Two of my friends are criminals: they are both guilty of the crime of public urination.
Picture the scene: a balmy summer night through which two young gents stagger home after sampling of the myriad sensual delights that Fleet high street had to offer back in the early ’90s (i.e. The Oatsheaf). They pause briefly to relieve themselves, hosing down the walls of the local shopping centre.
The pause to fumble miniscule peckers back into briefs and jeans is slightly longer, which allows ample time for newly installed surveillance cameras to direct a police car to their position.
‘Now then, lads,’ the police sergeant said from the car in a cheery, we’ve-all-been-there type of voice, ‘had a bit to drink have we?’
Peter is an easy-going, affable type of drunk; but Richard – who back then considered himself a real no-nonsense, anti-authoritarian rabble-rouser- isn’t. After uttering the immortal words, ‘Let me do the talking,’ Richard snapped into action.
First he asked the police who the hell they thought they were to come round asking questions of him.
‘Do the car and the uniforms not give it away?’ the sergeant replied, with a lot less bonhomie.
‘But how do I know that you’re genuine police officers? Come on,’ Richard said, snapping his fingers. ‘Let me see some ID.’
Peter, stricken momentarily dumb by surprise, suddenly found his voice.
‘He doesn’t speak for me!’ Peter bleated. ‘I’m not with him!’
But his words were not heard, as Richard was still not done exercising his rights: with the “imposter” police both out of the car, he was now demanding a pen and paper so he could write down their names and badge numbers.
He was still demanding the same objects when, approximately 90 seconds later, the police had exercised their own rights, and both Peter and Richard were handcuffed in the back of a meat wagon.
Next morning, our protagonists emerged from the local police station, bleary eyed and hungover, clutching freshly inked court summons for the crime of public urination.
Further indignities awaited them, though.
When their case was heard at Aldershot Magistrates Court, they had to sit with all the other accused and stand when their names and charges were called out. Richard and Peter quickly discovered they were out of their depths – one youth next to them was accused of ABH, a second of robbing a corner shop at knifepoint, while an alcoholic hag from Camberley had flung boiling water into her partner’s face.
When Richard and Peter – the only ones among the accused in suits – stood and had their charges read, their fellow felons turned on them: some laughed in their faces, others sneered, while the hag called them a “pair of fucking nonces.’
It is lucky the crime of public urination does not carry a custodial sentence, for I fear Richard and Peter would have found themselves either “shanked” on the prison exercise yard or forced to play catamite to some burly lifer who had been without a woman for decades . . .