Friday 13th April 2012
I DID little to endear myself to those burly (probably bored) policemen, patrolling in an unmarked car, who decided to stop and interrogate a man walking (probably not in the straightest of lines) along a deserted coast road one chilly night in 1974.
“I’ve been in Blackpool, drinking with a friend. His wife’s just given birth after a difficult labour. That’s why I’m walking home late. Satisfied?”
No. You weren’t expected to have some form of ID on you in those days, but it was:
“Name, sir? Address? Occupation? … Teacher, eh? Wouldn’t want anybody with long hair teaching my kids.”
As for remonstrating about their intimidation? Forget it. Not their job to consider what might be going through a suspect’s mind. And no, they would not drive me home to let me prove who I was.
We lived in the first house in Beach Road. On turning the corner, I saw a parked car, lights on, facing me, on the other side of the road, twenty yards away. I gave them a V sign and walked quickly up to my front door.
…here we go again: now in my mid-thirties, hitching down the Fosse Way, late at night, on the open road, resigned to a long walk after the only car for ages has rushed by, into the black beyond.
Or has it?
Is it the same car? the one just down the road?
Have they turned round and come back? Why? Surely not a second unmarked patrol car? Lightning doesn’t. Oh well, trudge on, trudge on.
The car remains where it is, across the road. This time I manage a whole smile and probably a nod or two. The driver winds down his window.
“We saw you earlier. My wife said you had your thumb out. Did you?”
“Bit late, isn’t it?”
“Very. Sorry. I’ve not had much luck. Should have left during the tea interval.”
“Where’ve you been?”
“Cricket match, in Leicester.”
“Where you going?”
“Jump in then.”
They were heading for Dorset, their daughter having just given birth. I recounted the late-night Lancashire tale. They laughed. And took a considerable detour to drop me at the end of my road.