Low life

Glazed tiles, a barred window: it must be another morning in a police cell

30 August 2014

9:00 AM

30 August 2014

9:00 AM

In my late twenties, it was not unusual for me to wake up in a police cell wearing a paper suit. Waking to glazed tiles and a high barred window, and not knowing how one got there, is a bad way to start the day. On this particular occasion, I opened my eyes and pieced together that the party in the nurses’ home had gone on all night, that I had continued to drink, and that I had then gone to a football match. The last thing I remembered clearly was standing on the terrace drinking cider and vodka out of a vodka bottle. (My pals told me later that two St John Ambulance guys had carried me out of the ground on a stretcher.) At that time I was a trainee psychiatric nurse. Booze at the social club in the hospital grounds was cheap, and the nurses were a hard-drinking crowd. There were drinking parties in the nurses’ home and we used to throw barbiturates and anti-depressants in the fruit punch.

The cell was light, airy and clean. It was an altogether pleasanter place to wake up in than my closet in the nurses’ home. The other cell occupant was a chirpy young East End lad. ‘Alright?’ he said, when he saw that my eyes were open. He had been arrested for non-payment of fine, but didn’t seem in the least put out. These things happened, was his attitude. And today was his wedding day. He was to be married at noon. ‘Gary,’ he said, offering his hand.

I told him how sorry I was. He was confident of making it to the register office in time, however. Shortly we would be taken to court, he said, and he doubted very much whether a magistrate would remand him in custody for non-payment of fine on his wedding day. Why didn’t I come to his wedding? I looked like I needed a drink. He was right and I accepted his kind invitation.


An avuncular police sergeant brought us plastic cups of tea and our bagged clothes and told us to get ready. A little later he returned with the young bride-to-be. She passed a suit, white shirt and tie in through the sliding window in the cell door. Her pretty face was puckered with concern. She didn’t seem in the least surprised to have found him in police custody. Nor was she cross. She seemed only anxious about the time. My cellmate introduced us and asked her if she would mind if I came to the wedding. Her name was Linda. As amiable a person as her fiancé, Linda said, ‘You’re welcome, Jel.’

Then we were taken outside and loaded into a police lorry, the interior of which was divided into tiny individual cells. Mine had a porthole. We called at several police stations en route to pick up more prisoners. Finally, the lorry halted outside Stratford Magistrates’ Court and I was taken out and led down to a holding cell beneath the court. I felt so nauseous all I wanted to do was sit or lie down. But, almost immediately, my name was called and a custody officer took me up some stairs, which led directly into the dock.

The public gallery of the court was almost full with spectators. The weather was cold; the court well heated. Presumably a good number of them had come to keep warm and be entertained at the same time. There was an atmosphere of gaiety, as at a variety show, and I heard titters at my dishevelled appearance and crapulent condition. When I was sonorously accused of being ‘found drunk at West Ham’, the titters turned to outright laughter. My croaked plea of guilty drew more hilarity from the public gallery. I was a knockabout turn, apparently.

The chairman of the magistrates needed no advice in my case. I could choose between a £20 fine or a day in custody, he said. Brightening, I said I’d have the day in custody. More laughter. The custody sergeant took me down, but instead of shoving me back in the cell, he kindly showed me the street exit. I went out and re-entered the building by the freemen’s entrance and took a seat in the public gallery. I was just in time to hear my new friend Gary, resplendent and uncomfortable in collar and tie, being remanded in custody. He turned and shrugged his astonishment at his bride-to-be, also seated in the public gallery. ‘I’m sorry about that,’ I said to his bride as she made her way out. ‘I’ll bloody kill him when he gets out,’ she said. But she said it lovingly. That these things happen seemed to be her philosophy also, and I felt a pang of envy at his having found such a wonderful helpmeet.

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Show comments
  • Suzy61

    What is a helpmeet?

    • Kenneth O’Keeffe

      you can kind of guess, can’t you – a derivative of ‘help mate’ ie. a companion who helps you out.

  • Kitty MLB

    Found drunk at West Ham, is that where the mediocre football club
    is Jeremy, darling? Is that why you were found as drunk as a newt,
    and sick as a dog in the morning.

  • Kenneth O’Keeffe

    A rather charming story. We’ve all been there!

    • Shenandoah

      No we haven’t, you dolt. Put your brain back to sleep, which is clearly its most comfortable setting.

      • Kenneth O’Keeffe

        Don’t be so *****ing po-faced

        • Kitty MLB

          Oh eloquence drips off your tongue like honey,
          how can the ladies resist.like bees around a honey pot they gather. I must admit I have never
          ‘been there’as you said above. But yes as you said above the story is charming.
          But alas, more charming then you sir.

          • Kenneth O’Keeffe

            Oh.

  • Shenandoah

    At least you got a cup of tea. I was told by someone that was clanged in for the night (drunken driving, and serves him right) that no tea in the morning was forthcoming. Nor a licence, for the next six months. But drunken drivers deserve what they get, the idiots.

  • Your government is your #1
    enemy. Brutal police and kangaroo courts
    are tools to enslave you to your government.
    But badges and benches do not
    grant extra rights. It’s your duty as a citizen to become a
    popopaparazzo, recording police misconduct. Use your smartphone to unmask cops,
    kangaroos, marilizards, godzillas, and other bastards of kleptocracy. Keynote Speaker Basil Venitis, venitis@gmail.com, http://venitism.blogspot.com

    J’ACCUSE!

    I accuse the government of Greece
    for:

    Persecuting me for four years

    Stealing my life

    Stealing my computer and files

    Spreading lies about me on all Greek
    media

    Using the kangaroo justice as a
    political tool

    Postponing my trial eight times

    Locking me in jail without toilet for
    a night

    Making me urinate in a bottle

    Humiliating me with handcuffs,
    fingerprints, and mug shots

    DOUBLE STANDARDS

    EU practices double standards on civil rights. It’s freakish for EU to interfere in the
    civil rights of foreigners, but condone the abuse of my civil rights, a citizen
    of EU! EU should get its own house in
    order before lecturing others. EU should rein in Greece, the most corrupt country of Europe with prisoners of conscience,
    testilying police, malevolent prosecutors, perjurers, and stupidest jurists.

    AN UNCONSCIONABLE SILENCE

    The political philosopher Edmund Burke
    once remarked that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good
    folks to do nothing. A glaring example is my persecution by the government of
    Greece, which grossly violates my civil rights.

    THEN
    THEY CAME FOR ME!

    Martin Niemöller said: First
    they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a
    Socialist. Then they came for the Trade
    Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not
    speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one
    left to speak for me!

    GOVERNMENT STOLE MY LIFE

    It’s been now four
    years since the Pasok government of Greece stole my life, my computer, and my
    files. Nobody cares, nobody gives a
    damn! I have done absolutely nothing,
    and I am being persecuted by the Greek government without any real reason. My ordeal is against all rules of civil
    society and treaties that Greece has signed.
    Greece,
    a country without a functioning justice system, has gone bananas. Graecokleptocrats use the kangaroo justice as a political tool
    to gag political opponents. Graecokleptocrats think the laws exist to give them
    whatever they want!

    STOLEN
    LIVES

    GEORGE ORWELL’S
    MINILUV AND MINITRUE

    MINISTRY OF PUBLIC
    DISORDER AND CITIZEN HARASSMENT

    MINILUV

    POLICE
    STEALING COMPUTERS!

    On October 18, 2010, a gang of six brutal cops of the violent Greek
    Cyber-Crime Unit (CCU), a real godzilla, supervised
    by a dishonest prosecutor, a disgusting liar, raided my home in Athens and stole my computer,
    software, files, documents, and personal data.

    HUMILIATED

    The policemen locked me in jail for a night, they
    humiliated me with handcuffs, fingerprints, mug shots, and lies, leaked false
    information to the media parrots, and the Greek government initiated sham
    ex-officio court proceedings for a stack of freakish trumped-up charges!

    URINATING IN A BOTTLE!

    There was neither pillow nor toilet
    facility in my jail cell. I had to urinate in a bottle! I, a 69-years-old man with high blood
    pressure, was not allowed to keep my hypertension pills with me. There was
    neither toilet paper nor soap in the whole CCU jail.

    MINISTRY OF
    INJUSTICE, OPACITY, AND HUMAN DEPRIVATIONS

    MINITRUE

    Greece, a
    country of infinite political corruption, perjury, injustice, and brutal
    police, must be revamped. Ex-officio
    law suit, αυτεπαγγελτος, the
    most dreadful word in justice, means the state sues somebody without
    involvement of the accuser. This
    terrible scheme has been used by the freakish Greek government to persecute me.

    EX-OFFICIO
    TERROR

    Mariliza
    Xenogiannakopoulou, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, sued me, and she
    wouldn’t show up in court, because the state took over her position!

    DISGUSTING KANGAROO JUSTICE

    PSORIASIS OF DEMOCRACY

    At the ex-officio law
    suit, the accuser just hits and runs!
    This hit-and-run justice is the most disgusting kangaroo justice on
    Earth. The accused must be in a position
    to face his accuser eyeball to eyeball. The right to confront and cross-examine
    one’s accuser is a sign of civility. The malicious accuser slings false
    accusations against you, the state takes over, the accuser disappears from the
    court, and the trial is postponed infinite times! This is penalty of the presumed innocent. This is penalty without trial. This is kangaroo justice of Third World
    countries! This is barbarity and
    brutality, pure and simple. Shame, shame, shame on Greece.

    SHAME ON GREECE

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