I’ve always been a good boy.
Law abiding. Head well beneath the parapet. Not a toe out of line.
When the UK riots were kicking off my first thoughts were not to rush out and help myself to a nice new pair of orange bri-nylon Nikes and an iPad but to bemoan the state of the nation’s youth and to wish our boys in blue the best of British as they marched out to meet the semi-illiterate foe, wot ‘ad taken to the streets, innit, to protest about the interest rates, the war in Afghaniswotsit and the fact that they couldn’t, like, afford to buy all them widescreen plasmas wot get shown on The Gadget Show every week, you get me, bruv?
I stayed at home in my pinstripe and my bowler hat and waved my sober umbrella in middle-class outraged fury at the scenes of wanton damage being shown on my non-widescreen, fat, cathode ray tube telly. I was a good boy.
And that’s the problem.
In my current novel (and, indeed, in my previous one) the main characters have run foul of the law. They’ve had their collars felt. I’ve had to write a police interview / interrogation scene.
And in all honesty I have absolutely no first-hand experience of how these are actually conducted at all. My only reference points are film and TV but just how accurate is it to depict suspects having plastic bags held over their heads and then being kicked around a dusty evidence room by a furious Gene Hunt? Do the police still do that? Or does that just happen in the armed forces now?
Do the police still do the old good cop / bad cop routine?
Or is it all touchy feely now – calling in a gestalt therapy counsellor, a PTSD specialist, a pedicurist and a Swedish masseuse?
My wife assures me that the police are people too and, actually, unlike the portrayal of the force on the telly, most interviews are conducted in a very conversational manner. When I asked her how she knows this she made a quick excuse about being late for a community service appointment and hotfooted it out of the house as if she had a bag of swag under each arm. Most curious.
So anyway, I’m now wishing I’d pulled a bank heist or two when I was younger. Misspent my youth a bit. Nicked the odd car. Gun ran. Grew drugs at the allotment. Defecated on the carpet at Fortnum & Masons.
I’m now looking back on the summer’s riots in the UK and wondering if I missed an opportunity there.
Not for the sake of getting a widescreen telly.
But for the sake of my writing.
I’m sure the judge would have understood.
Don’t you agree?