Groups of young, noisy and quarrelsome drunks are not uncommon in our street. Usually it's about 3am, the club's just shut, and they're making their way home. This time it's about 1.30am on Easter Monday. It's so common, you wouldn't normally call triple-0.
But the woman's screams continue. Is she being raped? I get up, and peer out the windows. A taxi has pulled up and switched on its hazard lights. In its headlights, some young fellows are wandering around, dazed or drunk.
Then the police cars arrive. Under the flashing blue and red lights, two police give first aid to someone unconscious on the roadway. I can hear moaning, but it's not from there. Fifty metres up the road is another police car, lights flashing, and beside it police are giving first aid to another person lying on the road, blood seeping from his body. He's the one giving a long, soft, intermittent moan.
After the ambulances depart, I talk to a policeman. He tells me the first victim is in a bad way. On the road, where they'd treated him, is a broken fence paling. I look at our front gate.
The thugs have torn two palings from it. One paling per thug, while the others used their boots.
The officer tells me the club has just closed.
As the caricature at the top of this page suggests, I've had my problems with alcohol. But these days, all bar staff must hold an RSA – that's responsible service of alcohol – ticket, mustn't they?
Here's what the NSW Office of Liquor, Gambling and Racing says about RSA:
As part of responsible service of alcohol, venues must prevent drunkenness,minors accessing liquor, and understand that irresponsible liquor practices lead to problems both on and off the premises.
Responsible service of alcohol training is now mandatory for people working in the NSW liquor industry, including licensees, club secretaries, permanent and casual serving staff, and security staff.
Note added April 12: After reading this post, one of my sons with managerial experience in the hospitality industry rang to say bar staff cannot always be blamed. Some people can behave responsibly in a bar, because they know service will be cut off if they don't, yet still prove to be violent and aggressive out on the street. Despite their RSA training, it's often hard for staff to decide whether to stop service. Drunkenness is not always obvious.
Also, I've learned that one victim was discharged from hospital the next morning. The other remained, and is likely to have permanent injuries from a ruthless kicking.
Detectives have yet to lay charges. Part of their problem may be that the first police to arrive had to give first aid to the victims rather than round up those thugs who had staggered off into nearby streets.
Note added April 16: Gosford detectives are still investigating the bashings outside my front fence. Meanwhile, the violence goes on. Less than a week later, a man is critically injured in the next suburb, apparently at a well-known gathering spot for hoons near the Umina .