As Dorothy might have said, had she lived in South London, ‘I’m not in Clapham any more.’
In Clapham you did not come home at night to find police officers investigating one of your neighbours’ doors.
You did not find random groups of people standing outside the aformentioned door the next day, doing nothing in particular except try not to look conspicuous.
You didn’t get the police helicopter hovering right over your flat and come out to discover the whole neighbourhood is either out on your street, or hanging their head out of their windows.
On closer examination you did not find that the heads peering out of some of those windows belonged to police officers.
And you never heard the words, coming over the radios, ‘He’s on the roof!’
But this is not Clapham. This is Balham.
Oh so exciting – I stood in our little mews for a while until the police seemed to disappear off, and then I wandered out to the front of my flat, on Balham High Road.
There, perched like a giant bird between two roofs, was the fugitive in question, looking very skinny, slightly out of it, but very relaxed.
Everyone was standing in the gardens at the front of the bars across the road from us, beers in hand, staring up at him, and speculating on why he was there.
‘Erm, excuse me,’ I said to a nearby police constable. ‘My flat is the one next to the one that guy is sitting on. What’s happening?’
Some kind of break-in, they think, the guy on the roof had either broken in somewhere and climbed up, or had clambered up the terraces on the back of our flats, to sit up there away from capture or arrest. ‘He’s not threatening to jump or anything, so it’s perfectly safe.’
Rightio. So I stood on the street corner, and made friends with my neighbours, as we watched two fire engines arrive, and multiple discussions between multiple groups of police and fire officers go on. And on. And on. Time passed, the sun set, and eventually I needed the loo, so I decided to go back in.
And that’s when they set up the crane for the ladders and began the attempt to bring him down. From our living room front window I had a fantastic view. The crane rose slowly upwards, and the man on the roof stepped carefully, and with no resistance, onto the platform.
(The bandit’s the one in the blue t-shirt)
The crowd went wild, everyone applauded and cheered, he was brought down to the road, read his rights, arrested and then taken off in the back of a secure police van.
By far THE most exciting thing I have witnessed, possibly ever. No exaggeration.