Saturday, May 18, 2024

To Bribe A Policeman

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Prose

London was seething with excitement, crowds filled the pavements and open spaces, all determined to have an enjoyable time. Policemen, all on long spells of duty, laughed and joked with everyone, answering impossible questions, especially from the visitors from abroad. Accents of all nationalities seemed to flow past, just as if you were taking a lightning-fast world tour. Diplomatic couriers scurried back and forth carrying messages between the Government, Heads of State and World Royalty, for this was to be another great day of Pomp and Pageantry, to celebrate the Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. The procession seemed to go on for-ever. Every passing coach was greeted with a great roar of welcome.

After the ceremony, long lines of spectators waited patiently for hours outside the Abbey expecting to be let in, to see this ancient building all dressed up for the great occasion. I was one of the hundreds of Policemen drafted into Central London, assisting with crowd control, etcetera. Towards evening, my duties took me to a small side-entrance to the Abbey, just to make sure there was no queue-jumping. Soon afterwards the lines of people were told there would be a cut-off point, after which no-one would be allowed to enter. The crowds gradually started to disperse, giving me a chance to relax and, steal a moment or two, to enjoy a cigarette. It was then that I noticed a vaguely familiar figure loitering nearby. He spoke and I immediately recognised his Montgomeryshire accent, but I was unable to be certain of his identity, although I was sure it was someone from the days of my early youth. His conversation started with a ‘You must be tired, Officer. Been a great day though. They tell me the flowers are beautiful. Pity we can’t all see them. Must be worth a fiver of anyone’s money to view them.’ What’s this? Is the old devil trying a bribe? It was then that I finally recognised him. This old so-and-so was a local farmer who had caught me as a schoolboy, peering through his orchard hedge at the fruit laden trees, with the ground underneath covered in windfalls. His deep voice had scared me.

‘You rascal, planning to rob me are you? Steal from a poor hardworking farmer, I’ve a good mind to lay my stick across your back. The Good Lord will meet out his punishment, never fear! Turn out your pockets. Let’s see what you’ve stolen.’ My pockets revealed a piece of string, a battered blunt pocket?knife and two one-penny coins. At the sight of the coins, his voice changed. ‘Ah, you have money, so you weren’t going to steal my apples then, going to buy them, was it?’ he picked up three fallen apples, took my two pennies, gave me the apples and told me to bugger off. Now this old skinflint, not recognising the frightened schoolboy, I charge him, or perhaps give him a shock.’Worth a fiver, eh?’ ‘Surely.’ ‘Better let you in then.’

This conversation led to me knocking on the door, which was opened by a colleague on duty inside.

‘This gentleman wishes to put a fiver into the offertory-box, so please allow him to do so.’

The wily old so-and-so smirked as he entered the Abbey. Then, as he passed me, I firmly grabbed him on his shoulder stating. ‘Mr. Williams, if you ever try to bribe a Policeman again, I’ll have you in the Bloody Tower for it. At this he almost had a heart attack! He stammered. ‘You know me?’

My reply did little for his confidence. ‘Mr. Williams, it is my duty to know every doubtful character that comes out of Montgomeryshire.’

Shutting the door behind him I congratulated myself for having come to a reasonable compromise. Then I remembered how, all for two-shillings-and-sixpence. Not a bad return on my money. Perhaps I, too, should put something into the offertory-box?

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