Thursday, 27 September 2012

Allo, Allo, Allo Now What's Going On Here? My Many Brushes With The Law

Not many people can say they have been searched for by the head of the Metropolitan Police (or the Comissioner of Police of the Metropolis to be absolutely correct) in person. When on my gap year or two in Australia,  I had been having such a good time that letters or any form of communication home had become non-existant. My worried parents mounted a search party and as luck would have it, the future top policeman, who was then just Chief Constable of a regional force, happened to be going out to Brisbane on holiday.

He arrived equipped with my last known address, the appropriately named London Road - no number - no suburb - simply London Road, Brisbane, Queensland. However on arrival in Brisbane, he discovered that there were many London Roads and London Streets. Undeterred he set off and managed to go to all bar the one I was actually living in. He never found me. Nonetheless it was a remarkable achievement for anyone to spend some of their precious holiday searching for a semi-dysfunctional son who was living too much of the good life.

It would be economical with the truth to say that it was my first 'brush with the law.' At the age of five I remember a Squad car (pictured above) coming to the door. Though I look remarkably calm and interested, I seem to recollect that was just a veneer and I ran off into the bushes and hid. I was petrified they had come to arrest me for a succession of evil deeds over the last few months;

- asking my mother whether she liked bonfires. When she said yes I went and put a match to the tablecloth ....... while it was still on the table,

- stealing an extra 3d bit when I had already been given the bus fare,

- locking an elderly nanny in the cupboard under the stairs. Fortunately she was burly enough to push the door so hard that the hinges broke and nanny, the door and a whole lot of other stored stuff came flying out and landed in a heap on the floor,

- and probably the worst was going into the wood, do a No. 2, carefully wrap it in wrapping paper and hand it to my grandmother telling her that I had a present for her.

No wonder I ran off at the sight of the Police. I was an evil child at best. It didn't get any better as I got older. Dysfunctionality as a teenager abroad was forseeable on past performance. Later I was put in my place by a policeman. It was on New Year's Eve, just outside Trafalgar Square. It was 1982, the year when two women were crushed near the barriers. It caused massed panic and the crowd turned and ran. It was one of the most frightening things I have ever been in. You had no control, having to walk fast in the direction being pushed from behind by a huge weight. Blimey, I thought, if I fall or trip now, I'm a gonner. One of the girls in our party did just that and the crowd ignored her and trampled her like a cattle stampede. I managed to hold her hand. As the crush abated, one man stood on her and remained standing on her so that he could get a better view. I swore at him. Obviously I swore loudly because he immediately got off and from behind a John Nash Regency pillar protruded a helmet head.

'Oi, you,' yelled the policeman. 'You with that language must have gone to school at Harrow.'

In a bizarre moment, I forgot about all the mayhem around me and felt briefly despondent, before laughing. I had been to school at 'the other one' Harrow's deadliest rival. I wandered off to find a bar which would, in the most unlikely event be open, with a warm glow inside me.

In times of adversity the British are still the best.  

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