Real life

The police give Melissa Kite short shrift

28 September 2013

9:00 AM

28 September 2013

9:00 AM

Walking the spaniel on Tooting Common, I was apprehended by a man on a bike. He was ashen-faced. His young daughter, pedalling behind him, had tears streaming down her face. ‘We’ve been attacked!’ he said. ‘My daughter…they set a dog on her…she’s been bitten.’

I looked ahead up the track…et voilà. Once a year, the caravans appear on Tooting Common. There were about seven this time. The usual kids and dogs were milling about. The child didn’t look injured and had probably just been nipped round the ankles. The dog the father was complaining about was a small yappy thing. All the same. They were shaken up. ‘Oh, dear,’ I told him. ‘They come every year. But they usually leave after a few days. They’ll be gone soon.’

‘But I’ve just moved to this area,’ said the man, who was wearing the latest regulation cycling helmet and hi-viz vest and was clearly the sort who did everything a father could be expected to do to ensure the safety and security of his family. ‘I don’t want to live here if this is the sort of chaos that goes on. It’s anarchy,’ he declared, as he pedalled off. ‘Anarchy!’

Thinking this a bit OTT, I wandered further on and as we got nearer the caravans a scrappy Jack Russell attempted to involve the spaniel in carnal relations. I had to beat it off with the dog lead I was carrying. Suddenly a crowd of kids approached, one riding a tiny pony.

‘Give us yer dog, Miss,’ said the pony boy.

‘Where d’ya get that whistle. I wanna whistle like that,’ said another.

‘Don’t you think that pony is a bit small for you?’ I asked, suddenly taken by the idea that I wanted to talk to them.

The children laughed, as if what I had said was quite witty. ‘Go on! Let us have a blow on yer whistle.’

‘This whistle was so hard to get hold of, you have no idea. I went everywhere.’ And I found myself telling the children my troubles and having quite a jolly time.

Then one of them pointed at Cydney and said, with a sharp tone: ‘Your dog just did something. Clean your mess up.’ I looked back at the fly-tipped heaps of trash by the caravans, the branches broken off oak trees for campfires, the nappies strewn on the ground. ‘You’re telling me to clean my mess up?’

And all of a sudden the atmosphere wasn’t very friendly at all. The children laughed. The boy slapped the pony round the neck and made it run, his feet dragging on the ground.

They followed me all the way to the playground, or ‘natural play space’, and burst into it with the pony, sending all the middle-class families running for the hills. Then they got bored and spilled back out again. At which point, an old friend turned the corner and shouted hello to me. As he approached and saw the children, he stopped. ‘Bloody hell, where have all these p…’

In slow motion, I saw him beginning to pronounce the word. ‘NO!’ I said, trying to stop him. ‘Noooooooooooo!’

‘…ikeys come from?’

And the kids magically stopped screaming and went quiet at once. ‘What did you say, mister?’ said pony boy.

‘Nothing,’ I shouted. ‘He didn’t say anything.’

‘Yes, he did. He said pikey.’

We were pinned against a hedge now.

‘Calling us pikeys is like calling a black person a nigger,’ said pony boy. ‘We’re gonna call the police.’

I decided attack was the best form of defence. ‘Well, how about that poor mixed-race child on the bike that you set your dog on. Hmm? Maybe the police would like to hear about that.’ And I picked up my mobile phone and dialled 101. Naturally, it took minutes for them to answer.

‘You can’t be calling the police if it’s taking that long,’ said pony boy, who was obviously used to a speedier service from the Met.

Finally, they did answer and asked me what the problem was. The problem was my vocabulary now completely deserted me. I couldn’t remember the only permitted word in the English language to describe the people in caravans.

So I said: ‘There are people, er, people on Tooting Common.’

‘What people?’

‘People. In caravans. You know.’

‘No, madam. You’re going to have to describe what people you mean.’

‘Er, people in caravans with lots of children. And dogs that haven’t had the snip. And the children have muddy faces and are riding little ponies. They happen to be Irish, but I’m sure that’s a coincidence, they could just as easily not have been Irish, I’m not making any kind of racial point…’

The police gave me short shrift. But at least I didn’t get myself arrested.

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Show comments
  • zakisbak

    The cops are useless.
    Anti-social behaviour is practically zero on their scale.
    They’ll probably have nice chats with them now.

  • Jambo25

    My son trained as a Town Planner and once upon a time had to regularly deal with travelers during a training year he spent with a local council. He also had dealings with travelers some years later as a project manager. He reckoned they were the most vile, anti-social group of so and sos he ever came across and his preferred methods of dealing with them would have involved flame throwers and tactical nuclear weapons. Other people I know who have worked for local authorities and =come into contact with these darlings concur.

    The British police are now officially actually useless.

    • Simon Fay

      “The British police are now officially actually useless.”

      That’s rather unfair – if they were simply useless they’d get out of the way when regular folk have to defend themselves and their’s from things like the above, rather than colluding with the cunning, savvy perpetrators. They are worse than useless.

      • Jambo25

        I wouldn’t care to speculate on the extent of their uselessness but I think we can agree that useless they are.

  • Nick

    The carbon based bipeds in the caravans are vermin.But as low down the evolutionary scale they happen to be,they are above the law.

  • Graeme Harrison

    Except, of course, it’s all untrue as the codes issued under PACE 1984 make clear.

  • Sam Spade

    I’m from the UK originally and had to deal with these unspeakable people in the bigger department stores when I was a security guard. Mind you, before Tony Blair’s politically correct Britain came into being, the coppers were much quicker to respond, I could physically throw “gypos” out by force if need be, and nobody ever complained to me about violating their “human rights.”

    In 1994 I emigrated to Canada where I continued my career in a much more professional security service. We much more highly trained, wore body armour, and carried handcuffs and US police-style night sticks. I remember one occasion when we had to clear some land of Romas (yes, they managed to get over here), and we used whatever amount of force was necessary to get the job done. When the gypos tried to set their dogs on us, we simply let them have it with dog spray (pepper spray). Some of the two-legged animals got too close and got a face full of the stuff too. The police were there in case guns appeared, but stood aside and let us do our job. If one of our gypo friends got a bit out of hand, the cops would handcuff him and march him off. In today’s Britain, we’d all be nicked for excessive use of force, carrying prohibited weapons, and calling our travelling friends offensive names.

    The fun over here is, you can say things like “bollocks, sod off, gypo, pikey, ponce,” and other assorted delights that have persisted in the English language, which the Canadians are none the wiser for. On one occasion, one my colleagues here (another Brit) referred to a Roma as a “bollock brained little gypo.” The police who arrived to take him away to the local nick burst out laughing. Ah, the joy of irreverent humour that has all but been outlawed by the tyranny of political correctness in dear old Blighty.

    Still, as a tribute to the UK police, I have since adopted their uniforms for my own firm. You wouldn’t believe how many coppers in the UK are upset with me, even though we’re across the pond. One WPC emailed and told me just how much she objected to our UK police look. So I emailed back to her;

    “come over here and arrest me.”

    Mind you, she probably will if she could afford the plane ticket, which is a darned sight more than they will do to those pesky Pikeys.

    David Baines