Friday, March 09, 2018

Provincial Terror

It is a very odd feeling to see events with international repercussions unfold in somewhere you know well.  For the past week I've watched my home town become the centre of a major international incident as what was originally reported by the local paper as two addicts suffering from an overdose being whisked to hospital, develop into an apparent assassination attempt on a retired Soviet double agent, using nerve agents.  Having been born and grown up in Salisbury, it all seemed incredibly surreal to see footage of people clad in NBC suits hosing down park benches in the Maltings shopping centre.  Salisbury has always been a quiet provincial market town famous for its cathederal spire and proximity to Stonehenge.  It wasn't a bad place to grow up, but nothing ever happens there.  The closest thing to a terror incident to occur was that time a 'device; was found on that horrible piece of modern sculpture in the Cathederal Close, following an anonymous phone threat to blow it up, back in the seventies.  The 'bomb' turned out to be an old custard tin with wires sticking out of it, containing some women's underwear.  Oh, and there was that time someone stuck a potato up the exhaust pipe of a police car in an attempt to disable it in a blow against 'the man'.  (The end result was lots of revving when the cop car was started, followed by a huge bang and the car flying in one direction, the potato in the other).

Back in the days of the first Gulf War, one my brothers and I tried to simulate a Scud missile attack using fireworks in order to liven things up but, sadly, no mass panic ensued.  So, I was understandably perplexed to see this spy poisoning incident suddenly develop into a major crisis.  I mean, the closest thing to chemical warfare ever experienced in the city when I lived there was when someone sent some dog shit in a box through the post to headmaster of my school.  (They never did trace the typewriter the address label was typed on).  Indeed, having read the initial report on the Salisbury Journal website (as just featured on Channel Four's The Last Leg), I thought nothing of it until the next morning, when I wondered why Salisbury was trending on Twitter.  Naturally, I decided to follow the story on the Journal website, to get the local perspective and read all those comments by the local knee jerk reactionary whack jobs.  (To be fair, the ones on the Journal website aren't as rabidly moronic as those on the Crapchester equivalent).  Ultimately, the whole affair has left me suspecting that it has all been staged by the local Chamber of Commerce to make Salisbury seem a more interesting place and give it some international exposure.  It's no crazier than ramping up international tension by accusing the Russian government of orchestrating it all, despite having no evidence whatsoever.

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