28 June 2010

Blood and Sand

Sunday afternoon. Si’s mum and dad were down the beach hut. It was the day of Oskar’s birthday. The cake had been made specially and with love; candles, all that lemon creaminess and so moist to boot. When the candles were lit a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday rang in the air along the sun-baked beach. It was the hottest day of the year. Whitstable was bursting with life. Oskar was embarrassed, of course, but blew out the candles anyway. Everyone cheered. What a great day to be 13 years old. Si wanted to watch the England Germany debacle on the big screen in ‘The Green Machine’, the Brewery Bar, but Oskar wanted to watch the impending fiasco in at home on the living room projector; so that’s what they did.

Earlier on, on Saturday night, the police officer was going; “We don’t want 300 of ‘that lot’, if you know what I mean?”, he gestures his thumb and cocks his head towards ‘The Green Machine’, “…coming down all pissed up crashing your BBQ. Do we…?”

“No, we don’t, but there is actually an old school hip hop and breaks thing on there tonight. One of our friends is Djing. He says there’s not that many people in anyway. Besides that hip hop crowd are nice people and…”

“…and we don’t want 1000 people from Facebook turning up either. Do we?”

“No, we don’t.”

I was thinking of all the stories in the media of the definite link between police heavyhandedness and the Facebook community. The police may think they have good reasons to fear a large gathering might occur. The guy whose BBQ was stopped because he’d advertised it on Facebook knows too well the consequences of inviting a few friends round for a BBQ. The teenagers party that cost £10,000 to stop.  Notice some of the stories are from the Daily Mail who stoke up this animosity; frightening the horses and the middle classes. Things do go wrong some times and the fear of a genuine police overreaction cannot be discounted. After the infamous 'Night of Mayhem Party' where, indeed, 2,500 people did turn up to a ‘Facebook party’ the police sometimes feel a compelling need to react to every mention of the word ‘party’ on the internet; now their major source of information; as it is ours. Perhaps Kent police are instigating a “Facebook Party Crackdown” just like their Sussex colleagues?

“And we certainly don’t want a rave going on here for days on end. Do we?”
“No, but… this is a BBQ not a rave”, we try to reassure, “It is friends and family.”

Oskar and Si got back from Bluewater around 6pm. He’d bought a nice new top and a belt with a digital screen you could get words to flow past. He had on ‘call me’ followed by his phone number. Another one was ‘don’t look at me.’

The BBQ was just getting going. Flame was lit, table groaning with food, windbreaks up, Blood and Sand cocktails on ice for the grown ups. Only made with Tequila instead of Scotch. Friends and more children arrived. The sunset was magnificent. The deep music lovely.  We were going to hang around for the sunrise now. The temperature was 19 degrees even at 4am. The lovely police allowed us to stay after deciding we were not scurrulous Facebook ravers after all. Although we do know that our right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political freedom and a civil liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights Article 11 and we were going to assemble on the beach for the sunset despite what they said and that in spite of threatening to serve us a section 64 notice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, that never actually appeared we were staying. It was Oskar’s birthday and the nearest date we could celebrate the summer solstice.

 We all sat there, in the pebbles, by the fire in the sultry warm and the dark watching a sunrise of epic mid summer proportion and all were lost in the beauty, wonderousness and peacfulness of it all. The beginning of a new day in Paradise.

Around 30 people turned up, most stayed a while longer as the sun heated up rapidly. It was to be the hottest day of the year, after yesterdays hottest day of the year. We had an important football game to watch. 30 million predicted viewers in the UK alone. And unlike the BBQ we just had it was to be an event of many twisting turns; from elation to the pits of despair. Mainly anguish as it turned out.

As someone said in a, shhh, Facebook post what a great 48 hours the weekend was. Only two hours of it ruined by the English players in South Africa. The kakorrhaphiophobics did not have a good day.

Even I, a stubborn hetrosexual man, could not fail to notice that the Police Inspector who came to ask us to turn it down was a very good looking man indeed and so reasonable and articulate too. I thought 'that man will go far; promote him now'.

"I read your blog," he says.
"I'll write you a good review," I reply.