Have you ever had your mug-shot taken, been finger-printed, and then found yourself banged up in a cold, dank, hard-benched cell to rot? It's not at all nice, you know.
Not to mention undignified.
Particularly when you are wearing nothing but a police jacket over your basque and fishnets.
Well I was innocent, of course. Seriously, I was (well, "ish", anyway)! Let's just say the crime didn't fit the time, okay? It was all merely a terrible mis-understanding.
Oh, my cheeks still burn as I type!
Despite being in-between
And it was, except for the seating arrangements. At the sit down meal, good old Yve (the birthday girl) stuck me between this recently divorced, middle-aged woman and her son. I think they used to be her neighbours, or something. Oh, they were pleasant enough, I made nice. But he was nothing short of drippy, kept brushing up against my thigh whilst peering down my cleavage, and here, on the other side of me was his dear old ma, she who didn't stop to draw a gasp of breath, for all her talking at me. I guessed she didn't get out much, it was nerves that made her prattle, but that didn't make her any the less wearing to be lumbered with. Once the plates cleared I was happy to lose both to the dance floor, and mingle on.
Several hours, and more than a few glasses of wine down the line, I made to get ready to bid my goodbyes, the friend offering me a lift home had signaled she was set to depart. That's when Yve begged a favour of us. Jackie and her son were finding it difficult to find an available cab. If they could hitch a ride with us, would I mind letting them call a taxi from my place? It was on their way, and finding a cab would be easier once we were outside the West End.
It seemed the decent thing to do.
"Sure," says I, "Not a problem."
So off we hauled on our merry way. My friend duly deposited us outside my flat, and we waved her off with thanks.
You need to understand, it's now fast approaching 3am, and the buzz of the party is slowly wearing off. I am tired, a little parched, and can feel the faint promise of a pulsing hang-over starting to ferment. Jackie hadn't stopped jabbering her jaw from Piccadilly to Putney, and was showing little sign of letting up. Lurch had been copping a sly feel all the ride back, if I'd had found the energy I might have clocked him one. I simply couldn't wait to load them both off on their way.
What the stupid woman had neglected to tell me (I didn't expect her son to, he obviously had much too much trouble tripping over his sticky, lecherous tongue to attempt burdening it with speech), was that she lived almost a further thirty miles on from me. That's why they couldn't get a taxi, no London cabbie wanted to touch the fare. I think I must have phoned through the entire telephone directory before I was done.
Forget sleeping over, no way was I waking up come the morn to face pervy Lurch-boy and this demented mother of his.
There was nothing else for it. Kicking off my killer-high, shiny-red stilettos, I donned my fluffy slippers, grabbed my car keys and grudgingly marched them back down to the street. I had no idea where we were going, neither it appeared, did they. I only carried an A-Z of London in the car (even then it was only for show, I can't read a map to save my life), and as they lived somewhere in the depths of deepest Surrey, it proved little help.
After what had to be at least a year, and then some, of taking wrong turns, finally, that gormless lump of a son of hers proved worthy of not being drowned at birth, and spotted a recognisable landmark. He signaled by digging me hard in the back from behind. I bore no grudge, I knew it was the only way to alert me over the full blast roar of Jackie's (now near-hysterical) cackle. Catching on to his excitement, she followed his flapping arms and agreed.
"Oh, yes! Yes, Pete's right! Oh, clever boy, Pete!"
Thank God I had set off with a full tank of petrol, it had never occurred to me to take my purse along. By now, 5am, I am so relieved to get shut of them, I don't give a damn that it may take me a week to find my route back again. I cranked the music up and wound a window down, following my wheels for a sign of where to go.
Okay, I admit it, I may have taken my eye off the speedometer. But hey, the streets were deserted, and I just wanted to get home. Well, almost deserted, there seemed to be a plank behind me driving far too close up my bum for comfort. From the periphery of my eye, I saw him draw alongside me at the traffic lights. Oh, pul-eeeze, I am not in the mood here. He was obviously trying hard to attract my attention.
I darted a sideways scowl.
OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD - SHIT!!!!
I hadn't heard the sirens above the music, but I have no excuse for not recognising the fluorescent-striped Panda car.
He signaled me to pull over to the cemetery on our left.
"For a moment there, I thought you were trying to lose me, Miss." Said Mr. Smiley-Policeman.
"Uh, why would I want to do that?" Innocently said Ms. I-am-so-fucked-and-I-know-it.
"Because after chasing you for over ten minutes, you just took the last roundabout at over eighty miles an hour."
"Oh, surely not, officer? Really?"
"Would you mind stepping out of the car please, Miss?"
(Sure, I would just love to step out in broad daylight by these cemetery gates, freeze my arse off, and model my pointy little "raunchy-whore get up" for you, going so fetchingly as it does with my stare-of-the-art, Nora-Batty-style, fluffy slippers.. what's there to mind?)
"Have you been drinking at all, recently?"
"Oh, just a wee, small glass of wine.. or, er, maybe two."
I know, I know, I know, how daft can you get? I'd be useless under real interrogation, so's I would.
In actual fact, I felt as sober as a judge by now, so I wasn't in the least bit fazed when he pulled out his little Breathalyzer kit.
To my defence, even he said I was unlucky it chose to fall so marginally over the limit.
Here I am at 5am, outside the cemetery gates in this ridiculous get-up, my fluffy slippers growing soggier by the minute in a puddle of rain (did I mention it's raining, now?), and despite being convinced I am as sober as a judge, I find myself arrested on the suspicion of drunk-driving.
Could life get any better?
As I didn't even know exactly where we were, I took great umbrage at having to leave my car behind, especially as I was forced to hand my keys over for the Mr. Smiley-Policeman to better park up.
I arrived at the little sub-station to be processed by my arresting officer and his desk Sargent. The first order of business was to hook me up to the big brother of the little breathalyser I'd just failed. Theory is this one gives out a more accurate reading.
"Awww, how unlucky is that, eh?"
"Yeah, it's the closest call I've ever seen.."
"Yup, me too."
I was starting to feel I'd gate-crashed a skit from out of "The Secret Policeman's Ball". Now, if their sympathy could only run to handing me my keys back, I'd be happy to up and leave without so much as a harsh word.
Seems it doesn't work that way. Now they want to draw blood. My blood. Not only that, they want me to pay them for this privilege. Seriously.
"I strongly advise you allow us to call our duty doctor out for a blood sample."
"Why would I want do that?"
"Because between you and me, by the time he gets here, you'll almost certainly read under the limit again. If you don't give a sample, we'll have to accept the machine reading. It'll lose you your licence for a year, plus you'll be fined £200"
"Yeah, it's automatic, see.."
Oh, for the love of God. I needed a cup of tea. They made the phone-call, and Mr. Smiley-Policeman stuck the kettle on, as I allowed Mr. Less-Smiley-Policeman to take my fingerprints.
"Do you want to call anyone, let them know where you are?"
I explained I was still working on teaching my dog to pick up the phone. I imagined the poor mutt was probably evacuating her bowels as we spoke.
This opened the conversation to an exchange over our mutual pets, the breed, age, and names of which now escape me. I found myself peering at cute wallet photo's (is it just me, or is there something tragically sad about placing pictures of a dog in the space allocated for your nearest and dearest?). Once the pleasantries and tea were drained, I found myself ushered in front of a white backdrop.
"Can I brush my hair and apply a bit of lippie, first?"
"Aw, go on then, there's a mirror out the back."
Shit. What a time to remember you've left your lippie and all other worldly goods behind at the flat.
I wasn't allowed to give them my best side, they wanted my sunken sockets face on, then an equally unflattering shot of my pointy nose in profile. Thankfully, at least I was spared the indignity of holding out a number plate.
"Do you have any previous arrests?"
Bloody cheek! Who did they think they were dealing with here? I had them know I wouldn't receive the annual licence I needed to trade if I held any criminal record. Okay, it was perhaps an unfortunate wording in light of the fishnets and leather basque, but still, I didn't think it was that funny. I hurriedly explained that, no, I've never been arrested before.
I asked them where the loo was (the tea was taking it's toll).
"Er, I'm really sorry, you'll need to go in the cell for that."
I'm not proud. Well, I wasn't until I got there.
"You are having a laugh, aren't you? I'm not peeing in there!"
The loo faced straight on to the door, where a huge letterbox-shaped peep hole was in place.
"Oh, c'mon, we're not going to look."
Yeah, right. (I was not a happy bunny.)
The doctor finally turfed up to stab me. I was told I would be written with the lab results when they came through. I was offered a lift home, but opted for a taxi instead, knowing I could grab some cash from home to settle the fare. By now I was shivering, goosebumps had set over my flesh, I was cold, weary and just desperate to get myself away from there.
Mr. Not-So-Smiley policeman disappeared out the back, as Mr. Smiley-Policeman explained I could leave in a minute, they were just running my details through the computer. Ten minutes later, Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Policeman reappeared, except he had now turned into Mr. Frowning-Policeman.
Pulling Mr. Smiley-Policeman out of my earshot, they had a private word. Whispering together, they shook their heads and shot rather ominous looks in my direction .
Huh? (I wasn't daft, there was a definite shift in the atmosphere here.)
"Hmn, you've been a very naughty girl now, haven't you Shrinky?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Scotland has several outstanding arrests out for you, seems you've led us a fine old chase, haven't you?"
I was last in Scotland when I was only sixteen, now although I confess to some fuzzy memories of the time, I do think I am pretty certain I was never that bad.
They checked my full name, birth place and date of birth again, and Mr. Frowning-Policeman instructed Mr. Now-Losing-The-Smiliness Policeman to return me to the cell I had just recently christened.
This was ludicrous. Surreal. Straight out of a George Orwell novel. I protested it was too bloomin' cold to freeze my arse off in there, and was granted the huge favour of a spare jacket to cover over my shivering frame.
The door clanged shut.
I considered yelling out for my Lawyer. I did have one. He managed the legal side of my business. But I had a feeling I might need a more specialist kind of a one for this. My brain was hurting too much by this point. I reckoned I'd figure it out soon enough, bugger the lot of them. Settling my head down, I laid me down to snooze.
I don't know quite how long passed, but it must have been a while. I woke to a mug of tea and a bacon buttie thrust under my nose. Like I say, I'm not proud, I was hungry and happy enough to scoff it down.
Between bites, I asked his retreating back, "What is it you think I've done?"
"How tall are you?" Said the Mr. New-Policeman (the shift had apparently changed).
"What's your height?"
"Five foot, seven - why?"
The door clanged shut. Two minutes later, it re-opened.
"Okay, you can go now. Sorry about that."
"It was a case of mistaken identity, sorry about that. Er, 'fraid we're going to have to take the jacket back, Miss."
"Can't I just hang on to it for a bit, drop it back later?"
As he dialed me a cab, I peeled it off. "So, what was I supposed to have done, then?"
"I'm not at liberty to say, miss, sorry. But you sure were unlucky, talk about a coincidence.. there is someone wanted out there for some pretty serious stuff, you know, and she has the exact same date of birth, place of birth and full name as you do! Amazing, isn't it? Mind, you are five inches taller. If you ever get arrested again, it might be worth you mentioning that the next time. Oh, that and your fingerprints don't match, a lucky break for you, eh."
He even had the temerity to wink at me as he said this.
I'm nothing short of fuming.
The next day my arresting officer called asking for a date. I told him, if it was all the same with him, I'd sooner see him in court.
I didn't as it happened.
The blood results proved negative, and the charges were withdrawn.
A week later the bill for it landed up at my door. I paid, bearing no grudge, figured it was a fair enough trade for also losing the speeding charge.
In the cold light of day, I can't complain at my treatment. I didn't want the blood test, it was only down to their urging that I was persuaded to go for it. It could have turned out a whole lot worse.
I often wonder what ever became of my evil short-arsed twin.
Footnote: A few years back, my mate, Yve, invited me back to her fortieth. Guess who was there? You can rest assured, I kept well clear of both Jackie and of her (still tongue-tied and every bit as much as pervy) son that night.
I know, I know, I am such a lazy, crappy blogger, and YES the Re-Post Queen has only gone and struck yet again, What can I say? Anything worth publishing once, is always worth the thrusting out of again ('specially when I'm so busy writing The Great Novel, as I am right now..) I'll make it up to you next time round, promise! xx