Monday 24 March 2014

Plain nasty

It isn't often I categorise people as plain nasty. Idle, yes. Stupid, yes. Highly cretinous, sometimes. But just nasty? Rarely, but this is the only description for some truly lovely people who chose to drive their caravans onto Wanstead Flats on Sunday afternoon. Their behaviour towards their fellow man (me) was so objectionable it beggars belief.

I was on a walk with the kids, otherwise known as Mission Wheatear. Successful, and returning towards home, we were forced to walk right past where the convoy of Irish travellers had just parked up, presumably having chopped the lock off the access gate on Centre Road.  I had thought that they might leave a guy with his children alone, being family people themselves. Unfortunately I had my camera with me, and that's where it all started to go wrong, and, as I now know, these people have different social values to me, and the presence of children is of no significance whatsoever. Theirs included.

As we walked home, one of them accosted me, demanded my binoculars. Right. Then wanted my camera. With children clutching at me, I politely declined, said I was out for a walk and was off home now. But you can afford to buy a new camera. Very true, but not relevant, so I refused again. By now there was a little more interest, and so the next thing I know a green Transit van was driving alongside me. Show me your camera. I want to see the last five photos you've taken. No. Though here's one of them if any readers are interested. 

Hope to get closer as the season progresses.....
I kept walking, kids keeping close. This is my land now, came the menacing voice from the van still slowly driving alongside. Sure. Give me that camera or I'll drive over the lot of yous. A new low to intimidate and threaten a man and his three small children. The amazing thing about this is that his own family was in the van with him, there was definitely a woman in the passenger seat. In all the excitement I don't recall if there were children in it or not, but if there were, what hope have they got? But what a way to behave, who the hell do these people think they are to threaten a person and his kids, one of whom by now was crying. I have never met a person like this, well, maybe those four muggers a few years back, but that was a different social situation. I'd love to know what rights I have as the person on the end of this threatening behaviour. None, probably.

When I got home (all in one piece, and with a camera - people should know that will be the last thing I ever give up), I looked up two things. Firstly, the number for the City of London Police, who got a call straight away, and secondly, the procedure on how to move Travellers off sites that they have illegally occupied. I should have guessed it, but the first internet hits were all about the rights of Travellers and how they could play the law to resist leaving.  Amazing. I am not saying these people should not have rights, but equally, I don't feel that the driver of that particular van deserves a whole lot of legal protection. If there are any people with legal knowledge reading, I would love to know what my rights are when a man in a van, driving off the road and on a public open space, threatens to run me and my family over. Can he be prosecuted for threatening violence against minors? Against a six year old? I'd love to know as I am fuming. How dare he. How dare he frighten my children close to their own home, on the very playing field that they learned to ride their bikes on. 

So, genuinely horrible. Plain nasty. I wonder what would have happened had I been on my own? Would I still have my camera? Maybe not. Anyway, I'm not happy, as you can probably tell. As I enter my fourth decade on this planet, the observed behaviour of my fellow citizens has hit a new low. As has been noted on this blog before, I sometimes come across as less than sympathetic to unfortunate people. In this instance, you can think what you like, as these particular people are scum and this is truly what I think. Vile, deplorable and indefensible. I feel sorry for their children, but how dare they threaten mine.

The postscript to this event is that the Met turned up that same afternoon and turfed them off, and they only left behind a small amount of rubbish, rather than the immense piles of rubble and mattresses that might have started to appear after a few days. Is it any wonder Travellers are ostracised if this is how they behave towards people? There is a whole lot to possibly explore here, about what has led to the current situation, what the options are that are fair for everyone. But I am in no mood to do so. Any credibility these groups may have has evaporated as far as I am concerned. Outraged of Wanstead? That's me. 


  1. They get thru life threating and abusing - intimidation is the name of the game and they think they are untouchable. I'm amazed at how little 'travelling' they actually do.....

    Laurie -

  2. Jesus Christ, Jono, that's horrible. Can't believe anyone could say that with your kids in tow! And WTF? You can bet if you'd done anything even remotely similar you'd have had at least one night in a police cell! Unbelievable, really sorry you had to go through that.

  3. I have had similar expieriences over the years Jono, starting when I was 12 years old, which you know must have been along time ago, I was fishing at the then humpback bridge at passingford with a mate when a gang of traveller kids who were parked in a layby near the airfield (quieter then) demanded our rods and everything or we were going in the river, you can imagine how scared we were and quickly handed over, never forgotten it. Times don't change much.

  4. That's just insane... their poor kids have no chance at all. I can't believe that happened, especially when you were with your kids. Well done for keeping cool, you showed a great example to your children and got them safely away.