Friday, May 25, 2018

The Vulnerable Vandal

Approaching Roubaix

As I mentioned in the previous post, our very pleasant mooring in Roubaix last week resulted in some entertainment of the unlawful kind, but the results were slightly unexpected and ultimately very amusing.


Coming to the last lock before Roubaix

Waiting for the lock
To wet the scene (sorry, a typo, but a fitting one), we were just settling in for the evening on Tuesday when a loud thump announced the arrival of someone landing hard on our roof and attempting to pull open the hatch. Koos shot to the door, opened it with a bang and emerged like a dervish of doom full of sound and fury, which in this case, signified plenty.

He shouted fiercely (and believe me, it can be alarming – Koos is very good at projecting) at the intruder who, totally shocked to find anyone at home, was already beating a retreat and whining, "You frightened me!" In French, of course.

Well, that's a new one isn't it? What kind of vandal complains about being frightened by his victim?

Koos, not to be denied his moment of glory, bellowed a good old Anglo Saxon expletive at the top (or bottom) of his powerful bass voice, to which the vulnerable vandal complained, "And you're not even French? I didn't know you weren't French!" as he scarpered to the safety of the quay, quaking in his new Nike trainers.

I like bollards

In the lock on the way up

Well, that just did it for me. Is this a new millenial milestone? A vandal complaining that he'd been frightened into retreat and that we should have told him we weren't French. Would knowing we were foreigners have made a difference, I wonder? Are there protocols in millenial vandal world that were at stake here? Thou shalt not vandalise foreigners; 'tis bad for our business – or something.

We laughed about it for the rest of the evening. It gives a new dimension to that currently hackneyed term 'snowflake', doesn't it?

As it happened, we had something of a disturbed night altogether, but due less to the millenial méchants than to the police. At some point during the night, we heard stones being thrown onto the roof (in Rotterdam, we have bottles). Getting up to investigate, we didn't see anything, but it seems someone else did. Half an hour later, just as we were snoozing off again, another and much noisier series of thumps landed on the roof and before we knew it, torches were shining through the curtains and very French voices were demanding that we open up. 

Koos went to the door with me behind him this time. It was the police. Five of them. Overkill, I think, don't you? Bearing in mind we'd only suffered the whining of our vulnerable vandal and a few pebbles on the roof, five cops at our door was a bit extreme. If only they knew what we put up with in Rotterdam on a regular basis.

Anyway, they were suitably concerned and with their torches blazing down at us, they asked if we were all right.

"If you'd take that light out of my eyes, I would be," said Koos, in very convincing French I might add.

They didn't really get the joke, and went on to be rather serious about what a bad area it was and how dangerous it was and how we should call them etc etc. It occurred to us they might have thought we were the in-breakers, but given our rather senior appearance, I'm guessing they quickly abandoned that idea.

Anyway, Koos thanked them for their attention, said we were fine and we all said goodnight. 

In hindsight, though, I rather think they take what we understand to be standard urban behaviour more seriously than our Rotterdam police do. The latter go home to bed at 11:00 every night and leave us to it. Only the week before, I'd shooed three guys off my foredeck during the wee hours of the morning. It happens, well, not infrequently I have to say, and we're used to it. Perhaps the French police have other ideas about what is criminal and dangerous, but it didn't seem so bad to me.

Anyhow, the rest of our night passed peacefully, but as the next day we went to a fascinating arts and design centre, I'll save the rest of our trip for my next post. 

Enjoy your weekend, allemaal!


14 comments:

  1. Someone obviously needs to write a book on vandal etiquette! Another project for you Val? :) :)
    On a slightly different tack, I would be quite bothered if people were jumping on my boat, it's something I've never thought about when considering a boating trip!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is disturbing, Jenny; it always feels very intrusive, bit for some reason, people (both tourists and vandals) seem to think it’s okay. We’ve had to get used to it in Rotterdam because of our location in the tourist and social heart of the city. It sort of goes with the territory. I shall consider writing a code of ethics for boat vandals :) :)

      Delete
  2. Hi Val,
    We had a similar experience whilst on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal a few years ago when cruising on nb Rock'n'Roll.
    We'd moored up at the services/mooring and a group of teenage girls appeared at the top of the bank and started throwing stones at us. One of them was still wearing her school uniform!. We told them to 'go away' but the took no notice and continued to throw stones.
    I took a couple of photos and we rang the police who came to take a statement from us and actually advised us to move on. No way we said that would make them think that they had some sort of power over boaters and we stayed the night peacefully.
    The following day the policeman came back. Helped by the photos he had recognised the school uniform and quickly identified the girls, their parents had been contacted and we were informed that we should have no more trouble from them so we could stay where we were but we were moving on anyway later that day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, it’s great that the police did something! I’m not sure they would bother here in Rotterdam, but I can’t be sure. I’ve never seen anyone actually throwing bottles, so wouldn’t be able to identify them. We just hear it at night and find the results. The French police certainly take it seriously and when one kid threw stones at us on the way, we later learnt he’d had a good ticking off from a man who’d seen him do it. A nice bit os social control.

      Delete
  3. OMG! You seem to have taken all that in your stride! We, luckily, have never encountered that kind of thing. Makes you think! I did laugh at the thought of the vulnerable vandal though! I wonder if he had to change his trousers when he got home??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I wouldn't be surprised, Jude. I think the lesson is twofold: one, never leave anything stealable on deck in an unprotected mooring in a big city area, and the second is don't let the little blighters scare you. Mostly, they're just kids taking a chance ;)

      Delete
  4. Reading that was alarming but also encouraging that you beat the little shit back into retreat! When we go off in our caravan I too worry about such things happening.
    It's probably a good thing we aren't a 'gun' nation as I could see how things could escalate. So glad you are safe and sound and well done for your robust attitude towards such things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Maria. Guns would not have helped the situation at all, especially as these are just kids chancing their arm. We have plenty of petty theft and youth crime in Rotterdam too, but I've never felt in any danger from it. It just goes with the territory of a large urban area.

      Delete
  5. Gosh Val ~ I'd have been terrified! Well done Koos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was being very heroic, even if it was over reacting just a tad :)

      Delete
  6. Hi Val - I guess if you're used to that sort of thing in Rotterdam then life goes on (sort of) ... but how funny about the intruder wanting you to be French ... life is full of interesting anecdotes - and yes you should write a 'chap book' on vandal's accepted behaviour in a 101 languages!! I'd be glad Koos was around though ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, Hilary. I like that! 101 translations for acceptable Vandal verse :)

      Delete
  7. Hilarious Val....oh the indignation of being caught and that not in French ...hrrrrummmphh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, yes! He was most put out, poor lamb :)

      Delete

Apologies for switching on comment moderation, but this is to make sure everyone can comment without jumping through captcha hoops! However, anonymous comments will not be published, so please would you sign your name.