Did I ever tell you about it?
Fuckin bullshit, right – I mean,
It’s like there’s no crime in London of a Saturday night, like cops have just got loads of time on their hands or something…
Anyway, check it out, yeah: I’m in the first year, (a “fresher”, if you will – I won’t), looking for fun, and Stevie Mac and his mate Toughie G (s opposed to Easy G, you understand) know someone who’s starting a club night in Vauxhall, and we can get in free, maybe get some cheap/free drinks and hang out: cool.
Saturday night in London, innit; this is why I’m here. Could’ve went to a much better Uni, but I’ve always aimed low in this regard.
So, here we are, arsing around in the tube station, looking like a (relatively harmless) gang.
We get to the place, and it’s cool, there’s no one else there, really – as I say, it’s the first time they’ve put this thing on. We settle in and G’s mates are real nice, sort us out with some drinks, and we hang out.
The thing is in the basement of a smart pub.
The pub upstairs closes, and we’re free to hang out and smoke downstairs.
We take full advantage.
About half one, things take a turn.
We hear a crashing of glass from upstairs and the couple runnin the thing go up to check it out.
They come back and tell us, Sorry guys, there’s been a break-in upstairs, need to call the cops. So, we’d better leave.
No worries, we tell them, we’ll just quickly finish making this one, and we’ll get out the way. We thank them for their hospitality and spill out into the street before the filth turn up.
We’re outside waiting for a cab back to our East End Shithole, and Stevie and I both spark up.
One of the crew warns us that there’s a couple of meatwagons cruisin around, but we’re a wee bit pissed by now, a wee bit blasé.
After the same van rolls past, slowly, for the second time, we really should take note.
Naturally, we don’t.
The third time, they pull up, with a car in tow.
Stevie clocks them, and nods in their direction to let me know.
I drop mine, and stand on it, covering it up, and, while turning, blow smoke almost into the face of a middle-aged copper, who’s approaching, looking tired, like he really don’t want to be here, you know what I mean?
But, it’s like, we’ve give him no option, we’re just blatantly tokin in the street while he’s rolled round the block waiting for us to play the game and put it out.
I realise at this point that I am quite good at reading faces, but this realisation doesn’t help at all.
So, they put me in the back of a van, and Stevie in the back of a car, and we off we go to Lambeth nick, with the others left on the street, presumably wonderin what the fuck to do, right?
I am a bit nervous, annoyed at the situation, but calm and resigned. To be fair, the weary professionalism of the middle-aged copper has actually put me at ease a bit…so I suppose reading his attitude has helped, after all.
Steve, (as I later learn from The Man Himself), is meanwhile giving the cops in the car all sorts of grief, along the lines of:
“I’ve dealt with the RUC all my life, I’m sick of this shit…I didn’t come to London to take shit off of youse bastards…”
That kind of thing.
At the station, everyone is brisk, and relatively polite, like any public institution with lots of bureaucracy – it feels a bit like a hospital. I’m not tipsy any more, it’s a sobering experience, getting nicked.
As the middle-aged cop dude takes my particulars, I wonder how this would have gone down if I was black, and/or if we’d been picked up in Peckham, or Hackney.
In the interview room, the formalities are extended, yeah?
So, he presses play on the tape deck, and it goes like this:
“Are you aware what this is?”
“Are you aware it’s illegal to have this in your possession?”
“Where did you get it?”
I think carefully about the real answer to this question, before I say:
“Ummm….I’m not prepared to tell you that.”
He switches off the tape and I ask politely how long all this will take, whether we’ll be charged. He says it’s up to the duty sergeant, he can’t second-guess his boss.
But his demeanour strongly implies that I’ll be back on the streets shortly, that this is all a minor inconvenience for him, that if only we’d strolled five minutes round the corner to smoke, he wouldn’t have all this paperwork to do.
I briefly consider that most communication is non-verbal, and look forward to getting home.
So, I get the impression that this will all be fine, and I relax a bit. This must be the most relaxed (or, at least, tired and bored) copper I’ve ever seen….I am now properly glad at being able to read faces.
After another wait in a cell, they eventually bring me back to the reception bit, and I see Stevie there, hunched over, trembling just slightly. It looks like he’s crying, then when he notices me and looks up, I see he’s actually giggling uncontrollably. Apparently, it wasn’t as sobering an experience for him.
I laugh for the first time since before we got picked up and start to see the lighter side.
It’s been annoying, but whatever, probably be alright.
The duty sergeant lets us go with a caution (no previous innit), and we come out, bleary-eyed, like leaving a cinema and trudge to the tube station to head home.
As I open the door to the flat, I clock the time – 6 a.m.
Now, the only thing that really pisses me off about the whole affair:
There’s a dawning realisation, and with sudden anger, and I shout out loud:
They’ve taken my fuckin weed!