Not something I ever thought I’d see, to be honest. Especially not on a sleepy road in my hometown. Apparently, I am wrong to make such sweeping assumptions. I was miserably failing to sleep last night when, around eleven, I heard what sounded like a loud ‘whoomph’ and the sound of a small moped or motorcycle engine being gunned down the road. It clearly rang enough alarm bells that I got out of bed to glance out the window, where lo! and behold, someone’s car was aflame. To say I was taken aback is an understatement. I clattered about the house for what felt like ages but in reality was probably only about a minute before I found my phone and rang 999.
Thinking about it, I actually had a rather amusing conversation with the 999 operator. For some reason, I was fixated on the idea that because I heard the perpetrators roar off (whine off?) on their moped that this was Crime and hence should be dealt with by Police. Conversation went something like this:
Operator: 999 emergency services?
Me: Hi, I need the police.
O: Putting you through…
Policeperson: Hello, what is the incident?
M: Um, yeah. A car has been torched on Roadmyhouseison Road.
P: Which city is that?
M: Uh, Citymyhouseisin.
P: What actually happened?
M: Just heard a bang and the sound of a moped driving off, looked outside and a car was on fire.
P: Did you see a moped?
M: No, I just heard one leave. Might’ve been a small motorbike.
P: It’s not a moped that’s on fire? (Stop fixating on the moped. THINGS ARE BURNING)
M: Erm, no. Definitely a car. Thinking about it, could probably use the fire brigade as well (the penny drops…shit’s on fire…need the fire brigade!)
P: Which end of the road is it?
M: Around half-way up?
P: Is it closer to one end? Which side of the road is it on?
M: It’s pretty obvious once you arrive, it’s a flaming car. That’s on fire. Really, they won’t miss it. (IT’S ON FIRE!!!)
P: Uh, okay then. We’ve called the fire brigade for you and they’re on their way.
M: Thanks for your help.
P: No problem. click
Except, of course, that phones don’t click anymore since everyone started using mobiles. Either way, within 5 minutes the fire service had pulled up and doused most of the street in water, and if cars were watertight I’m pretty sure the car would’ve been full to the brim. There were people standing watching in the street, but I find it odd that the people whose car it was did not emerge from their house. It is possible that they were in hospital after a potentially related incident earlier that evening, witnessed by one of my housemates. He saw around twelve Polish people beat up about 3 other Polish people – apparently one couldn’t get up and Housemate caught one other as he just fell of the side of the pavement. They refused help and then dragged their unconscious comrade away. The car was parked in front of a house that we think has Polish occupants, but we’re not sure.
I am not sure what to do with this information. Housemate was by the university and told them to call the police, but I’m unsure what they passed on and even if they did. Am I making mountains out of molehills, linking things that aren’t, or is two unprecendented crimes within 500m and 6 hours of each other just too much of a coincidence? And if it is, am I actually helping by calling the police one more time?
It looks less dramatic from here than it is. I walked past it earlier – the inside is gutted with nothing but the frames of the seats remaining. Steering wheel, bumpers, gearstick and handbrake are melted away. The rear bumper is a pile of molten plastic lying next to the fractured windscreen. The whole scene still smells strongly of burnt plastic.