Friday, 21 December 2018
I know that singing "ding dong merrily" in the carol refers to the heavenly peal of bells proclaiming the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
However it made me think of tonight; Friday the 21st December, the last Friday before Christmas, the traditional office party and night out on the town Friday, the Friday of over indulgence, the Friday where things may be said to the boss that will later be wished unsaid. In short, the Friday where people may well have a ding dong because they got too merry.
We call it "Black Eye Friday".
And Black Eye Friday is one of the "days of increased demand" we plan for in the Devon and Cornwall Police operation, codename "Op Tinsel".
That's a jolly sounding name for a bunch of planning we do; planning for all the other stuff that tends to happen over Christmas and New Year celebrations. I am sure with a little thought you could list most of the things we plan for; if you felt so inclined.
And to just give you a flavour of the "Op Tinsel" shenanigans my colleagues will be dealing with over the festive holidays, here is my own story of a little incident the last time I worked Black Eye Friday in amongst the evening and night time economy (or ENTE as we un-euphemistically call it).
It had just gone midnight and I was single crewed as the ENTE Inspector wandering around a busy little waterfront district full of pubs, clubs and restaurants. To my right was a harbour wall and a bunch of trawlers and leisure craft. To my left were open air seating areas with gaggles of smokers gathered around the propane gas patio heaters. I could feel the cobbled streets through my boots. It was flipping freezing and my scarf had gotten dewy where I had pulled it up to keep my nose warm and ended up breathing through it.
In my right ear I had been listening to the units telling "Whisky Victor" how they were heading back to the station following an arrest, nursing some dangerously drunk individual or otherwise busy.
It had reached the point where I was trying to figure out if I was the only copper left in this little corner of tobacco smoke and lager scented paradise when "she" appeared.
And she was a sight to behold. Taller than me. Older than me - I think. Wider than me. She was wearing the tiniest of black dress and very clippy shoes. She was also pretty drunk and obviously immune to the freezing temperature.
I did the gentlemanly thing and ignored her, hoping she would pass by and take her entourage of similar looking friends with her. But no such luck.
"I love policemen," I heard her say. Then I looked and knew I was doomed. She had changed course and was coming straight toward me. She was sucking her right middle finger in what, I assume, she thought was a seductive way. Her left hand was making little circular motions over her left chest, as we say. Again, I can only assume she thought it would inspire me to some sort of friendly response. It didn't.
To cap it all, literally, when she got close enough she took her finger out of her mouth, reached over and tried to touch the metal rose on the tip of my custodian police helmet. That last sentence is not a euphemism either.
I briefly considered arresting her for either a public order offence, common assault, possible battery if the finger got as far as the rose or some such. I didn't. Instead I decided to exercise Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 in the prevention of the aforementioned "crimes".
She stepped back very abruptly when I pushed, using an open palm against her right shoulder and applying only as much force as was necessary, proportionate and legal in the circumstances to stop her touching my little metal rose.
As it happened she started to shout, "You can't do that! Who the f*** do you think you are!" and quite a lot of other colourful language. Then her entourage joined in. Then the smokers, hearing the distressed ladies shouting about how a policemen was picking on them, started to walk over.
So what did I do?
Actually I can't remember exactly, but it involved picking the smokers as the group I should really deal with first. I think I was less than friendly when I turned to face them, but we quickly built a rapport. They were actually a bunch of Navy lads who soon worked out what was going on.
By the time I turned back to send the ladies on their way, they too had left.
And the moral is what?
Is it to make sure you dress up for the weather? Perhaps you shouldn't get drunk? Maybe trying to put your wet finger on an on duty police officer's head gear is not actually a good idea? Or even, the police are there to do a job and try and keep people safe so expecting them to act as the butt of a drunken joke is unlikely to end well for the joker.
PS Please drive safely and as always be kind and honest this Christmas.