Friday, July 12, 2002


So last Wednesday I was half-an-hour from going home, right? And one of the people from the Tenants' Association buttonholes me and points out that:

a) There's been a police helicopter circling overhead for the last few minutes and

b) There's a coat shoved under her mate's car which wasn't there ten minutes previously.

Apparently since I am the caretaker, this is my problem. Gingerly approach coat, clock the fact that there's a package wrapped in a black plastic bag underneath it, panic slightly. Ask if anyone knows the number of the local nick. Nobody does. Local kids now home from school and starting to take an unhealthy interest in Suspect Package. Panic goes up a notch. Dial 999, explain situation to Plod. Plod tells me it's probably just some stolen property and generally makes me feel about 2 inches tall & mad, but says he'll send someone round.

Panic panic panic. Police turn up, stroll over to car, poke jacket, pull jacket, find cigarettes in binbag, laugh. Unwrap binbag further to find 1 (one) black balaclava and 1 (one) shotgun barrel made of two bits of pipe taped together, robbers, for the use of.

Police stop laughing, cordon off area, start yelling at kids to get away from the car, etc etc. Apparently someone had knocked off the turf accountant round the corner, hence helicopters and bruhaha.

CID turn up. Divers alarums and excursions. Hang around nervously for a bit then go home, reassured by police assertions that the gun is a dummy.

Go into work on Thursday moring to be informed that alleged fake gun was actually a real gun. A real, homemade gun. A real, dangerous, unreliable, blow-your-face-off, explode-if-you-look-at-it-funny



I was never in any danger. I think. But if I'd just phoned the local police station instead of 999 and then hung around and waited while they decided whether or not to bother turning up, what's the betting that one of the kids would have gone over and kicked said homemade gun, or pointed it at someone-- with hilarious consequences? Homemade guns are not noted for their stability.

The next time I see something like that under a car, I am going to dial 999, snidey plod or no snidey plod.

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