Following my fight with the law (where they won by TKO) I have been comforted somewhat by the jaw-dropping reactions of other people. When I went to pay my £60 fine, I went to the wrong place – did you know courts weren’t just the rendezvous for the accused and the bewigged, but also where you have to go to pay a police fine? Horrific. The chap who took my ticket was at first annoyed because he was busy and I was an interruption. I would have flashed some hopefully compensating cleavage but a) I was pretty bundled up owing to the Arctic weather conditions and b) there really is an age when we ladies need to stop that and I am nearly that. Instead, I smiled sweetly, positioned him as knight in shining and explained my plight.
When he took my ticket, he didn’t seem to understand what was going on and the look of puzzlement on his face made me nervous as I thought maybe there was more fallout to follow – perhaps I would have to go downstairs to join the other accused, and I wasn’t wearing a shell suit. He went off and consulted two of his colleagues, the second immediately dusted off an official and ancient looking tome which the three of them then crowded around to consult. Now you may or may not already know this but when I get nervous or frightened, my natural reaction is anger, which normally does not help. I start to bellow, which I never do otherwise, and tell people that they are ‘ridiculous and absurd’, which in turn makes them angry and the whole thing can descend into a real pickle. My mother who had come with me for support was by this time crooning a lullaby to ensure that I kept my calm, probably conscious that there were lots of police milling around. When the chap came back, he explained that this was unusual and asked me why I had received the ticket. I told him and – there is no other way to describe it – he guffawed and shook his head. Recognising an ally, I told him of my now indignant anger at the way I had been treated by the two officers and the severity of my punishment and he told me that although mine was unusual, his days were filled processing ridiculous and absurd police tickets. I said ‘surely not’ and ‘you poor thing’ to encourage him to reveal more. He went on to explain that some police just like to bully people and others are so desensitised by their job that they can no longer distinguish between a crime and a mistake or recognise a mitigating circumstance. I felt so much better having spoken to him.
I was brought up to respect the police but I am not completely naive. I recognise that there is going to be a percentage of the police force that joined up not out of a sense of civic duty, or a compulsion to protect and serve but because they need the power a uniform and position gives them. It protects them as bullies and thugs. In the past whenever I have heard other people deride the police I have always jumped to their defence partly because I believe they do provide ‘the thin blue line’ which society needs, but mainly because I am grateful they are there instead of me. There is no pay packet large enough for me to deal with football hooligans and rapists and all the other nastiness. Even if they armed me, I wouldn’t do it. But I have been horrified to hear stories of how the police can and do abuse their position. A friend of mine told me about his work colleague who had been stopped in her car by the police and accused of using her mobile phone. A couple of button pushes established her innocence in seconds but not before she endured 20 minutes in the back of a police car with two officers ‘shouting’ at her, their final word being “We will get you next time.” Apparently this girl is now so frightened of ‘the next time’ she locks her handbag and phone in the boot of her car before she drives anywhere, which leaves her at risk if she ever needed to use her phone for an emergency.
Ridiculous and absurd, but I have a new insight as to why some people may not enjoy the company of the boys in blue.