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Sunday, 11 July 2010

Rage and The Enraged...



This week, because of where we live, I have felt afraid for the first time in many years...

We moved to this area, to grasp a little bit of 'the Good Life'. Our son would attend local schools and enjoy an active lifestyle, climbing trees and swinging from ropes suspended from them...

We live in the kind of spot that still exists in England where people don't bother to lock their doors, leave windows open to let in the summer evening's breeze and scent of the hills, and where you can trust your neighbours with your life.

Would it surprise you to know that several of my neighbours have helped me out over the years in a variety of challenging circumstances? One towed me and my son out of a storm swollen burn one harsh winter when my car couldn't handle the icy slope ahead of me. Another used his bright red tractor to tow me and my car out of a hummock dangerously close to a flooded quarry, where I'd skidded in horrendously icy weather... (This wasn't in the same week, by the way, I'm not that accident-prone... Well, maybe I am).

Rothbury folk are good folk. Salt of the earth. (Relatively) Law-abiding... (There might be the odd drunken fight, an illicit still or two, a car whose tax has been overlooked...) People here are open. Honest. Decent. Friendly. Helpful -- Welcoming, even though it's said around these parts that you must have two sets of grandparents buried in the village church-yard to be considered a local...

And this week a burly 'roid-enraged gunman called Raoul Moat, fleeing alleged crimes in Tyneside and County Durham, decided he would hide out here, taunting the Police in a bizarre cat and mouse game -- Playing a week-long spell of hide and go seek...

All this week, Police helicopters have flown over my house. Armed coppers from other Police Forces, perhaps more accustomed than we are to gun crime, patrolled the streets of the village.

On Wednesday night I stood rapt at my bedroom window while an armed raid on what turned out to be one of his campsites took over the evening airspace a couple of miles away at Wagtail Farm.

...All of my neighbours were extra vigilant throughout this time. Doors were locked. Rothbury itself was locked down. Under siege. Friends and family were carefully watched out for. On Friday night my husband sloped off to see his friend and locked me into the house for safety.

The rumour mill spoke of holiday cottages under siege and Police dogs unleashed, biting the innocent, while searches were underway. One home was broken into twice, on successive evenings. Moat helping himself first to food from the fridge, flickering a light off and on again to frighten away the family who fled to safety. The next day he came back after dark, cooked himself some food from the freezer and slept off his meal in one of the family's beds, leaving the imprint of his form on their pillows and sheets...

Last night, a young local confided to my husband that the Police had asked his landlady whether any fertilizer had been stolen in this, a further burglary. ...This is, as I said, a very rural area -- Remote farms, acres of moorland and steep crags, roaming sheep and cattle -- It would be difficult, even with top-notch military heat-seeking equipment, to sort out a crouched human form from the beasts...

Someone was looking to steal fertilizer, perhaps he mentioned it in his four-page rant about how the media was mis-representing him. Could he have had making explosives in mind?

At first, he didn't pose a threat to the general public. We were to go about our normal business. Shops re-opened but were very quiet. Schools opened under armed guard. Tourists stopped their remote walks, but lone anglers returned to the River Coquet. But now this man was posing a wider public threat, and we were all afraid...

This has been one of the biggest manhunts that the UK has ever seen.

And last night he died. I feel sorry that any life has been lost, and the investigation will perhaps uncover what actually happened when he took his own life.

However, I feel sorrier for his ex-girlfriend who was terrified of her life when she told him on his release from a short spell in prison (for assaulting his slightly built nine year old daughter), that she was now going out with a Policeman, to try to warn him off... Sam is still in hospital, severely harmed. She might never be able to have more children.

I feel even sorrier for the Policeman, going about his shift, sitting in his stationary car watching the busy traffic last Saturday, when Moat decided the whole Police Force were to blame for his troubles and discharged his weapon into the officer's kind face, leaving him horribly injured, perhaps blinded.

I feel even sorrier still for the martial arts champion instructor who was courting Moat's ex-girlfriend who was shot dead by him simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A man in his twenties, he'd only just moved up to the area from Manchester... Moat shot him three times, just to make sure he was dead.

There is too much pent-up anger in the world. There are too many people who hold on to grudges, who'd rather blame anyone but themselves for things that have gone wrong in their lives.

People will always fall foul of the system, or fall through society's wide-ish net.

Raoul Moat may have appeared to be a nice enough man to some people of his acquaintance. One of my colleagues bought a car from him last year... His mother should never have said, nor even thought, that he'd be better off dead.

Many of us have crosses to bear, but we're not all putting it out there, armed to the teeth, enraged and on a rampage.

He isn't a hero.

13 comments:

Gigi said...

Oh my goodness! I hadn't heard of this (haven't seen any news, etc lately). I'm sorry this happened where you live-would definitely make me frightened. Why is that people seem to think that violence & mayhem is the answer to all their problems these days? Clearly it isn't and not only are they effing up their own lives but also those thatthey come in contact with...

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

We have been hearing of this way down here in New Zealand - so much anger and hatred.
Sooo glad you are ok.
Was worried about Saz when a gunman was roaming her part of the world too - what is up with people!

Jo said...

Do you know, this was the headline news on our 6:00 news here in Vancouver tonight, and they did an in-depth coverage of it for about ten minutes. It was shocking...!

I'm glad you're okay. This is a crazy world, isn't it...?

libby said...

How sad this all is. Have been hearing about it on the news all week, and imagine it must have been horrible for Rothbury residents, and yet again we have to think of the many sad families affected by one 'non hero'. Hope your rural life returns to normal pretty quickly.

slommler said...

This is quite distressing! And I am glad the siege is over but what a cost in human lives!! Tragic indeed!
Glad you are alright.
Hugs
SueAnn

Elsie Button said...

this whole thing has been utterly horrendous. and as you say,the people it has affected in such a devastating way. so unbelievably sad.

Saz said...

glad you and your are safe hun...I always think of you being in Morpeth so l didnt connect the two....

your post tells a haunting picture f the last week....so glad it is now over for you at least....too many will be suffering from this for many years to come...

luv

saz x

Expat mum said...

It was really scary not knowing where he was going to show up next and what he might do.

carma said...

what a horrific story. I'm usually pretty good about catching up on news via the web but saw nothing of this story. Hopefully now your area can go back to the same safe hamlet it was before this siege.

Moannie said...

A view seldom heard, lucid factual and thoughtful...so different from the hysteria that flows from the pens of sensation seeking news reporters. So glad it is over and ordinary life can return to your lovely county.

Chrissy said...

You have written about this tragedy so beautifully & sensitively. I wish you peace of heart & mind now, and a return to safety. My heart goes out to you, your community and all those involved. Thank you for sharing this, it couldn't have been easy for you.

Cx

Suldog said...

I had just heard of this man today, prior to coming here. The odd homicidal maniac, most especially from overseas, sometimes doesn't reach out front pages until the finale, however it comes about.

So sorry to hear of your life being disrupted. That truly sucks. When we have a piece of the Earth that we have come to call home, and lovingly so, and then that place is violated in some way, it is horrible, indeed.

From what I've heard, he was a bad man. I'll not pass judgment further, since I don't know the whole story. However, I'm glad you can now begin to reassemble your disrupted life. God bless.

Marilynne said...

That's a long time to be frightened - a whole community with the police searching among them. Thanks for writing about your adventure.

Something I wrote earlier...

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