Anorak News | Business As Usual, With Added Tinsel

Business As Usual, With Added Tinsel

by | 1st, January 2007

THERE are two reasons that people call the police:
1. We are open 24 hours a day.
2. We have a telephone number that’s really easy for people to remember.

For most of the year, a large proportion of the people I deal with are either drunk, bored or both. True, there’s always a few reporting that they’ve been woken up by burglars who’ve smashed their way in and stolen the keys to their car, but they’re in a minority. So, just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean that the soap-opera that is life in the underclass has to stop.

People don’t stop arguing because it’s Christmas. In fact, for most of my regular customers, having the family round simply means having more distant family members to argue with. So shortly after this particular argument all kicked off, I was knocking at the front door asking, “Who’s called the police this time?”

Looking at the scene in front of me, it was hard not be a bit depressed. This particular flat has had a piece of wood instead of a piece of glass in the window, where the window got smashed a few weeks earlier in another domestic. I had always thought that this made the place look rather small, but this evening, with some of the festive lights still glowing, the flat looked like a modern interpretation of a stable. Even so, the tree itself was at a 45 degree angle with most of the decorations crushed on the floor, the rest of the decorations had been destroyed by one or other of the adults now shouting at me. And the children were crying. This particular Nativity scene had children, animals and gifts. Unfortunately is was missing a virgin and some wise men.
I observed what I can only describe as the true meaning of Christmas from the relative safety and quiet of the kitchen, allowing everyone else a good minute or two of shouting time so they could get everything off their chests before I started trying to pacify people. In contrast to the living room, it was clear that someone had made an effort with the catering. I’ve visited this address a number of times before and I never knew they actually owned real saucepans, but here they are, with real vegetables ready to be cooked!

It didn’t take long to find out what had gone on: a mother-in-law who was “always interfering” had invited herself to the flat for Christmas, and a years’ worth of disagreements has resulted in the mother of all rows. The wife had taken her mother’s side and now they were both asking me to remove the man from the flat. Fortunately for me, he’d had enough as well, and was only to keen to go round to his brother’s house for the night.

I seem to spend most of my time sorting out other people’s domestic arrangements, and Christmas time is no exception. The rows are a little more intense and the combatants are a little less forgiving, believing, as they do, that they have an absolute right to a happy Christmas. The only thing that’s different is the tinsel.

A heroin addiction doesn’t stop for Christmas and our jolly band of addicts have been hard at work ensuring that as few people as possible get to enjoy their Christmas. It wasn’t until Christmas morning that Mr. Rogers went to his shed to get the boys presents out that he found that the door had been forced open and the two new bicycles removed. Once again, it’s the same old thing, but with extra anguish. I went along to see what we could do.

Just a few days before this, we managed to catch up with one person responsible for loads of these kinds of thefts, and when we had him in, he told us he’d done about twenty others. However, telling Mr. Jones that there was obviously more than one thief on duty over Christmas probably wasn’t going to improve his mood. It probably wouldn’t have made things much better if I’d have told Mr. Jones that the thief’s time in jail would represent no more than a few days for each shed he’d broken into.

I took a statement and knocked on a few doors, but wasn’t hopeful. Neither was Mr. Jones really. I was just glad I could stay outside and not have to look at the kids, who wouldn’t be getting their new bikes.

There’s always something of a truce on Christmas Eve when it comes to policing the town centre. Nobody is particularly keen to make an arrest, not because I have any real sympathy for the drunken idiots who make up the bulk of our work, but because on Christmas Day itself, we don’t like to do much other than play Monopoly and watch television. The last thing we want to be doing is dealing with prisoners.

Because of the arcane overtime and manning arrangements in the police, Christmas Eve is one of the few times of the year when as a shift we’re actually up to full strength. People who I’ve never seen before, emerge from their offices in the police station and walk into the town centre wearing ill-fitting stab-vests that haven’t been worn since the same time last year. It’s not just families that fight at this time of year though. Hastily organised Christmas parties mean that people who spend most days hating each other in the office are suddenly forced to drink together. The bonhomie rarely lasts much beyond the third alcopop and it’s soon time for us to get the handcuffs on one or more idiots who were unable to control their tempers.

Drink has an amazing effect on people. So much so that you can tell someone that if they continue to swear in the street and be aggressive they will be arrested and will therefore not be able to spend Christmas Day with their families. You warn them, you explain it simply to them, you cajole them (“Come on son, you don’t want to get locked for Christmas do you?”)

It never seems to make any difference though and it isn’t until they’re handcuffed and in the van after having had a brief, but ultimately futile, fight with the police that they say, “Look I’m really sorry. Can’t you just let me go, after all…it is Christmas.”

Posted: 1st, January 2007 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink