Sunday, 6 July 2008

Quivering in fear

It's finally been done: my first London party/club experience. And even though I am home before midnight (perhaps that's cos I will turn into a pumpkin! ;p) I feel it was still worth documenting.

Reason for the night out is my boss's birthday. He invited the entire London branch for a night out - all five of us. I thought it would be interesting - in the least - to see the office mates out of the office. And it certainly different to see them not in front of their computers.

It was fun. I got to see Londoners clubbing. It's almost as if a mask has lifted and an entire new, population has emerged. An entirely dressed up sort of a crowd. Bling and smiles all around!

I wanted to leave before the really really drunken lots of people hit the trains and buses. And I did just that. In way it was quite sad to leave the dance floor so early. But I was also scared of travelling home, on m own, so late at night. Okay, not that late, but late enough for me.

I've never really travelled on my own in SA. And here I was on my own. Coming home from clubbing. A few drinks down the system. And I was still scared as ever to falling victim to crime. My work mates insisted I let them know when I have reached home safely. They are South African too. My question that begs an answer: is this normal? Is it normal to be so scared that you are covered in a sliver of nervous perspiration? Is it normal to speak to your S.O all the way home because then if something goes wrong, someone knows about it? Am I normal in looking over my shoulder all the time and not feeling safe till I lock the door behind me? Even as I type this, I cannot fathom what I just did - coming home alone at this time. My heart is still racing out of my rib cage and I am shaking with nervous energy. Is this what the crime rate in South Africa has reduced me to? A neurotic nervous wreck?


Jo said...

Well to be perfectly honest.... You did it all right. In my book of experience it has always beeen better to be safe than it was to be sorry. As I read your post I was thinking, 'Gee, I hope she had a cell phone so she could call someone as she is making this trip home'.

Crime is everywhere and not just in SA. with the economy what it is today there are many people out there that would just as soon hurt you for a measley $10 as to try to earn it honestly. These same criminals are looking for a target that isn't practicing safety rules.

We watch a lot of crime shows and are always amazed at how much information they give away that in the end can be used by the criminal to avoid being caught. The other day they showed a segment about a woman in her mid twenties that was taken from her home after she had been clubbing. They knew that she was taken from her home by someone she knew because there was no signs of forced entry and because she always called someone between leaving where she had been and her car and between her car and her apartment. In this case it was her boyfriend which cleared him right off the bat. She just disappeared and never was found.

It all goes to show that you can never be too careful.... even of people you know or think you know.

Saaleha Bamjee-Mayet said...

What Jo wrote makes a lot of sense.
However, I also feel that the fear you experienced is the residual of your life here.
I had a similar experience in London last year , when I had to take the last tube back to where a friend was staying. Walking the streets alone past midnight, I was on high alert, so aware of my space and who may be edging into it.
It's the South African way. It's awful to be so 'on' all the time, but I often think that this careful paranoia is what keeps us safe, even in the most unassuming of places.

Prixie said...

Jo: Thanks Jo. You are right about crime being everywhere. I just wonder if my neurotic state is normal? Being so scared I shake and have a nervous perspire clinging all over me...

Saal: It feels so comforting to be understood. I wonder if I will be able to do it again, come home alone I mean. I hate that constant sense of being terrified.

Mark Berry said...

Fear is the biggest controller of our lives, we fear so much, fear IS our life. I dont think that ever changes, I think it is what life is about. becoming intimate with it, you know. It's a guide, and yet it gets in the way of us living too. We have to find that balance.

Try not to go home alone because you are just risking being a statistic if you are a girl you are far more at risk. It just isnt worth it. Take a cab. and make sure it is a good one not a dodgy one. Phone it first.

I spent 18 years in London and went to some pretty low life places being an full-time party animal in those days. In all that time I never got mugged but it came close twice, I just ran, trust the instincts, dont hang about. Avoid the night buses drunk unless you like getting felt up by weirdos or your pockets picked once it gets out into the styx at 3am.

I find London quite agressive as a place now I have left it I realise that. but you know when trouble is brewing, stop a car, run into a house, scream bloody murder,do what you have to. I dont know SA though some of my family died there in a house burglary sadly, so where is safe in life? Some of my friends got mugged in their homes in london, one got raped at a busstop at 7.30 ish, everyone left out of fear. people are like that. Everyone is afraid. even the psychos. It doesnt happen as much as you think, but it does happen. Papers dont report how NOTHING HAPPENED today. They need dirt to feed the public fear. Terrorism always a good one at the moment. Dont believe the hype.

It's cities for you. kind of like the discovery channel. this 'civilised' world is as jungle as it ever was. That is what makes it fun in a way.

As for your question, should you feel that way? we all do! life IS fear. it is good to feel it, reminds you just what you came here to learn. embrace it but dont let it ruin your fun. go slow, but try to be safe. I guarantee within 6 months you'll be out all the time wondering what the fuss was about. London is a great place.
But if you arent, and you are still scared, that's ok too. I am scared everytime I step out of my door, every day of my life, I fear people. It never really goes you just learn to walk tall and focus on the LOVE.

and if you find the cure to that fear feeling, you'll be rich beyond belief.

Actually someone has. they learnt to turn the fear gene off in mice, but they die a lot quicker because they take on more stupid risks. there is probably a lesson in that someplace.

And dont carry a weapon! another mate of mine carried MACE, one day he got in a ruck and accidently sprayed himself. you can imagine what happened. he looked like a racoon when we saw him. actually that was quite funny come to think of it. yet another friend carried a knife and ended up stabbing a guy on a bus in Oxford, he ended up dead it fucked his life up. it just isnt worth it.

live for peace and love.

and dont go in the parks after dark then you wont meet the animals that live there.

get out clubbing though! jesus I had the best times in London I will never forget. Turnmills sound system was the best in the 90's blew us away. we lived it baby. go do the same, fuck all that fear. you got one life, go SHINE!


Prixie said...

mark thank you so so much for those words of wisdom. its great to get tips from an insider! i made up my mind that if i am going clubbing, and yes i will, i will go with friends and we can make arragnements for them to sleep at my place or me at theirs. that way we can even split the cost of the cab! i would not miss london night life for anything. who knows how long i will be here for?!

Mark Berry said...

Glad ot be of service, I'll call it another soul saved. I Love it. I went to London for an all night party once, and left 18 years later. London rocks with a good pulse. you just need to find the right crowd. Enjoy :)

Noorjehaan said...

one of the main motivations for me to leave beloved SA is the whole fear thing. i know it exists everywhere but on my visits to Europe and the Middle East
I experienced such a joyousness walking to the evening theatre, shopping till dawn, nightlife and vibrance that we are deprived of here in SA with our high walls, boom gates, secure parking lots etc. I know everywhere you get dodgy areasand ppl, and also other countries are restricted by bad weather like how we are restricted by crime. But it is sad that the diversity of entertainment options that existed maybe a decade ago in SA don't exist anymore,.

Mark Berry said...

that's interesting. I didnt realise it had receeded. I thought it would be growing a little more free. then again, I guess it figures.
but I saw the changes occur in London the last few years and felt compelled to leave. I guess we change, and miss the way things were, always. maybe something to watch out for lest we get bitter.

nostalgia is a seductive liar - George Ball (whoever the hell he was!)

Frank Zappa said something about in the future people being nostalgic for the moment that just past. hang on found it....It isnt necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia -Frank Zappa.

and if anyone asks me who Frank Zappa was, I'm leaving and taking my bottle of whisky and guitar with me.

dennis said...

Dennis says crime is everywhere even tiny peaceful villages will never be a safe place for a woman to walk home completely alone. The prettiest village in the south of France --you simply never ever know if there's a person who sees a woman alone and follows her. Dennis knows this because his family is mostly women. Dennis says always be aware of your surroundings and walk with confidence.

Anki said...

I thought this affected only Indian girls ... especially from Delhi

i never went clubbin without 3-4 male escorts.. safe in cars

but when i moved to the western part of the country... the looking over the shoulder feeling has slowly left me

its finally safe to be a girl on the streets without being stared at

i hope you can break free too


Linds said...

Hi there - I am here from Jo's place, and thought I would say hello. I moved to England from SA 18 years ago, and my older 2 children went to university in London. They went out and about and absolutely loved life in the city, and in fact, my son still lives and works there now.

It took years for my paranoia to go away, after living in SA, so you are not alone. The good thing to remember is that you are not being silly. You are streeetwise (because you grew up in SA) and therefore will be safe. The problem comes when you are too naive and trusting. Just be sensible and you will be fine.
There are over 280,000 S Africans in the south east, by the way!
My heart aches for SA, and the soaring crime rate. I have family and friends there too.

Enjoy every moment of your time here in the UK. You will be making memories to treasure forever!

~Lord Anshul said...

makes sense long as you know that you are all on your own, it is more sensible to be on a safer side. and in a new city its even more so.