The second time I got mugged was in Clapton, East London, right in front of a church. It was an inept mugging. My cheap bag strap broke and everything fell onto the dog shit strewn lawn of the church. The guys looked at the contents of the stuff on the ground. Lippy, tampons, anti sickness suppositories, Kleenex, pens, a steno pad, a mini London A to Z, maybe two or three quid. A cassette cover of a short lived off shoot of Sonic Youth, called Ciccone Youth, basically Thurston Moore in a record booth singing really badly over Madonna’s Into The Groove. The cassette itself was in my Sony Walkman, and I was listening to it while waiting for the bus and therefore depriving myself of one of one of my anti mugging senses, plus trying to decide if I liked Into The Groovy. See I loved Into The Groove, the real song, it’s an instant feel good swaggering jazzy walk kind of song. I think Madonna as a whole is not a good thing, but I admire her work ethic and dancer’s discipline.
It was at a time in my life when I just didn’t allow myself to like anything that was too popular. It didn’t seem cool. So Into the Groove was my guilty pleasure. And everybody who was cool liked Thurston Moore. There was a joke going round at the time. Why did the Punk rocker cross the road? Cos Thurston told him to. I was set to fly to NY to interview them as Ciccone Youth, we could not talk about Sonic Youth at all, which was fine by me, but by the time I got over they didn’t like Madonna anymore ( perhaps they never did in the first place, some people are just too ironic) and all they wanted to talk about was Janet Jackson. “Janet Rocks,” they said with great authority and what seemed like authenticity. “She kicks ass” But all that was later and not really to do with getting mugged, all though perhaps in the wider sense of let’s fuck with the journo’s head sense of the word.
So I was at this bus stop in front of a church, and even though there were loads of people carrying their Tesco bags, a few carrying those walkie talkie sized mobile phones, lots of people sucking their teeth and bitchin about when the bus was gonna come. Not that I heard it, I as all Thurston-ed out, but I could see it. These two guys walked passed us and seemed to sort of size us up. Who is the dumbest here? Who looks the most lost? Who is not really with it and on guard against us ruffians? In any given situation, apart from say, a facility where people on major tranqs go, I am the stand out lost, druggy out of it lookin one, even though I was not on drugs and I had lived in those parts for a few years. So much so that I could have given directions to a lost tourist, but they didn’t tend to come to Clapton, near Dougies Wine Bar, men five quid, lovely ladies, free. A land of tower blocks, pirate radio stations and drug dealing and murder.Dougies got closed down in some drugs raid and became a Saturday school, which is like Sunday school on Saturday.
I am deprived of most senses outside my own head, so I’m already an easy target. Add a Walkman into the mix and I’m totally fucked in that let’s mug that one sort of way. So the first walk by was to chose which one to mug. The second walk by, one of the guys put his salty smelling hand over my mouth, pointlessly. Where had that hand been? Had he had a crafty wank? A piss? A swim in the sea? Sweatin with nerves? Fish and chips? Extra Saxa salt?
What’s the point in screaming if you are surrounded by people? Apart from say, a teen boy band gig? I have to tell you there is nothing more disgusting than a stranger putting his salty smelling hand over your mouth. It provokes the gag reflex, and I couldn’t go into my bag, which the other guy was trying to grab, to fetch the anti sickness suppositories. Would I have had the nerve to shove something medicinal up my puny arse at a bus stop in front of a church? Well, yeah. So the one guy tugged and tugged. I said through the salty hand “Help, help me!” and no one did. Then the guy took his hand off my mouth and I said, I have nothing of value you fucking fuckers, and this is like in front of a fucking church. Surely that contravenes the laws of mugging?” And he said “What the fuck are you talking about? Crazy fuckin lady”
Meanwhile the other guy was tugging and tugging, Thurston kept droning into my ears, I was like take my Walkman, and he was like nah they’re shit. Finally just about when my arm was about to be dislodged from its socket, the strap on my Ridley Road cheap shit bag broke ( thank you God) and as the zip hadn’t worked from the second day after purchase, all my stuff fell onto the grass of the church, which was sort of a God like extension of the bus stop. The guys looked at all my pathetic girl stuff on the grass and just sauntered off.
Still, no one at the bus stop did anything. Except for this one woman who had just arrived at the bus stop. She said Oh, wow, I saw what happened, are you OK” I said, “I guess, I’m pissed off at them, and the other people at the bus stop, and they didn’t get anything anyway, not even my Walkman.” She said, “Here let me help,” and got down on her hands and knees and scooped all my stuff and other stuff ( tell you about in a sec) into my bag. And she looked all pretty and young and earnest and like she’d just been to the hairdressers. And she said, “I work as a volunteer for victim concern, would you like to give us a call to discuss your ordeal” And I said yeah OK but it wasn’t an ordeal as such, they didn’t get stuff, the bag was a bit shit anyway, I’m just mad that God and the people at the bus stop didn’t step in.
So somehow I managed to get home. I cried, I am pretty sure I cried, my arm really hurt, I felt like , wow, this woulda never happened had I not listened to Thurston Moore in a sensory deprivation sort of way. I was living in a flat with my first husband who was still at work or at a gig or something. The flat was below a very grand house on Lordship Park, a very posh road in Stoke Newington. The posh owners saw me crying and invited me in. I told them the story. They gave me whiskey and tea. I think the whiskey was in the tea. I didn’t like it but drank it to be polite. I went downstairs to our flat and emptied all my stuff on our floor. It was all there, plus, accidentally, I hope accidentally, the victim support lady had scooped what looked like a white, fossilised dog poo into my bag. I have since learned that some dogs on bad food poo white, it’s not a fossil. Well that totally put me off victim support, I was not a victim, I was a recipient of dog poo by a do gooder. If people trying to be helpful put shit in your bag, don’t trust em. TBC