I'm one of those people. Doctors and the Police often talk about us. Apparently they never ever see us. Doctors maybe at the very end, when you're about to die, but the Police never. My mate (who's a GP) once asked me when the last time was I'd been to see a Doctor. I couldn't remember. And there's the nub apparently. I'm a bloke. I get ill and I sweat it out. I've been to hospital once as an 8 year old with a broken left arm and that's it. I hate being ill. It scares me. I think it could be anything from Cancer to some Dickensian disease that will eat my liver and cause me to vomit my own lungs. It's usually flu and a few paracetamols later and I'm up and about again. Apparently, GP's tend to see the same people all the time. They do. A revolving door of hypochondriacs and attention seekers. Where as the rest of us tend to live by the philosophy of not really wanting to know what that lump or bump is, hoping it will just go away. Same with the Police. Another mate of mine (yeah I got two) once said to me, very candidly, that if he could get rid of two families in the town where he worked then the crime rate would drop 90% in one go. I said..'Really?'...'Oh yeah' he replied as he finished his pint. 'You never really meet ordinary people. Just the same few scroats over and over. It's really rather boring if I'm honest'.
Which is why it's quite shocking what I did the other morning right outside a West London tube station (the names will have to be changed to protect the innocent...and there's CCTV to think of). What happened was, I was on my way to work, same as every other morning and as I got my Oyster card from my pocket without knowing something dropped out. A receipt for an Indian Meal I'd had the night before. As I entered the Station a man stopped me. He wasn't a Copper, but had a Yellow Day-Glo reflective vest, peaked hat and something about 'Community Support Supervising Law Enforcer of the Local Vicinity and Surrounding areas'. He actually flashed me a badge and said..'Sir, I need to stop you'. I've been stopped before on the Tube. I must have that kind of face. That was by a real-life proper Policeman. He was plain clothed. But not really. They never are, are there? He had Brown Mac and a moustache. He couldn't have been less undercover if he's had a clap-board on saying...'Ello ello ello, what's going on 'ere then guvnor?'. That time it was because the alert colour had been heightened. Obviously being a pale Welshman with blue eyes and fair hair I was a prime suspect for being an undercover terrorist or maybe he thought I was Irish? Either way he clocked me, stopped me, asked where I was going (Uhh, Hammersmith for me tea) and I was on my way with a 'thank you sir'. But this day-glo vest guy was different, he already had some kind of officious looking notepad out.
Obviously being a pale Welshman with blue eyes and fair hair I was a prime suspect for being an undercover terrorist
I really tried at this point. I said..'Look mate I'm really sorry. I'll go and pick it up now'. No chance. Robocop was on me. 'Sorry sir the offence has been committed!'. I felt like I was on some Highway in Texas and I'd been pulled with a boot full of narcotics that would make Keith Richards blush. 'Ah, come on mate, London is full of gangs, violence and crime. Your not really gonna do me for dropping a receipt accidently are you?'. 'Afraid so Sir. There are bins clearly marked outside the station'. 'But I was walking along getting my Osyter card'. 'Sorry Sir, your name and address please?'. People were stopping to look at this point. It was right outside the entrance and I was ready to accept defeat. I sighed...'How much is the fine then mate?'. 'Fifty pound Sir.
I ran. Seriously. Something instantly exploded in my brain and a nanosecond later I was like Dai Green and hurting towards the barrier which I leapt with the grace of a gazelle. I swerved the top of the escalator and practically vaulted down the moving steps, pushing small children and families carrying suitcases the size of Peru out of the way. And the bastard was after me!! I got to the tube platform and thought. Shit, what are you doing? This is making it worse. I didn't care though. The adrenalin had kicked in and I was in the right. This was a fight between good and evil. The little man and the establishment. The Jedi and the Dark Side. I clocked him coming and discreetly ducked to the other platform going the opposite way from my work and I hid among the passengers. Silently moving further down with all the stealth of a trained assassin. Only I obviously wasn't because he clocked me. 'OI!' he shouted. Other passengers looked. I swear it was like some kind of film because the tube was pulling in and he had to come down the adjoining corridor. I leapt onto the train, heart pounding thinking..'Shut, you bastard things, shut'.......and they did. And he came crashing up to the glass. Everyone on the tube was looking at me as if to say..'Oh my god we're on a carriage with a psycho!'. He shouted that he'd get me at the next station. I turned to everyone and said...'He was after me because I dropped litter!...honest!'. No one talks on the tube. No one. They all turned away. Eye contact avoided. I had to get off the tube as soon as possible. We stopped just outside the station too. I began to sweat. Would they really hold a rush hour tube because of litter? The Driver then said it was a Red Light. I breathed a massive sigh of relief. I got off at the next stop. Crossed the road, sat on a wall and got my breath back.Then did something I've done only a hand full of times in London....I got a bus to work getting in 45minutes later but causing much mirth and laughter with my story of escape. They immediately started calling me Jonny Bourne. I realised though that I really wasn't cut out for the life of a Spy or a career criminal. I'd done something I'd never done before and ran away from authority instead of what was drilled into me as a kid and to just take it.
I felt rather good later. I thought, 'fair play to you, you were innocent and fifty quid is fifty quid and they already charge enough for the bastard tube anyway'. I wont be defeated by such big brother tactics and bullying no way. Although I have avoided the station ever since and wore a baseball cap when I travelled the next few days. After all, as Jason himself said (or would have I'm sure)....'A man cant afford to take chances. Even if it was for dropping a receipt for a Chicken Jalfrezi'.
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