When I arrived at the Clearleft office yesterday morning, I found Andy and Richard in mid argument.
“Indigo? No! It’s India”, said Andy.
“It says Indigo here,” Rich responded.
“Well I’m using the CAA alphabet.”
“Are you talking about phonetic alphabets” I interjected, “‘cause there’s more than one, y’know.”
I was then challenged to see how far I could get. “Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta…” I did alright for a while but my brain started giving up later in the alphabet.
But it got me thinking. I should at least know how to spell certain things phonetically. For those phone calls when it really matters, it would be nice to be able to rattle off my postcode as Bravo November Three, One Delta Hotel. And really, everyone should know how to phonetically spell out their own name, right?
The office conversation turned to other matters—like which parts of Brighton were the most dangerous, with Sophie informing us that Waterloo Street (the street right down from mine) leads in the category of murder.
Cut to this morning. After a nice long lie-in, I sauntered into the living room, still pyjamad and robed, to the sound of some shouting from outside.
“Sounds like there’s another random crazy person shouting out there” said Jessica.
I looked outside and saw that the shouting was coming from a scarily stocky looking guy in the garden of the house directly across from us. Just a week ago, that house was the centre of a huge police raid involving detectives and officers in what looked like riot gear. I’m assuming that whatever they arrested him for didn’t stick.
Then things got scary. The guy came out onto the street. He had something in his hand. That something turned out to be a knife. He started shouting at strangers walking along the street and waving the knife about.
I ran to the phone and dialled 999. I could see some other people on the street doing the same thing with their mobiles. At least I was safe on the balcony—the people at ground level needed to take care of their own safety.
I started giving a blow-by-blow account over the phone of what I could see. I made sure to mention that this guy was almost certainly previously known to detectives as part of an ongoing investigation.
He started chasing people… down Waterloo Street. It was beginning to look like the street would be holding onto to its reputation for a while.
A police car arrived, screeching around the corner. The knife-wielder stopped chasing the civilians and started running towards the police car. They met in the middle of the street. He pounced on top of the car and started hammering on the roof.
I was doing my best to relay all of this down the line but this was all happening about 400 feet away from me at this point.
Another police car arrived. The officers got out. I couldn’t see clearly what was going on but I’m guessing they were trying to get him to put down the knife.
He started running back up the street. The four police officers followed. He turned. I saw him lash out with the knife. One of the police officers jumped back. I couldn’t tell if the knife had connected.
I saw truncheons in the hands of the police officers. It was clear at this point that he wasn’t about to give up the knife willingly. With a few co-ordinated blows, he was down. I’m generally not a big fan of resolving situations with violence but in this case, I felt relieved.
At the other end of the phone line, the man taking my call was thanking me for my help.
“Can I just get your name?” he asked.
“Sure. It’s Jeremy Keith”, I said.
“Keith”, I said, and I started to frantically try to remember how that would be spelt in the phonetic alphabet. My mind was a blank. Must have been all the adrenaline.
“K.E.I.T.H.” I said, lamely.
Of course as soon as I put the phone down, I remembered. “Kilo!… Kilo Echo Indigo Tango Hotel. Damn it!”
As I write this, Waterloo Street has been cordoned off. The “suspect” is in custody. I’m still in my pyjamas. The first thing I did when I put the phone down was to Twitter. Then I Flickred. Now I’m blogging.
Yeah, I reckon I’ve got my priorities about right.