September 17, 2016
August 27, 2016
The Catholic church around the corner is dedicated to a Portuguese peasant girl whose visions of the Virgin Mary prompted the following declaration of her faith:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.
These words are addressed not only to God himself, nor are they simply an intercession on behalf of those who lack faith in him; the girl’s prayer is also a personal statement of her self-belief.
Our Father who art no more nor ever was.
They would say that, wouldn’t they? I mean the teenagers who’ve been hanging round The Stow, the post-war shopping precinct in Harlow, chalking up plentiful police reports of anti-social behaviour (month after month, and for so long the original cohort must have moved on and grown up by now).
Surely they would say something like this, if disposed to speak of the faith and the self-belief that’s been disposed of (behind their backs, without them knowing, despite them trying to appear all-knowing all the time).
Are you kidding? Is this a gang of juvenile Kierkegaards, struggling for belief in a God of Uncertainty. Nothing could be further from theological discourse than the killing of 40-year-old Polish factory worker, Arkadiusz ‘Arek’ Jozwik, who died in hospital two days after he went out for takeaway pizza….and took a blow to the head instead. The only Sorens are the ones who were arrested.
Or, maybe that’s how they vented it – their aggravated sense of loss, and hating themselves for failing to locate, locate, locate anything other than their own paltry existence.
Chunky chap, low centre of gravity – can’t have been a complete pushover. Four years in the meat factory since he came over from Poland, whereas you’re not sure you’d last four minutes before running a mile.
Was there a moment of shock when it came to you?
A sharp intake, the rasping breath of realisation?
Or simply relief at surviving your rookie shifts,
Then boredom and danger cocktailed into queasy routine.
So you wanted to be a police officer.
Protect and serve; defend and provide for.
If it’s not changing the world, you said to yourself,
At least I’ll be putting the bad guys away.
Instead all you Blues were recruited to the war on drugs.
In designated neighbourhoods your new assignment is to enter
As many perps as possible into the judicial process, if only
For possession, leaving little time for traditional policing priorities
Such as catching killers. In these districts nine out of 10 killings
Now remain untried and unpunished, unless you count
The unlawful acts of recrimination which have all but replaced
The intervention of the state in the expectations of local people.
Of the three guys on the corner, you’re the only one
That ain’t got his own. Dealer knows his job. Users, too,
Have a particular role to play. But you’re the little lost boy
Whose dotted line went off in unexpected directions.
Within your ranks there’s a hard core who might have done it
Anyway, at any time. But the not knowing who you are,
Not exactly sure what or who you’re there for
Must have been a factor in some of your folks not knowing
How to react, therefore emptying the magazine as if that means
Rubbing out a few pages instead of tearing into the flesh and bone
Of a fellow human being. Who knows whether all those ID checks would have
Gone so badly wrong if the policeman’s lot had not been re-cast without telling him?