instead crossed to the more brightly lit residential side. There were a couple of cars about, but not many. I didn’t realise but the muggers had crossed behind me.
I saw a shadow from the streetlights approaching on my left hand side and sped up a little more, though didn’t think that anything would happen on the main road.
One of them brushed up on my left hand side, the other crossed to the far side of the road and kept pace. The one on my left told me, in a quiet, measured voice, that we were going to take a walk and not to do anything stupid or he’d stab me. I didn’t see a knife, but his hand hovered over his pocket.
I politely rebuffed him, mindful that Derren Brown had once foiled muggers (or so he has said) with mind-games – ignoring the mugging and making polite, intense conversation about something unrelated. I told him what a nice evening I’d been having and a little about the film The Insider which I’d watched round at my friend’s. He re-iterated his threat. Derren Brown 1, me nil.
I saw a couple on the other side of the road, and crossed. There was no traffic. The mugger was still brushed up against me, but allowed me to cross – possibly he didn’t want to make it look like something untoward was going on.
I approached the couple and told them that the chap was trying to mug me, and asked if I could walk with them. They seemed unsurprisingly perturbed – I imagine I had a manic glint in my eye from the furious politeness I was maintaining. I repeated myself and the bloke said yes, he was happy for me to walk with them.
I thought that might be it, that now we were a group of three and, at this stage, half way up the hill towards the bustling Crystal Palace triangle, the muggers would be put off.
I was wrong.
He threatened to stab my new friends – a man and woman in their 20s (I’m horrible at guessing ages, fyi) – unless they backed off. They didn’t back off and took on the same polite tone I had with the mugger.
We crossed to the more brightly lit side of the street, and the mugger crossed with us, telling me that he was going to take me round the corner. There was a hefty chap with headphones in at the bus stop, but I thought better of trying to enlist him too – he seemed quite young.
We reached the top of the hill, and I let the couple lead just slightly in case they were going to turn off – they didn’t, so we were now heading towards pubs and chicken shops. Across the street was a pub I know well, which was still open and had a number of punters sitting outside.
“Do you know what,” I said, “I really fancy a pint, shall we go for a drink in The Westow?” The couple agreed and we all crossed, mugger included, then headed into the pub. As soon as we were in the ‘beer garden’ at the front, the mugger sloped off around the corner towards the bus station. His mate who’d been keeping watch had presumably disappeared in that direction too.
Pint ordered. Police called. Mugging averted.
Huge thanks due to Paul and Sophie, who’d been out on a date having known each other 2 weeks. And to The Westow, and the Met.
What have I learnt?
If he’d asked me to hand over my wallet/phone/whatever in the first instance I probably would have done. I don’t know what his plan was if he did ‘get me round a corner’. In mugging, as in writing, clarity of purpose is essential.
Also, and more importantly: don’t go down streets you think are good spots for a mugging.