The girl with the blue beret

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself having to wait for an hour in a café outside West Ham tube station. West Ham, it has to be said is not the most welcoming place I have ever been to.

Within a few minutes of sitting outside the cafe, a shiny BMW was pulled over by a police paddy wagon. As the well-dressed black driver politely answered the police questions, a hostile crowd of black youths gathered. They hurled insults and abuse at the police officers, accusing them of racial bias, ignorance and general malintent. Eventually 8 nervous looking police officers ended up ineffectively trying to calm the increasingly agitated crowd down.

Not long after this, another police van hurriedly pulled up and arrested two excitable youths from inside the tube station and carted them away, kicking and screaming.  As this scene faded, a battered volvo screeched up 3 feet in front of me and in less than 60 seconds, the passenger had efficiently carried out 4 quick drug deals and was gone.

Finally, another police van screeched to a halt and rushed inside the tube station and came out with a very bored looking, handcuffed male in this thirties. At first he refused to walk so two burley coppers propelled him, by his elbows to the van, whispering sweet profanities in his ear. He eventually acquiesced and decided to walk to the waiting van by his own volition.

As he stood head bowed, passively waiting for the back doors of the police van to be opened, a gorgeous little girl of about 7, wearing a bright blue beret skipped towards him on the pavement. She stopped and looked at him and the police officers for a few seconds with big bright blue eyes and asked ’oooooooooooo, what did you do?’ The man didn’t answer but he looked at the police officers pleadingly, willing them to open the doors quicker. The little girl’s mother quickly steered the girl away from the scene and down the road.

Even now, a couple of weeks later I find myself constantly thinking of that scene and the little girl’s question. That act of pure innocence by her seemed to me, in that moment to make the world a better place to live in. Every time I think of it, it fills me with sunshine and makes me smile like a fool. Still, I am honestly not sure why it made such a big impression on me?

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