or THIS RIOT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED
Brief bit of context: the night this happened was the night of a big football game in the city. The local team needed a win to secure their place in the playoffs and the visitors needed a win to secure an automatic promotion position, so it was a big night for both sides. Which of course meant it was a big night for the fans. Which meant shit was going to kick off at some point and it was just a question of when.
As is my style, I happened to time it perfectly on two occassions.
So I'm driving back from a drop - this is about an hour before the match even started - and I stop at a zebra crossing to let someone over. In the ten seconds this took the street went from being more or less empty to being swarmed by football shirt wearing mouth-breathers and riot police; seriously, it was fast. One moment, nothing, just me sitting in my car and wondering why the dashboard clock was being so fucking slow, then BOOM! RIOT.
The police are forcing goons out of a pub on the other side of the street, and they're doing so with remarkable efficiency, perhaps because said goons are concentrating more on fighting each other than the police. Fans from both sides just scrapping away, and the cops are kind of herding them as far away from the pub as they can. They seem pretty confused about the whole thing, perhaps because they're more used to people fighting back at them than just going with the flow in order to best continue their own private (well, quite public, really) struggles.
Such is the current of hooliganism that the road itself quickly fills with leering, jeering, bottle-throwing fans. What the fuck am I supposed to do now? I don't mind admitting that I'm a little bit unnerved by the whole thing. The migrating brawl doesn't even seem to clock my presence, but I can't drive in any direction without hitting someone, and I don't particularly fancy running someone down even if they do SUPPORT ANOTHER FOOTBALL TEAM OH MY GOD WHAT A CUNT AM I RIGHT.
But, unfortunately for me, the flowing riot seems to have come to a temporary halt. In the middle of the fucking road. And the fans seem to have momentarily forgotten their differences in order to unite against a common enemy: the motherfucking police. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that, although in this case there seems to be a kind of reverse love triangle of enemies that doesn't bode well for any potential reconciliation in the near future.
So I'm just there, in my Corsa, wondering what my manager is going to make of my excuse for being late back from the drop. Bottles are being thrown, riot batons are prodding ample beer bellies, and I'm just watching it all from the epicentre with the kind of detached fascination I imagine a deer caught in a truck's headlights must feel.
But, eventually, my sense of pizza professionalism wins through and I realise this shit ain't gonna stop going down any time soon. Which fucking sucks, 'cause that means I've got to actually do something about my predicament, which is not my style at all I don't mind telling you.
I roll down my window.
"Er, excuse me?" I shout to the bloke standing nearest to the front of my car.
He turns, startled by the dulcet tones of my voice, momentarily abandoning his noble pursuit of hurling verbal abuse at police officers from behind the safety of about fifty other rioters.
"What?" he asks, a mixture of surprise and primal rage in his voice.
"Er... would you mind moving?" I ask. "You know, just for a second, you can move back after, I'm just running a bit late." I kind of gesture at my car, and then the road, and then him, and then my car again, as I talk, hoping my inept mime will indicate to him what my words are clearly failing to do.
Amazingly, recognition registers after a few moments, and the dude's eyes widen in shock and awe.
"Oh, fucking hell!" he announces, and promptly steps forward, to the edge of the road and deeper into the throng. "Didn't even fucking clock where I was! Sorry mate!" He reaches out with two burly arms and promptly drags two skinnier unfortunates out of my path. "Oi, you mugs, we're in the fucking road!" he tells them, and I see the same astounded realisation on the faces of his thuggish compatriots.
"Cheers, mate!" I say with a casual wave as I drive out of the riot I'd been momentarily embroiled in.
"No worries!" my new friend shouts back cheerily.
As I drive off I look in the rearview and see him pushing deeper still into the riot, tossing aside friend and foe alike as if they were no more than ears of corn in the field of life. That may sound a touch poetic to you, but if it does that is only because you fail to comprehend the beauty of a football riot.
Anyway I get back and my manager looks sceptical, but I remind her of the football game that's on today and she kind of shrugs and just goes along with it (not that she could really do anything else, and not that she really gave a fuck in the first place). I head out on my next drop, and as I do I see a familiar shape on the horizon. I'm driving in the opposite direction to it, but I see what it is and I see where it's headed.
It's the riot. The police have managed to get it moving again - why I don't know, maybe they decided it was time for some other people to be terrorised for a while - and it's heading towards the High Street. Now, to me, the absolute centre of the city centre does not seem to be the best place to herd a football riot towards, but what do I know, right, I'm just a pizza boy not some kind of police mastermind (OR AM I).
Anyway, fuck it, right? Not my problem. I'm headed in the opposite direction.
Only, as I come back from the drop, I realise it sort of is my problem. Again.
Because a pretty familiar looking riot is blocking the road.
We're now on the other side of the city centre, and it is possible to go around a different way to get back to the shop, but I'll be fucked by a fucking fucker if I'm fucking going to fucking do that. It'd take like ten extra minutes, using my own petrol for no reason (petrol becomes like ambrosia - not the rice pudding - in the mind of pizza drivers who use their own cars, by the way), and just what the shitting crikey is the riot doing over HERE anyway? There's like nothing in the part of the city they are now rioting in: nearest pub is five minutes up the road, the football stadium is a good fifteen minute walk away, the fucking police station is miles away: I have a sneaking suspicion the riot police herded the fans over here just because they had no bloody clue what else to do.
Well I have a bloody clue what to do. I've got pizzas to deliver, motherfuckers, and not even Allah himself is going to stop me.
I roll down my window (why the hell do I say "roll down" I have electric windows THAT'S RIGHT MOTHERFUCKERS MY CAR IS WELL POSH) and lean out.
"Excuse me?" I ask, as loudly and politely as I can. The crowd have their backs to me, presumably because there are police officers or footballers on the other side of the riotous mess that is blocking the way back to the shop. "EXCUSE ME? Could you shift up a bit, please?"
One particularly large fellow turns around after a moment's pause, and the deep frown on his face is replaced with a look of amazement that I recognise about as quickly as he recognises me.
"Fuck me," he says, wiping sweat from his chubby brow. "You get around a bit, don't you?"
"Pizza delivery," I say, with a nonchalant shrug.
He nods knowingly. What can you do, that nod says. We are just two peas in the pod of life, trying to make our own way, establish our own rights and freedoms. I have chosen the way of the fist; you have chosen the way of the deep pan, hot and under 30 minutes or your money back. Que sera sera. God speed to you, my little friend.
After a minute's shiftying and shuftying my fat friend manages to move the riot enough out of the way that I can climb onto the curb (on the wrong side of the road of course) and squeeze past. I give him a nod of thanks as I pass him, and shoot a cheery wave at the bored-looking riot police as I go past. Looks the mob is managing itself quite well at the moment. With my newfound blood brother organising from the rear (heh) it's no wonder.
God speed to you, my little friend.
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