Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Once Upon a Time in the West

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, I worked as an insurance underwriter. Well, it wasn’t all that far away; Bristol to be exact, home of ooh arr cider drinkers and posh Sloane girls flicking their blonde fringes.

I was sharing a flat with a guy from Dublin who was, to say the least, a bit of a Walter Mitty. He had an espionage fascination, and imagined that with a spot of hair gel and an Austin Reed suit he was a dead ringer for James Bond. The fact that he spoke with a broad working class Dublin accent didn’t bother him in the slightest. As far as he was concerned he had the look down to a t, and that was all that really mattered.

He was seconded to an office in Plymouth for a month, and put up in a Hilton hotel. By a strange coincidence, the Queen was due to go walkabout in Plymouth at the same time. I really should have paid heed to his interest in ‘Guns and Ammo’ magazine, and warned him that high velocity firearms and royalty did not make a happy combination. If I’d known that he had a replica automatic pistol which he liked to pose in front of the mirror with, I’d probably have had him certified.

He arrived in Plymouth with his trusty imitation sidearm and settled into the hotel. The next day he headed off to work, absent mindedly leaving his popgun lying on the bedspread. The chambermaid, not unnaturally, noticed the gun and reported the matter to the hotel management. Bells began to ring: IRISHMAN, GUN, QUEEN.

That evening, Special Branch burst through his bedroom door, trussed him up like a chicken, and bundled him off for a 48 hour interrogation under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. In addition, they arrived at our flat and proceeded to tear his bedroom apart, reading through personal mail and bank statements, and tearing the lining out of his suits in search of evidence. Funnily enough, they didn’t seem very interested in me, even though I’m originally from Belfast.

They scared the shit out of the poor guy. He was a bit of a wanker, but he was no terrorist. Word got back to his employer, and he was psychologically pressured into resignation. I know the police have to be careful about this sort of thing, but surely they must have sufficient training to realise when someone is a harmless fantasist, not a homicidal maniac.

This is what worries me about the proposals to hold terrorist suspects for 90 days without charge. If we get the wrong people, and destroy lives in the process, we are likely to alienate an entire community. That’s no way to go about winning hearts and minds.


Rowan said...

omg, what a tale! can it really be true? My, you do meet some colourful people don't you there garfey?

I hope none of your things were destroyed?!?!

Though I realize this isnt' to the same scale as your dillema there, my dad once told a customs officer, when asked if we were his children, "no, they're the neighbours' kids, we stole them!" well, drug dogs, ripped apart car, destroyed interior, the stares, the embarrassment later...he learned not to fuck with the law.

S.I.D. said...

Bloody hell garfer,same thing happened to my little brother.Well nearly.He left his imitation toy gun, (not recommended in NI at that time)lying on the window sill and some passerby reported it.Of course when RUC came, we couldn't find it.Mother was well pleased.

MHN for short said...

That was a major boo-boo on their part. They didn't bother to research your mate and send out apologies and help him get his job back? Wow.

Oh, you were right, this did have a wanker in the story. :-)

MHN for short said...

You did mention that he was a "bit of a wanker" right? Hope I didn't get that wrong. It's been a crap day.

Sniffy said...

But Garfer, it's for OUR protection!!! I think if people get as far as getting banged up without trial before getting their faces shot off, it can only be progress.

The people in charge of this country are paranoid beyond belief and those who are expected to enforce the laws resulting from this paranoia aren't the brightest or most tactful people on the planet.

I think the horse is long bolted as far as engaging with some of our migrant communities goes. Whole sections of our society do not see themselves as being part of the bigger picture. On its own, this is very sad. However, add to this laws borne out of paranoia and you're lighting the blue touchpaper with your route back to safety well and truly blocked.

garfer said...

The problem with migrant communities seems to be restricted to working class muslim ghettos. The broader asian community aren't the problem.
The French really seem to have fucked things up.
The asians who have settled in Scotland overwhelmingly regard themselves as British. Maybe that's because they weren't shipped in en masse to work in woolen mills and the like. They came independendently and made lives for themselves.
I don't see how a 90 day detention period would have stopped the London bombs. These people were off the radar. If they can't get the intelligence right, all the draconian measures in the world will be a waste of time.

Sniffy said...

Aye, in 100% agreement here.

Piggy and Tazzy said...

I agree with both you and Tina (I must stop doing that).

This whole paranoia thing is really beginning to make ME paranoid.

What the hell is going on? Why do we let those people control our lives/emotions/thought processes like this? And why the hell are the public taking it all in?

The whole 90 day detention thing scares me. To think that ANY ONE OF US could be detained against our will, on the assumption that we MIGHT or someone THINKS we might do something, sometime in the future, with NO evidence is beyond belief. Yes, I understand they think its for our protection, but as has already been said, those people were 'off the scale'.

Then we have that crap with the introduction of identity cards coming next. Oh yes, we wont be required to carry them with us. Good for the terrorists, eh? Just leave the cards at home when they go out bomb-planting or blowing themselves and us to bits.

I just wish the politicians would fuck-off out of my life. They are causing more problems for me than I desire.

Aginoth said...

What a complete twonk !

Mind you as you say 90 days is far too long, I'm not sure more than 21 days is morally supportable

BigDov said...

Generally, I don't have a problem with the 90 days detention or the ID card (apart from the cost, obviously).

It's a fairly cliched line I know, but I do think that the majority of normal law-abiding citizens shouldn't have anything to worry about

pissoff said...

I usually do the same thing with my Wonder Woman costume and golden lassoo.

Detention for 90 days...hmmm, I don't know. I can see both sides. I may have to agree with Garfer on this one though...

garfer said...

Don't mention the Wonder Woman costume and golden lassoo, Cold Earth (and Tina) will get hot under the collar!

Piggy and Tazzy said...

bigdov - well I'm a normal (I think) law-abiding citizen and I DO think there is something to worry about.

regarding ID cards, what's the point of forcing us all to have one if theres no need to carry it? We all know that the day will come when we are told it'll be an offence not to. The cost is irrelevant (if we HAVE to have it though, it should be FREE). But what happens when the law changes to say we must carry it around with us? What about those that forget it, lose it, have it nicked? Are we all going to have to enjoy a stay at a police station until our ID is confirmed?

I object very strongly to the politicians making me carry around a card with my name on it. I object very strongly to being told I have to pay for it too. I have nothing to hide, I'm law-abiding and, quite frankly, I'm really tired of hearing (as you say) that excuse of 'oh you've nothing to fear if you've nothing to hide'.

I think quite a few (law abiding)people (with nothing to hide)feel the same way, hence the No 2 ID website, which I strongly support. What are they going to do with the thousands of us who object to getting one? Throw us all in jail?

As for the 90 day thing, I still say its WAY too long! If they suspect someone may be involved in terrorism, then surely they MUST have some kind of evidence beforehand? Why the hell do they need to detain someone for 3 months on an assumption? Very scary.

S.I.D. said...

Whoops Tony,Byeeee!

garfer said...

I think the threat is sufficient to justify 28 days. 90 is over the top.
I don't like the idea of id cards. The last time we had them was in WWII. That was fair enough, but I don't see much justification for them these days. The state has enough ways of keeping tabs on us already.

Sniffy said...

I say no2id too. I can prove who I am, I don't need a bloody card to prove it. Let's face it, people who are going to be "threats" will be full eligible to carry a card anyway.

Now, who mentioned dressing up as Wonder Woman? It wasn't April was it? Oh my, oh my. April as Wonder Woman. I might have to go for a lie down.

garfer said...

She would make quite a good Cat Woman as well.

Piggy and Tazzy said...

April as CatWoman and Tina as Deputy Dawg.

I feel a photoshop session coming on.