Monday, February 08, 2010

Not waving...

Mr Danny Baker's most recent Saturday morning show on the BBC wireless featured a very serious item: he asked whether anyone had ever been told off as an adult. This reminded me of an encounter with Her Majesty's filth some 30-odd years ago that was in stark contrast to the utter professionalism I encountered from the Cheshire Police on Thursday just gone. I would hasten to add that unlike the majority of my readership, I've led a sheltered existence and have never been run-in and most of my meetings with the law have been as a customer requiring a service. The only squeaky-bum time I can really remember was while living in a student house in 1980 when I'd somehow managed to allow my housemate's moped to get stolen after he'd charged me with picking it up from the garage the previous evening after college while he was off hitchhiking to Penzance for a bet, the investigating constables failing to notice my absent comrade's small collection of rather exotic flora flourishing in full view on the kitchen windowsill (which were later eaten (yes, eaten) by my future ex-wife in a deliberate, and successful, attempt to piss him off after he'd annoyed her). Those were the days.

No, this one happened a bit earlier the previous year, during the summer before I went up (to Rochester). Myself and a few friends, Jim, Polly, Dave (now the Very Rev Dean of Dover) and Dave's sister, Maria used attend all the Mighty Super Kent's home matches that were within reach of Ashford. This was our final summer together before we all went our separate ways (is this too Swallows and Amazons?) and we were now all young adults. Some of us had even just voted in our first general election. How exiting - we had a woman prime minister! This game was at Folkestone. If anyone is familiar with the Folkestone cricket ground at Cheriton, they'll remember it's overlooked by a couple of very large hills, one of which is called "Caesar's Camp". Now the channel tunnel railway terminal is the dominant feature between the hills and the town but back in 1979 it was a bit easier to drive about through the villages of Newington and Peene to get to the top of the hills for a cracking view and then back down into town for the game.

The previous day we'd been sitting in the stands (for the benefit of my colonial readership, the "bleachers") watching walkers on the top of the hill. I bet my friends that I would be able to stand up there and see them waving at me the next morning, without the benefit of binoculars. Yes, OK, if you insist, they enthused wildly. So, next morning I coaxed my aging and protesting Honda SS50 sports moped along the nearest thing Kent has to an alpine pass and found a reasonable point to gain access to the top of the hill. There was nowhere to park the bike and anyway, the prop stand was a bit dodgy so I leant it against a fence and hopped over the stile. It was a fine sunny morning, the view was magnificent and there was the cricket ground down there next to the football ground, behind Tesco's (now a Morrisons, I think). I started waving. I waved a bit more, a trifle more animatedly. I gave it a couple more minutes of waving. I couldn't really see anything in the ground so maybe it hadn't been all that wise. But anyway, it had been a nice little excursion and the view had been wonderful. I turned round to head back down the hill and immediately noticed a blue Escort van parked behind my steed.

As I got closer I saw the side panel bore some badly applied and peeling white plastic lettering spelling out "Police". There was someone in the driver's seat. Oh bugger. I hope he doesn't look too closely at the bike. There are bad bits on it, poorly repaired bad bits that don't work properly, like the brakes and stuff. I saw he was wearing aviator sunglasses, just like the still recently departed Elvis. And he was chewing. He was also looking resolutely straight ahead. Chewing. I stifled a laugh. The big new hit on the telly was Dukes of Hazzard and was that a Confederate flag I just caught a glimpse of? Cleatus muttered something, still without turning towards me: "Are you Richard S of X Farm, Y Road?" "Yes, I am. How did you know?" I replied, stupidly ignoring the proliferation of aerials sticking out from the roof. "I ask the questions." he slurred. And with that, he slowly turned, motioning his head towards the small blue nylon bumbag I was wearing around my waist containing my wallet and stuff, the sun glinting off the frames of his beetle eyes and asked the singular most ridiculous sounding question I think I've ever been asked by an adult. With hindsight, I could see where he was coming from, but even so.

"You got a ferret in there, boi?"

4 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Dave said...

My word! What a life you've lived.

Folkestone cricket ground eh?

6:58 pm  
Blogger The Birdwatcher said...

Makes may run in with the Nazi's in london look tame by comparision.

7:58 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Dave, yes, back in the days when Kent had about 7 outgrounds. Folkestone, scene of the fiercest (and probably best) shot I've ever witnessed at a game; the great (and he was, forget all the match fixing rubbish) Asif Iqbal hooking Hallam Mosely, I think, for six. It was still rising when it hit and dislodged a ridge tile on the roof of the stand at square leg.

BW danger is my consort.

11:49 am  
Blogger Rog said...

Very amusing Richard.
I used to work for a bloke who styled himself on Boss Hogg.

5:28 pm  

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