Tomlinson v Harwood

In the red-eyed corner, homeless alcoholic and occasional newspaper salesman Ian Tomlinson.  He comes into this fight with two failed marriages, nine children (four of his own and five step-children; proof that he loves them to bits is evidenced by their names crudely tattooed on his hands).  He’s wearing a blue Millwall football shirt with a grey Milwall t-shirt on top; it’s not a good look.  He’s not in great shape and looks older than his 47 years.  Homelessness can’t help and cirrhosis of the liver brought on by his alcoholism means that Harwood is a strong favourite to take the bout.  Tomlinson is drunk, meaning that his movement is impaired and his reactions are slow and unpredictable.


In the blue-flashing-light corner, territorial support officer Simon Harwood.  He comes into the fight in good shape physically, though he’s been up since 5am and this must count against him.  He’s limbered up for the fight by pushing and palm-striking protesters and has roughed up a BBC cameraman for good measure.  His chequered past means it’s tricky to predict the approach he’ll take.  He’s with the Met at the moment, though he’s already moved from the Met to Surrey police once as a result of a misconduct hearing.  This fight could define his future.  Tomlinson is the crowd favourite and Harwood has little support from the crowd.  


Before it’s started, it’s all over.


Tomlinson is down, the result of a smart baton strike to the leg and a simple push.  He’s down, up again and down again.  This time he stays down.  Police are pelted by protesters as they attempt to help Tomlinson.


Harwood barely notices the incident and certainly makes no note in his note book.  The whole bout has taken little more than a few seconds but it’s enough to remove Ian Tomlinson from the face of the planet and to send ripples of shock a long way out from the centre of the incident.


Tomlinson has been unlawfully killed, it is decided.  No-one is guilty of this unlawful killing though Harwood’s performance in court is so poor than it’s almost as though he’s trying to get himself sent down.  Further revelations about Harwood’s past and character are released.  He is released.  


The Tomlinson family sense reimbursement and state that they will sue unless an admission of guilt is forthcoming; their own guilt or greed may be driving factors.  13 years since Ian Tomlinson left to live his own life away from them, he’s now reinvented as a wonderful dad.  Look at the tattoos, they say…


There’s some good news of course; Paul Lewis of the Guardian is named reporter of the year for his investigative journalism concerning the case.  Meanwhile, Syria dominates one or two of the middle pages…

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heard and overheard in London yesterday

Here’s a summary of my trip to London yesterday, documented by lines from me, my brother and some of the people with whom we interacted or just listened in on…


Totes; the barman recognises a girl who knows her liquor; OMG; that’s not cote du rhone!; super-smart; it’s mostly fernet branca and creme de menthe; sand eels are in season right now, in fact, everything’s in season here; the latest conference in Rio was a disaster; super-rude; Peter Atkins saved my degree with his book on physical chemistry; isn’t this just the entrance to the gift shop?; it’s amazing just how big the champagne region is; super-annoying; my favourite is the crispy cod skin; these are the lengths to which we we go to prove we’re not gay; I can’t let anyone sit on these chairs after six; how do you cook the duck hearts?; how many different types of gin do you have?; Which one tastes least like gin?; the stag do in Nottingham was even worse than the one in Crawley; we need to make science more fun, not just about learning facts or even scientific process; we’ve been having a lot of problems with these barriers today; you can sit in the window and look at the tourists; isn’t that your God-daughter?; I come from Lyon and I go back there three times a year; why don’t we just share the clams?; I’ll just have the beans and bacon; the rooms are really small; it’s best on the fifth floor; good service on all lines. 


*if you’re expecting something like The Wasteland, you’ll be sorely disappointed