Friday, 27 June 2008

Silent Majority

Every now and again you get involved in something, and the knowledge you’ve done some good out weighs all of the mundane shite that comes your way.

Mrs Cohen is 86 years old. I don’t know what it is with old people – are they so glad to have reached that age that they need to tell everybody? Anyway she lives in a 60’s block and was one of the first tenants to move in. There are only four originals left now. She’s from another age, where there was respect and community spirit.

They didn’t have crack houses in her day. She now found herself living next door to one. I don’t think she knows what one is. Perhaps it’s good she doesn’t understand, she only hears the noise until the early hours and makes sure her door is locked. She’s scared of the murky figures hanging about but won’t call the police, not wanting to bother us.

I know it’s there and know how to deal with it. Day one in my new job, knock on the door and meet Mrs Cohen’s neighbour. She’s a drug addict who’s just had her kid taken away. She’s vulnerable but involved, so this one will take longer to sort out. I lay my cards out, play ball or you lose out in the long run darling. She says all the right things but I know nothing will change.

I start hanging about at the bottom of the block, that’s when I meet Mrs Cohen. We have a nice chat. She says how nice it is to see me. I ask what number she lives at and am surprised she hadn’t mentioned her neighbour to me. So I bring it up, she’s scared, and tells me she’s heard drugs are involved. “Wacky Baccy” is mentioned but that’s probably the only drug she’s heard of. I didn’t educate her in the ways of “licking the pipe”

It took a couple of months of hard paperwork graft and static patrols, but we got there in the end. One crack house closure order and an eviction later, the block was back to some normality. I caught up with Mrs Cohen by chance on a bus a couple of months later, and she was happy and smiling. She looked better and younger than before. She thanked me and this was a genuine thank you, a special one, because she really meant it.

That’s why I’m still walking the streets, for the silent majority.

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