Tag Archives: Crime

My Eleventh Summer

27 May

This Monday was Memorial Day in America, which has traditionally marked the beginning of summer. When I was young, Memorial Day always meant the opening of our city swimming pool, an event which had even the most uncoordinated and physically unappealing kids in our neighbourhood giddy with excitement. Unfortunately, my siblings and I were not allowed to go to the pool, because my mother was afraid we’d get warts and be unable to wear sandals.

Instead, our Memorial Day ritual involved helping my mother move her winter wardrobe into the attic.

That was until my eleventh year, which is when I solved my first crime. It wasn’t a murder or anything like that. But still, it sets that year apart.

c8b7c1860273f5dda0e6a301576d75aaThe night before this Memorial Day, my parents had attended a party at the Flanagans’. Mrs Flanagan wore clogs. Apparently my mother found this unacceptable. There were words and then shouting, and then my parents returned home, where there was more words and shouting and then a cigarette was put out in a gin and tonic. That’s when I decided to get up from the top of the stairs and go to bed. When I woke up in the morning, my father was sleeping on the sofa. I pushed on his shoulder until he woke up. He looked at me and said, “I want crepes.”

Because I was (and still am) his favourite, he and I left before anyone else was awake. We went to our special restaurant where he never took my mother, and he ordered us each some crepes and black coffee. While we were there, a truck pulled up outside and a man who was wearing an undershirt as a shirt came in. He smiled at my father and my father smiled back. Because that’s the kind of man he is.

The rest of the breakfast passed normally. We slowly made our way home, both of us dreading the inevitable appearance of my mother’s clipboard and complicated storage system. Three police cars passed us as we walked.

“I bet they’re arresting that truck man,” I said to my father.

“You’re probably right,” my father said. He laughed a little and then added, “You don’t need to mention him to your mother.”

On the evening news, there was a bulletin saying that a shoe store had been robbed. The guy got away with the safe and five pairs of girls’ saddle shoes. My mother said the man was probably a pervert.

My father winked at me.

In Praise of City Centres

10 Jan

I had the pleasure of escorting an American friend on a sightseeing trip today. He was traveling to Newcastle for a conference on the literary implications of nose-blowing, so I took the train up to meet him. Instead of hitting the usual tourist spots, we simply wandered around the City Centre before he nipped off to deliver his paper, Congestion in Nabokov’s Novels. (I unfortunately was unable to stay to hear his  fascinating research, but I’m sure it went down a storm).

One of the things he commented on was the exciting array of pedestrians in the City Centre. He took great pleasure in hearing apologies from the number of elderly ladies who ran over his feet with their shopping trolleys, and he was particularly impressed with the teenagers pushing their babies’ prams, dodging the dedicated charity workers desperately harassing the early morning shoppers in the name of a good cause. While he was slightly less thrilled by the young lad taking the piss in front of McDonalds (I mean this, unfortunately, literally), he had to laugh at the good-natured way said lad dealt with the restaurant’s manager who attempted to shoo him from the premises. He even maintained his smile as he gave his witness statement to the police.

City CentreI do love showing my American friends around English city centres. They are such hot beds of activity, so much of it so very English. I myself still adore wandering through the markets; their mystery I initially approached as a novelty, but even after this long, I do my best to support as many stalls as I can. This may explain why I have a cupboard full of striped knee socks and bags of outdated, non-brand-name crisps which will never see the light of day. But I feel I’ve done my part to support my community by purchasing them, and that’s all a citizen can do.

The other thing I love about city centres is the great pride people take in them. The pedestrian areas are clean; litter seems to immediately be snatched up by the thoughtful and conscientious beggars who then feed it to their dogs. What community spirit! While we have to face the fact that city centres often do have problems, I am so chuffed when I see locals taking an active stand about the unfortunate but sadly inevitable crimes that often take place in urban areas. I take my feathered hat off to the commitment these men and women make to maintaining their municipal duties.

City centres often get negative press but I, for one, find them absolutely delightful. I would happily spend a day wandering any English city centre, as long as I can get out of there before dark. I’d kill myself before I went into a city centre at night. I have civic pride, but I’m not a fucking idiot.

Crime Prevention Tips: Don’t Let The Season of Joy Make You Stupid

24 Nov

As we are approaching the season of consumerism, scratch that, giving, I’ve decided to offer some of my crime prevention suggestions to you, my loyal readers, free of charge. Please do not assume that these suggestions aren’t as valuable as the ones I’ve given in lectures in years past (where the organisers have generally asked for a small monetary donation): it’s just that here you don’t get biscuits. Go grab yourself some if you feel they’re needed for you to be able to pay attention.

I only mention that I’m offering this advice gratis to highlight that, sadly, during the run-up to Christmas, there is a smorgasbord of scammers and dodgy dealers just waiting to relieve you of your hard-earned cash. This is my first tip: be weary of everyone.  Now you know me, you trust me, because I’m very likeable, honest and always leave my clientele satisfied, if you know what I mean. So were I to request a small fee, it would be sensible to pay it. However, how many times do you hand over your coins or credit cards to people whom you do not know, admire or find sexually alluring? Just bought your wife a necklace–are you sure the jeweller isn’t in the blood diamond trade? Found a great deal online—how reputable is the company? Are you supporting animal abuse with your holiday meal purchases? The donation you made outside the Post Office—was the fact that the man owned a red bucket all you needed to hand over a tenner? I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t buy things from retailers or give money to charities. I’m just saying if you’re going to be mindless about how you throw your money about, don’t come whining to me about being ripped off. And if you are financially supporting corrupt companies and practices, then in many ways you’re just as bad as the criminals themselves. What are you going to do next, kill a fluffy kitten just to watch it die? You disgust me.

Another crime that seems to peak this time of year is pickpocketing. People get so wrapped up in how many errands they have to run or how many purchases they have to make that they let their guards down. They focus on their lists or rushing to beat the queues, and they leave their purses or pockets easily accessible to baddies. My tip to avoid those with sticky fingers is to keep your wallet hidden upon (but not within) your person. Women are advised to keep their cash in their brassieres; men should tuck it discreetly into the pockets of their Y-fronts. Yes, it may be uncomfortable and possibly awkward at the till, but it’s safer, and safety don’t come easy, baby. I do not, though, recommend this technique when shopping in toy stores, for obvious reasons.

Break-ins are also popular during this season. It’s best to assume that burglars are constantly staking out your home. They’re watching you carry in bundles of purchases, they take note of the empty boxes you put out with the recycling, they know when you’re packing the car to go away for a few days. The only way to deal with this threat is to beat them at their own game. Be sensible when displaying new and expensive items you’re bringing into the house; use security lighting outside your home; cancel milk and post delivery, set timers or hire a housesitter if you’re going away; devise a schedule which means a family member is sitting guard at all entry points to your house 24-7 from today until mid-January. Don’t be a passive victim. Getting robbed is terrible, but it stings even more if you could have proactively avoided it.

Lastly, the holiday season includes many parties, and these parties often involve the imbibing of excess amounts of alcohol-based concoctions. As statistics show, when people drink too much, they are more likely to become aggressive which can lead to cruelty, violence and property damage. My tip for avoiding any trips to hospital and/or the local police station is to water down Granny’s sherry from the get go and confiscate both her cane and knitting needles upon arrival.

Be safe and wise when celebrating, my dear ones, and have lovely holiday season!