We spent a day with Redland’s soul-searching community in an attempt to gain a better understanding of Bristol’s next big health crisis.
Charles, a semi-retired lawyer and full-time narc, stares wistfully out of the large french windows which overlook the drive of his Redland townhouse. A Range Rover sits idle on the drive, but it is clear that Charles isn’t appreciating the majesty of his oversized SUV. “I remember the days when I’d be making three, four or maybe even five complaints to the university and police respectively about student fun in the area. I’d spend whole evenings listening out for the sounds of laughter and music, and then report it immediately to the police. But it’s all changed.” As Charles reflects on the new covid reality a marked change in tone presents itself. Transitioning from proud nostalgia to angered regret, Charles is clearly grappling with the fact that Redland just isn’t what it used to be.
From shouting at young people, sometimes toddlers, on the downs to watching YouTube videos of parties being shut down, Charles has tried to recreate the “thrill of spoiling someone’s evening and wasting police time. To Charles, however, it has become painfully obvious that simulating the real thing is an impossible task.
This change in daily life is especially hard on a group of people who have, almost imperceptibly, built a whole identity upon neighbourhood vigilantism casting students as public enemy number one. Charles uses a pertinent, though not quite as relatable as he thinks, thought experiment to convey his plight; “imagine how Batman would be feeling if The Joker were permanently killed and then times that emptiness by a thousand”. Truly harrowing stuff.