Friday morning. I hear voices outside the tent. I repeatedly roll over in my sleeping bag on the hard ground; half-asleep, half-awake; for what seems like the best part of an hour, trying in vain to find a comfortable position to lie. On the bright side, my hangover doesn’t seem too bad, considering. My mate Zak is the first to rise. Reaching for his phone and wallet, he turns to me. “Matt,” he says, “I think someone’s been inside the tent while we were asleep.”
We quickly discover someone has been inside the tent. And that that someone has nicked £120 from Zak’s wallet. And that that someone has not just stolen my wallet (with £160 my bankcard, bodcard and driving licence inside), but my passport as well. Leaving me with no form of photo ID. Not ideal when you’re planning on flying home on Monday evening. Fuck. Add some more fucks to that fuck and you might get a clearer picture of my immediate reaction.
After calming down, I cancel my bank card and inform my campmates of what happened. Then, eventually, nothing left to do but shrug my shoulders and reach for a beer. The show must go on- I’ll borrow money off my mates and make the best of it. I’ve never been a huge fan of the ‘shit happens’ school of philosophy- but in some situations, it really is the best approach.
After this rude awakening, you may be pleased to hear, things did get dramatically better. There was music on Thursday night, including a performance at the Big Top from M.I.A, but things began in earnest on Friday, with a three o clock performance from rap collective Wu Tang Clan, who packed out the main stage. Indeed, these middle-of-the-day performances from big acts- I sang along to Bastille watching from much the same position at two on the Saturday- proved to be a real hit with the punters and provided a useful filler between campsite craic (or banter, if you prefer) sessions. Other festivals, take note.
The peak of the festival for me was Saturday night. Headliner Snoop Dogg (as he was tellingly listed on the programme) did indeed prove to be more Dogg than Lion. Whilst he came out to ‘Here Comes the King’, this was preceded by instrumentals of ‘California Love’ and ‘S.T.I.L.L. D.R.E’ and his set as a whole was definitely (and thankfully) more hip-hop than reggae flavoured. Immediately after Snoop, I paid a visit to the Replay tent to hear poetry and stand-up from the Bard of Salford himself- John Cooper Clarke. As the Replay was a much smaller venue, I was able to stand just three people back from the great man, and the intimate setting suited his stellar performance down to the ground.
My favourite performance this year came last thing on the Saturday night; a grimy, bassy set from Redlight. The darkened Bollywood tent, shimmering in oh-so-appropriate red light, seemed made for the Bristol producer, whose set explored the realms of drum and bass, 2-step and dancehall. It was a real showcase for the best of UK dance music- and only soared higher for the last half-hour, where Redlight was joined by men-of-moment on the UK scene- Disclosure. Disclosure themselves had played a triumphant set on Friday at the Big Top, crowds stretching to the back and outside evidencing how far the brothers have come since their performance in the same tent last year.
The addition of a new stage this year- The Port, was a real success, as crowds flocked there, raving underneath a massive ship to some of the best DJs in the world. I was in attendance for a resounding and intelligent house set from Duke Dumont and (at least while the rain was off) I managed to catch some of Carl Cox.
Elton John’s headline performance on the Sunday night provided the opportunity for a good old-fashioned festival sing-along- we ended up knowing a lot more of his songs than we thought, or at least, the choruses of them. Classic stuff. This was followed by a fireworks display and a shower of confetti to mark the end of what once again, had been (the theft aside) a great few days on the Isle of Wight.
If you’re wondering how I got home, turns out Flybe accept Police reports in place of photo ID if you can produce a reference number. Getting robbed is never the best way to begin a festival (and not something I’d recommend to any friends, it’s really not that fun), but hey, it could have happened at any festival. And, you know, shit happens.
Armed robbery, motorbikes and smoke grenades. They sound like the key elements of a cheap movie instead of a Saturday shopping trip, but at 9.15am on 30th March two men armed with a pickaxe entered the Covered Market on a motorbike and attempted to smash their way into John Gowing Jewellers.
Police believe that a member of the public restrained one of the suspects, who then suffered breathing difficulties. At 9.22am the South Central Ambulance Service was called and the man was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in a critical condition. Police have now confirmed that the man died this afternoon, and have named him as Clint Townsend, 33, from Headington.
The other offender escaped on foot wearing a motorbike helmet with the visor down obscuring his face. According to Thames Valley Police, it is thought that he then boarded a bus in the city centre, getting off in the St Clements area.
Nothing was stolen.
Police have now arrested two men on suspicion of robbery and are holding them in custody.
Unconfirmed reports from people working nearby suggest that the robbery was supposed to happen under the cover of smoke but the smoke grenade failed to go off.
Meg, sales assistant in The Hat Box in the Covered Market commented that: “it was rather like a scene from James Bond.”
Andrew, the owner of a café nearby, expressed disdain for the robbers, pointing out that his shop had been robbed before and that this attempt was particularly badly executed.
Miles Dilworth, a fresher at Keble mused: “it is a great shock to hear of such a brutal situation in what I think is a particularly safe city, I’m from East London and this would be unusual even there.
“It also really saddens me that these criminals are targeting local shops run by hard-working people,” he added.
Detective Superintendent Chris Ward of Thames Valley Police issued this message: “This is very much still an active investigation and there are a number of people helping us with our enquiries…We have specially trained officers working with all those involved in this incident.”
He added: “If anyone has any information at all, no matter how insignificant they believe it to be, then I urge you to contact the police. This information might be vital to our investigation.”
If you have any information contact Det Sgt Matt Jarman via 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
PHOTO / jooliargh
Thames Valley Police have released CCTV footage of last month’s bank robbery in Summertown.
The footage shows two cars parked outside the Lloyds TSB in Banbury Road early on 19th January. Detectives said that the black hatchback and silver Vauxhall Zafira were pictured outside the bank at around 7.30am. Both cars then left in the direction of the city centre shortly after 8am.
The police also revealed that the robbers had a knife during the half-an-hour long raid, but the manager was not threatened with it.
Det Sgt Matt Jarman, from the Thames Valley Police, said: “I am hoping the images will help jog people’s memories as I am still appealing for witnesses to come forward. We are continuing to examine CCTV footage in the area. No arrests have been made as yet, but the inquiry is progressing.”
Police said the bank, as a member of the British Bankers Association, could offer a reward of up to £25,000 for information leading to the arrest of the people responsible for the robbery.
Andrew Foo, a third-year lawyer at St John’s said: “This piece of news, like the weather these days, is rather chilling. It happened so close to St John’s and really casts a shadow on the serenity of this idyllic university town. I’m glad that the police are doing something about it and hopefully they can bury this Banbury incident quickly.”
Oxford has recently been hit by a spate of robberies. On Sunday evening, a 23-year-old man was a victim of an armed robbery in East Oxford. The man was walking along Rectory Road when he was assaulted and stabbed in the leg by three men who stole his mobile phone and wallet.
A resident of Regent Street in East Oxford said: “It is worrying that there has been a rise in the incidences of armed violence in Oxford these days. It truly is a sign of the times we live in – with the dire economic situation and the high unemployment.
“I think I’ll just have to keep extra vigilant when I go out now and also avoid coming home late at night. But then again I worry about the safety of my own home. If Lloyds can be robbed, nothing is safe these days. Hopefully the police will tighten the security of the city.”
Two men are on the run after robbing the Banbury Road branch of Lloyds TSB and assaulting its 51-year-old manager last Thursday.
According to Thames Valley Police, the men waited for the manager to arrive, and at 7:40am forced their way inside as he unlocked the door. They are reported to have had a knife in the bag they brought with them, but did not use it, slapping the manager instead and forcing him to hand over a large sum of money from the bank’s walk-in safe. He was left without injury following the assault, but was treated for shock by paramedics at the scene.
They then locked him inside the safe, where he was discovered two hours later by police after another bank employee raised the alarm. They escaped in a black hatchback and a silver Vauxhall Zafira according to police.
The men are said to have been wearing black masks covering their mouths and noses; the first suspect is described as being white, around 30 years old, 5ft 10ins tall, with a grade one shaved head and an unshaved face. The second man is black, 25 years old, 6ft, with tight curly hair and is described as having “thin features”. He was also wearing some kind of head covering. The incident occurred on 19th January.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hayles has described the incident as lasting “about 30 minutes”, and said: “I am appealing for anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously around the premises before, during or after the incident, or anyone who saw either of these two cars head into the city centre, to contact police as soon as possible.”
Detective Inspector Simon Morton stressed the unique nature of the incident, telling The Oxford Mail: “It’s really rare for a bank to be robbed – it’s more like the ’80s than 2012. We’re not only looking locally, but nationally for similar offences and are scouring CCTV. I’ve got eight detectives on the case.” He also described the men as “quite calm and very directing.”
Michelle Degli Esposti, a second year psychologist at Teddy Hall, said she felt that “for a city, Oxford is very safe, and maybe people take that for granted- hence why security appears to have been so slack at the bank.”