I AM sure I am not alone in looking back nostalgically to the halcyon days of the London lockdown.
Remember the traffic-free streets, the near deserted parks and squares, and the louder than usual twittering of the birdies in the trees? It seems an aeon ago now since the only jarring note was the insistent pitter-patter of the joggers.
Now, after a couple of hot days, lumpen London is back with a vengeance.
Early on Friday, venturing the few yards to our nearest reveller-blasted patch of grass, I was hailed by my first passive-aggressive drunk of the day.
But before we could establish a rapport, our exchange was interrupted by a hue and cry for a fat, shirtless inebriate who had grabbed someone’s phone and was staggering precariously from the scene of the crime.
The old neighbourhood’s back to normal, I reflected, and all before 9 AM!
At a nearby park, meanwhile, armed police were called out to deal with two men taking pot shots at wildlife on the lake. “It is possible one duck was killed,” Southwark Police announced, “but we are not sure yet.”
It’s understandable that everyone’s a bit stir-crazy after months of lockdown. Add to that a couple of days of heat and sunshine and the full gamut of the city’s underlying derangement is set loose.
It’s not a class thing so much as equal opportunity mayhem, although some Bermondsey locals have been muttering on social media that it’s all down to “them middle class hipsters”.
The noisy hordes that have descended on our local parks are clearly not short of a bob or two to judge by the plastic cups of half-consumed takeaway mojitos abandoned among the detritus carpeting the grass around the empty litter bins.
I’m all for everyone having a good time. But I’m not sure their dawn braying is much appreciated by the many ordinary Londoners who have been enduring weeks of genuinely sleepless nights, worrying how they’ll pay the post-lockdown rent or looking after fractious kids and grumpy grannies.
And all this before yet another of our interminable “Independence Days” on July 4 when Boris “fit as a butcher’s dog” Johnson has declared that the real post-lockdown party should begin!
Some people have inevitably tried to score political points by criticising government messaging on containing Covid, as if Johnson’s announcement of an end to “national hibernation” was somehow an invitation for us all to go outdoors.
Adherence to the lockdown had, in any case, already been in decline since Dom “the dodger” Cummings’ dash to Durham was exposed.
But, if you’re worried about more high jinks on the 4th – the police certainly are – I recommend retreating to the City, the still eye of any bacchanalian London storm. There’s nothing to do and few people live there, so it’s slim pickings for those who like to annoy the locals by yelling in the early hours or vomiting in the street.
I hung out in the square on Abchurch Lane this morning. As you can see: empty.
The City and its outskirts were not always so quiet, and the noisy gangs of litter-strewing tossers who have been keeping us awake all week are not a new phenomenon in a historically riot-prone and disorderly London.
Writing about a pre-Lent pissup in 1617, the contemporary commentator John Chamberlain wrote:
“The ‘prentices, or rather the unruly people of the suburbs, played their parts in divers places, as Finsbury Fields, about Wapping, by St Catherine’s, and in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, in pulling down of houses, and beating of guards that were set to keep rule.”
Happy Independence Day, and see you down the pub!