November 12th, 1998.

Another night in Birkenhell.

You know the time has come to move out of your home when a large drunk man wielding a big knife comes to your door shouting something about "cutting Porky's throat". This is exactly what has just happened to me. Some large beered up scally, with an equally well-proportioned knife in hand, has just come to my apartment building and presented with several doorbells to ring he deemed it logical to ring bell 1, which happens to be mine.

Receiving visitors at gone midnight isn't something that concerns me, or at least it never used to be, but lately, I have taken to putting on my deepest and gruffest sounding voice to ask in as intimidating a fashion as I can muster, "Ooo izit?"

This policy was introduced after I was brushed aside by a bunch of 'angry young men' looking to 'have a word' with my upstairs neighbor Peter (a.k.a. Rab). This 'word' didn't contain many words at all, and those it did contain are not repeatable in polite company. It did however contain much breaking of glass and crashing bodies against walls. I'd like to say I ran upstairs and saved my neighbor from a grisly end. However, I can't claim such an honor. Instead, I ran straight back into my flat closed and then locked the door before calling for the assistance of our local 'long arms'.

A few minutes later, with a sound that resembled an angry herd of buffalo, Peter's visitors came down the stairs and made their way back to wherever it was they came from. I scurried up the stairs to administer life-saving first aid to my almost certainly dead neighbor. Instead though, as I barged through the door, I wasn't greeted by the bloody site of a gruesome murder, but instead a slightly messy flat and my neighbor, Pete, pouring himself a cup of tea!

Sometime later, when the incident was almost as old as an episode of MASH, the long arm of the law sent their promised emergency assistance. A single policewoman armed with nothing more fierce than a bad hair day! I explained to her that the 'emergency' was now over and that she ought to be thankful for this because she would have stood little chance against Peter's angry drunken 'friends.' She reassured me by saying if she thought the situation was beyond her control she would have waited in the car for backup! - Great! My neighbor is in a possible fight for his life and Constable Quiver is sitting downstairs in her car waiting for moral support to arrive!

Be that as it may, tonight's incident once again warranted a call to the boys (and girls) in Blue. After little more of a minute listening to my newfound friend outside shouting something about how I should open the door before he "comes through it", I decided that I'd give Merseyside Police a chance to redeem themselves. I had already seen the oaf outside was carrying a large knife and from the noises, he made that I could understand, I felt that he was not only serious but also probably big and angry enough to make it through the door.

With the gorilla outside throwing himself at my front door with increasing force, I couldn't help but feel that intelligent people in Birkenhead should be issued with pump-action shotguns! The call to 999 seemed to be taking way too long and the noise of the would-be disgruntled drunk houseguest was getting ever louder.

However, I have to say that Birkenhead Police did themselves a big service in not only turning up quickly but also turning up in extreme force. I didn't count the number of cars that arrived outside, nor the amount of gun-carrying uniformed cop soldiers that seemed to leg it up my pathway with more speed than Ben Johnson on steroids. They banged on the door furiously shouting, "This is the Police" to which I opened the now heavily footprinted entrance.

It's a routine that I am sadly now well practiced in. Eight policemen all asking you urgent questions about your health, your name, your flat number, your neighbors, what the guy looked like, whether he was drunk, how big was the knife, etc. A few of them ran down into the park via an entrance next to my house shining flashlights into the gloom like excited cub scouts on a late-night trail.

Before I was calm, now, however, my heart was pumping blood around my body with a newfound urgency. Policemen carrying machine guns would surely make even the hardest of Birkenhead thugs just a little nervous. I answered their questions and then praised their snappy response. And this was when they gave the game away.

Just minutes earlier he had stabbed someone not far away from my house. He was known to the police as a character not to be messed with. They also reassured me that I had taken the best course of action in not opening the door to him, a handy pointer that I will try to remember the next time an angry knifeman comes knocking at my door in the dead of the night.

Most of the other policemen rushed off to continue the search apart from two who stayed to look a little closer at my door for me, to see if it was still safe. As they did this they got notified on the radio that the suspect had been apprehended in his car just down the street.

As quickly as they arrived they were gone, only shouting "At least we'll have him for drunk driving!" as they rushed down the pathway back into their patrol car. With that, I simply closed the door, came back into my flat, put the kettle on then sat down and wrote this.

The time to leave Birkenhead has well and truly come, because as if that story isn't worrying enough, what makes it more so is the fact that I wasn't at all fazed until the police turned up!