Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And this time I wasn't even in the fountain.

And this time I wasn't even in the fountain.

I step on to the platform at York station, Snow Patrol playing in my ears and my bag swinging on my arm in the manner which only occurs when life deals you one of those little quirks that makes the difference between a good and a great day. Because not having to pay for your train ride officially counts as a great day. And before anyone thinks that I have fallen into criminal ways, defrauding the rail network out of the pounds due to it, I live near a small station that is manned only on the second Tuesday of the month between the hours of 7.00am and 7.05am. They - those nameless train companies who every so often come along and give us a new bench - do not trust us with outdoor ticket machines. This is what happens when you live in an area which has a M&S Food Hall and a Militant Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. It is therefore impossible for me to buy a ticket unless the Conductor comes round the train. Which today he did not do. Hardly my fault.

I'm just about to leave the main area of the station - in the direction of the pub - when I feel a tap on my arm.

I turn round expecting to see someone I recognise (this is me after all, I tripped over someone I knew in Budapest) and instead I'm confronted with the bulk of a man in a florescent yellow coat. A policeman to be exact.

"Have you got a minute?" Policeman asks.

"Yes" I respond in my best 'I haven't broken the law' voice whilst starting to wonder how many years you get for ticket evasion even though it was not my fault.

Policeman takes me to one side. Oh brilliant. People are now looking. And not just because I have fabulous boots on.

"Since the London bombings we've been given the powers to search people" Policeman starts.

I do a little take. So this is not about the ticket then. This is worse. They think I have a bomb. This is probably why I need to get a smaller handbag.

"We're searching a wide range of people - male, female, all ages and races".

I nod along like this is the most normal thing in the world and I am not about to be strip searched on a platform at York Station.

"And under Section 44 I have the right to search you".


"Are you happy for me to search your bag?"

What can I possibly say to this? In an ideal world I would not be standing here, a possible bomb suspect, when I should be sat in a pub getting slowly drunk on riccardi and coke, so, no I am not entirely happy with how things are playing out. But if I say this you will think I am being deliberately obstructive. And I've watched enough tv detective shows to know what happens when you are deliberately obstructive to the police.

"Go ahead" I smile pretending that this is the most normal thing in the world.

"Thank you" Policeman smiles back. And then - just as I'm opening my bag - he decides to add "We're not just looking for bombs but things people shouldn't have - like drugs".

He thinks I have drugs! I am to be Bridget Jones only without the Madonna impression.

"Right" I smile back whilst mentally going through the items in my bag. I am to be arrested for non-payment of a train ticket, a lemsip sachet and a Vicks Inhaler. And that is before he finds that I have a Mini David Tennant doll in there as well.

Policeman searches my bag whilst I avoid eye-contact with passers by.

Eventually he finishes. "That's all fine" he smiles.

I smile back realising that I am mere moments away from a riccardi and coke.

"There's just a form I need to fill in with you to say you've been searched".

Great. It is to go on record that I am 24 years old and have a David Tennant doll.

The questions start off easy enough. I know my name (just about). Then they get more difficult when it gets to height. I do not know my height. I know I am short and have to do lots of things on my tip toes. That is usually enough.

"What build are you?"

I eyeball Policeman. If there is disaster lurking anywhere then this might be it.

He reads my look well. "We'll say slim then".

"Yes, lets" I respond. I'm not sure my liver could have coped with the results of of anything else.

"And, in your opinion, what colour would you say you are?"

I blink at this. He needs me to define my colour. He needs me to define my colour despite the fact that I am so white that in some lights I look translucent.

"White" I deadpan.

We finish filling in the form and Policeman supplies me with a copy (so I can remember this moment in all its glory) before saying goodbye and wishing me and my Vicks inhaler a good evening.

There's a moment when I stand there, not quite sure of what happened. And then I move. And when I'm asked if I want a double I say yes.

1 comment:

billygean.co.uk said...

Even in my turmoil I am excited by s44 PACE 1984.