Friday, June 23, 2006

You're nicked mate!

Shit time yesterday. By which I mean it was time, once more, to collect samples of faeces from numerous rather startled looking lambs. My colleague whose full-time profession this is has not yet recovered from whatever nasty infection laid him low so many months ago. He can do about a half day's work, then he's so knackered he has to take the next two off to recover. Some sort of post-viral fatigue is the best guess, but it's hit him hard. And for a man who has spent all his working life active, out and about, doing things, he's finding the enforced rest very troubling.

So I had to go back to St Davids again - by now my soul is so squeaky clean you can use it to read books under the covers after lights out. It takes two and a half hours to get to St Davids from here, and I had to be there at nine in the morning (farmers are weird that way), so once more with the unnecessarily early start to the day. Yesterday morning it was pissing it down with rain here, and cold with it. But in St Davids it was glorious sunshine and string-vested tourist weather, so I was rather overdressed in my plastic trousers.

I've done the route enough times to know where I'm going now, but it still takes a long time. After St Davids it was back to Haverfordwest, then to Carmarthen for some lunch and on to Pontardulais. I had a bit of time to kill before the next appointment, up in the Brecon Beacons, so I wasn't hurrying along as I drove through Llandeilo in the works beaten up old Land Rover (it smells of things I've yet to identify, but unpleasant nonetheless.) So how I managed to draw the attention of the local constabulary, I've no idea.

I suspected something was up when they followed me off the main road. Then they flashed me down. Pull over. I'm an honest and upstanding subject (not a citizen, we don't live in a republic here), so I complied of course, putting on my most innocent face as I wound down the window. There were two of them, a gnarly-faced, grey-haired old sergeant, no doubt with decades of street experience, and a young, slightly spotty constable who was trying, unsuccessfully, to grow a beard.

'Do you realise your brake light's not working sir?' Grey-haired, gnarly old sergeant had seen it all before, so I knew there was no point in trying to fool him. It was a fair cop, and I was nicked. But what a silly question. Should I reply: 'Why, yes, officer. But I have no respect for the law whatsoever and I delight in flouting it at every turn. Now piss off fuckface and go catch some real criminals.' ?

Of course I had no idea that the brake light didn't work. It's behind me, hidden from view by lots of dented aluminium sheeting smeared with whatever it is in the back that smells bad. Sure, I should maybe have checked it before leaving at half past six in the morning, but who ever does that? And besides, there was no-one around at that time to help.

It's no big deal, really. I was given a couple of forms - one to take to the local police station along with a valid MOT certificate and insurance documents, since I couldn't provide them at the time; the other to get stamped by a suitably certified garage to say that I had fixed the problem. It's a bit of a pain, but hardly the sort of thing to go to war over.

Then they get out the little box of tricks.

'I'm afraid we're going to have to breathalyse you, sir. It's just, you know, with the football and everything...' Constable designer stubble looked a bit embarrassed as he read out the standard nonsense about just what will happen to me if I fail to provide a sample at the roadside *. It's three o'clock in the afternoon and there's no way they could smell alcohol on my breath even if it were there - you can't get past the whiff of something horrible that's coming from the back of the Land Rover.

Still, I complied with their request, breathing long and hard into the beeping machine. It came up negative, of course, and then they kindly gave me the little plastic disposable breathing tube as a souvenir. That's two I've picked up from Dyfed Powys Police now.

Meantime, down the road, a violent burglar was terrorising an old lady into giving him the pin number for her cashpoint card by torturing her cats, Fluffymuff and Eric. She had yelled for help, and her neighbour, an elderly gentleman with no legs, had phoned the police, only to be told that they were all busy right now, and could he call back later.

Actually, no. That last bit's not true. And I don't have much time for the standard 'don't they have better things to do than hassle innocent motorists' line. My two policemen were polite and courteous as they did their job in exactly the pedantic manner required by the meddling legislative bureaucracy. OK, so once he had seen my driver's licence, grizzled old sergeant insisted on calling me 'James', rather than 'Sir', or 'Mr Oswald', but that was probably because his Chief Super had insisted on him going on some 'community integration' course or a workshop on 'officer/public liaison strategies'. All very nice, I'm sure, but I prefer public servants to call me 'Sir'. I'm old fashioned that way.

I really don't mind them taking time to flag me down and charge me with a moving vehicle violation, because that's what I was doing. I've got a fortnight to put the vehicle right and nothing more will be said of it. But for the fifteen minutes of my time it took, the two of them probably had to spend an hour in the station later on that evening processing the paperwork. In the past, they could have just given me a warning - just made me aware of the problem - and sent me on my way without further ado. Now, because they have to be accountable for every second of their shift, and have to meet targets, everything has to be recorded, double-checked and filed away in a massive database. That's the bit of it that pisses me off. That's the time wasted when they could be saving poor Eric and Fluffymuff from being used to prove just how small gran's sheltered accommodation really is.

Those fifteen minutes were about the most exciting thing that happened in twelve hours on the road. Three hundred miles in a crappy old Land Rover with no radio and a strangely satanic smell is enough to finish off anyone. By the time I got home and shoved the samples in the fridge to take to the lab the next day, I was pooped. Fortunately supper was a simple matter of reheating leftovers from Monday.

It was a struggle staying awake, but I did manage to write my daily minimum yesterday, though it remains to be seen whether those 1500 words are any good or not. I may have gone off at a bit of a tangent that will either mean a remapping of the story from here on, or a swift pulling back to the main plot. Or I can just say 'Arse!' and delete it all.

* they'll drive me back to the station and take the piss out of me. Or some blood.


Blogger CalabazaBlog said...

Nice Blog!!!!

June 23, 2006 11:52 am  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

It's only fair that they take the piss, after all, you'd been taking the crap all day. Poor sheep!

June 23, 2006 4:46 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

LOL Stuart.

June 23, 2006 7:27 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

I can't make up my mind whether CalazaBlog is spamming me or not. I guess he probably hit the 'next blog' button and was dealt my witterings by the random hand of fate. Still, he's got photos of toilets on his website and he doesn't seem to be trying to sell anything, so I'll let him stay.

Mr Stuart, I can only say I took what was given. There was no coercion involved, and certainly no finger winkling. Although there were teaspoons.

Sandra, I often laugh out loud at Mr Stuart. He's a bloke, you see. With a winkie and everything

June 23, 2006 8:25 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Though I should perhaps add that I only know that because he's admitted it, in public.

June 23, 2006 8:33 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm so glad you clarified that James. I didn't want to have the wrong idea, especially if you two left the bar together at Harrogate or anything.

June 25, 2006 3:26 am  
Blogger Trace said...

Poor James :( *HUGZ*

June 26, 2006 4:45 pm  

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