So, years ago, I’m sitting with my close circle of friends, in the new flat that two of them (a couple) have just moved into. The flat is literally a converted garage, at the back of a shop. I swear it was single breeze-blocks, it was so cold and utterly impossible to make yourself warm. There would be a few of us there every night, post-club, smoking, chatting, having fun, but hardly ever drinking.
On this night, we were drinking. I don’t know why, but it stands out as being unusual.
For whatever reason, I decided that the music that was on offer in the flat that night was not up to standard. This was pre-internet everywhere, so that’s how long ago we’re talking. Yes, yes, I know.
Because I’m a person of strong opinion and conviction I convinced everyone else of this fact and, in a state of extreme vodka, I decided to pop home and get some CDs. Home being about 3 miles away.
One of my friends, Clive, had at that time an old moped. It actually belonged to his girlfriend’s father. Kim’s father had given it to them for yet another inexplicable reason, and it was sitting outside the backdoor. You will note that lots of things in this story are already unexplained. I feel that, at the time even, I was no clearer about things.
So, I get on the moped. You could, no doubt, see that coming.
It was so old that it really was a moped, not a scooter. The pedals had been removed, but there was just a tiny engine (a motor actually, I’m sure. Not sure about the difference) a wobbly seat and some handlebars. I didn’t know what did what, and committed to only using the brake, not touching the clutch and trying not to kill myself. Kim was nearly crying at the idea.
One other thing. In order to make it start, you needed to jam something, a large black screwdriver in this case, down into some part of the engine/motor, to get it to start when you kicked it. I managed this feat of crypto-engineering, first go. I was pleased. Also drunk.
I set off. It was a 10min journey at most, on a route I had walked and been driven a thousand times. I was feeling confident. But couldn’t see anything. The helmet had no visor.
After winding through a couple of roads I noticed headlights very close behind me. Very close. I took a turning, carefully, and the lights followed. I turned again. They followed me again. The roads I was on were not ‘on the way’ anywhere. I was getting worried.
I decided that, whatever was about to happen, I didn’t want to get rammed off this scoped, so I turned again and stopped the bike and got ready. Suddenly all of the houses, on either side of me, simultaneously turned on blue flashing lights. It was really strange. It was almost as it the lights were coming from behind me.
The policeman explained that the back light was out on the bike, and wanted to let me know. Thankyou officer, I say. Have you been drinking? he says. I may have had a shandy, I say. Get in the car, he says.
I wasn’t worried. I knew I was completely drunk. I’d had at least half a bottle of vodka. This plan was not a sober plan. I knew I was done for, so why worry. The policeman unrolled a breathalyzer, attached a tube, did the blow hard thing. I blew. I blew orange.
Lucky, he says to me. I couldn’t believe it.
We’re both joking a little at this point. Ok, he says, have you got anything sharp or dangerous on you? My smile drops. I put my hand into my jacket and pull out a 12inch black screwdriver. The policeman stops smiling. Get out of the car he says.
I’m standing with my hands on the roof, one policeman with his hand on my back, the other searching my pockets, patting me down etc. I had a small knife. It was OK.
Where’s my insurance? Uh, no, I haven’t got that. License? No, again, not a thing. Is this your bike? Once more officer, I’m going to have to say no.
I’m arrested for stealing, no licence, tax or insurance, possessing a dangerous weapon and going with intent. Which means they think I might have been out robbing.
The next bit is hazy, but I get put in a cell and my Dad collects me some hours later. There’s no row at home. My mum is cross but, this isn’t really all that surprising to them. It turns out that the bike didn’t even belong to my Kim’s dad, it was a friend of his, so tracing the owner was a nightmare, and obviously not who I said it was. I was only charged with the driving offences in the end, they believed the screwdriver thing when they took a good look at the bike.
I went to court, pleaded with the magistrate not to ban me, and he didn’t I got fines, which I still have the receipts for, strangely. I didn’t want to get banned, because I planned to get my driving license. I didn’t, for another six years.
There’s no moral or flourish to this particularly, but it did happen and I was actually glad it was the police, because I was worried I’d have to use the screwdriver in a fight, ironically.
Actually, my friends, all stoned, pissed and god knows what were pretty angry with me, for sending the police to knock on their door two hours after I left. They literally all thought I had been killed. I’m not entirely sure Kim’s forgiven me for that.
She has, she loves me.