Apologies for posting a little late. It's been an unexpectedly busy day.
My son and his friend - two twelve-year-old boys - got mugged on their way home from school. They weren't hurt, just shaken, they handled it well, the muggers (three of them, older) got away with one broken Blackberry.
The police were great, they arrived within ten minutes of my call, took my son's friend up the road to see if he could spot them, took descriptions from both of them, took them seriously, praised their actions.
As a mother it was painful to imagine how easily things could have been worse, how easily an knife could have come out of a back pocket, how they might have been punched or kicked or hurt in other ways. We will have to reconsider the safety of the streets near our local railway station, think about whether it's still OK for my son and his sister to walk home alone.
As a writer though it was interesting to hear how the muggers spoke (they used exactly the same words that the muggers use in my books When I Was Joe and Almost True) the way the police looked (rough) and spoke ('We work the peak burglary hours - 2 till 2')
Sometimes being a writer insulates you from everyday traumas. That part of you which observes and take notes actually springs into action when life becomes dramatic - even when the drama is painful and difficult.
I have once been a victim of burglary, once witnessed a mugging, three times been in close proximity to shootings (Halloween last week reminded me, as it always does, of the year when a man was killed by profession assassins right in the middle of the Amsterdam expat children's Halloween route - we were on the same street at the time and it was right outside our old house.) I was once chased in my car, once approached by a strange man in the woods saying 'Give us a kiss', I was groped by a pervert in the crowd at the end of the London Marathon. These were all frightening things but nothing too traumatic. Nothing that changed my life.
The police told my son that his friend (owner of the Blackberry) was the victim of the crime and he was a witness. Afterwards he said to me 'I'm like the boy in your book. I'm like Joe.'
Well, no, I said, Joe witnesses a murder, he has to go into witness protection. None of that has happened to you. None of that is ever going to happen to you. And silently I pray that I've told the truth.