Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Am I paranoid?

NED, in Glasgow speak, stands for (non-educated delinquent), or, as Masooma and I would in our Shields English/apna style (Jimmy Jummy!), you have to know us, or else live in Scotland to get it!
Any way, Neds can be a real problem in UK cities (in England they are called chavs I believe? Only, don’t ask me what Chav stands for: I don’t remember and will feel like a lemon by googling it!), Glasgow is sadly known for Neds, and we are having a serious ned problem in my apartment block right now! I live on the ground floor of a 4-story building. I moved here 5 years ago, and despite it not being one of the better areas of town, by the grace of Allah (SWT) I faced little trouble. My building is located right next to a local train station, and opposite a few busy general stores, so there is little opportunity for trouble makers to congregate. My neighbours were pretty fine: the apartments are mostly private lets, so there is a fast turn around of tenants, but the majority of them are single people like me, or else couples going about there business, so the building is mostly quiet. There is a council owned apartment opposite mine, and the tenants have been (difficult), some of the time, but overall I can’t complain. Like most blocks around here, we have a secure entry system: and the main door is kept locked: those wishing to visit or enter have to buzz the apartment they are trying to contact in order to be admitted. This was one of the main reasons I bought this apartment: I didn’t like the idea that just any one could come wondering in to the building, especially given that most of us are out working and the building is pretty empty and dead till 6/7 at night!

So, this was all fine and good, till a couple of months back: our refuse collection team started hassling us about how they couldn’t get in to collect rubbish during the day because there was no one to open the door. The postmen had the same gripe, as did other utility staff. So, on the day the bin crew were coming, one of the residents would leave the front door on the latch so they could come and go without bothering us. Whats the problem I hear you cry? Well, they stopped locking the main door before they left! And then, before we knew it, folk were leaving the door on the latch all day, every day! And new tenants coming in thought this was a matter of course, and wouldn’t lock it either! We have a Somali family living above us, who seem mystified by the entry system and think the only way to get in when the door is locked is to scream to the top flat where they live while kicking in the door simultaneously! So when they discovered the latch, we all heaved a sigh of relief: that is, only till the ned thing happened. I’d heard there were a few undesirables lurking around our building, but I didn’t encounter them till yesterday: a group of about 6 wondered in to our building and commandeered the main stairs for the afternoon: laughing, drinking, taking drugs, shouting, swearing and every so often breaking in to song and drumming (seriously, they did have a drum with them!), all this against a God awful din from mobiles playing a mixture of rave and gangster rap! Given that they were camping out right next to my house, my computer room was filled with a sickening smell of hash smoke and putrid alcohol! I felt sick, angry but above all, I was terrified! What if I’d been going out that day: I surely would have had to cancel: there is no way a blind woman in hijaab could pass such a group: that is, if she wanted to remain alive at the other end!
After 4-hours of them raging chaos, they left, leaving a trail of crisp bags, bottles, hash ends and even syringes in their wake!
I was amazed by how unsettled all this made me feel, I was angry with them, with my careless neighbours, but above all the fear, the imprisonment that such potential behaviour would result in for me was too much to take. I first thought of paying my neighbours a visit, stating my case and attempting through love and anger, to convey all possible ramifications of this should it develop, and above all, how significantly it would limit my movements should it escalate! Then I began to analyse: why would they single out our block? Out of all the buildings on my street? After all, not all of them had entry systems after all, and our building is a good way along from the end of the road seen as the problem end (the lower class end). I pondered some more: the apartment opposite has been silent for the past 2 days, no noise, no movements: and one of the neds did look incredibly similar to a relative of theirs (I know, I know! All neds look the same: …, but still!). Eventually, I opted for no action: I didn’t want to be singled out as a nuisance myself, especially if one of our neighbours is related to the mob, or if others don’t see this disturbance as much of a problem (we have lots of maintenance and other assorted discomforts with our building, but few take any action about them!).

I remained troubled by it all evening, mulling it over and torn between acting or hiding out. Eventually, I fell in to an uneasy sleep, only to wake up screaming 4 hours later as I thought I could hear our door being kicked in! shaking and reading doorood, I shot out of bed, only to find nothing was happening!
I hate these useless teenaged drains on society for making me feel like a hostage in my own home! I worry for our community and future generations and pray like hell that I don’t raise such apologies for human beings when I have my own children! With a clearer head this morning, I opted to write a short letter and circulate to all residents advising them to be mindful of our security: that we all have a collective responsibility to ourselves and one another to keep our homes safe, and securing doors and the rest of our building is a big part of that. Today I do wish to go out, and can only pray they don’t return, and that the tranquillity of our building and the harmony between our neighbours does not single us out as easy targets for thieves and other forms of antisocial behaviour, oh the joys of communal living!

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