Nicked by the Old Bill: I’ll Go Quietly, Officer!
An evening of tech networking at a trendy bar in Brick Lane last Friday evening kicked off to a resounding start when I had the pleasure of being searched as part of a terrorist operation by London’s finest. (Or should I say the pleasure was all theirs?) Apparently what transpired is officially classified as a “Stop and Account” – and I’ve a souvenir to prove it. Okay, I know I can get a bit intense sometimes, especially in romantic situations, but to be stopped by the police as a possible terrorist suspect? Bad enough my poor bear had to contend with a body search last September at San Francisco International Airport, but now me? Is something wrong with this picture?
I know; you probably don’t believe me anymore. Hell, I don’t believe me either. My life just seems to get more and more ridiculous by the day – and these are just the little tidbits I choose to actually tell you about. Can you imagine the bits I don’t disclose? Why, it doesn’t bear thinking about! Now before you go getting all hot and bothered, let me clarify the situation: it was not a body search. There was no patting down of my bits (they just love doing this to me at Heathrow!), and no bodily orifices probed. (I prefer to reserve that for special occasions.) Besides, it was too bloody cold out to strip off for the London Met. No, it was more of a handbag search – and a superficial one at that, as if we were just going through the motions…
…As perhaps we were.
Why me? That’s a question I always ask myself – a question for which I never receive an answer. I can only conclude that it’s my aura. It was all my fault, I realise that now. I saw people being stopped left and right, and wondered why there was such a huge police presence on Brick Lane, especially at only half past six in the evening. I’ve been there many times and never have I seen this. I mean, had someone stuck a bomb in a curry? Had one of the Bangladeshi sweets exploded with nails? Maybe I should’ve taken the hint and gone off in the other direction, but I couldn’t find the venue where this geek and meet was supposed to be held and frankly, I was getting annoyed.
I noticed one officer standing about with nothing to do, so I went over to ask him for directions to the bar, which to all intents and purposes either didn’t exist or didn’t want to be found. Well, not only did he give me completely erroneous information (guess he wasn’t from around these parts), but he glommed onto me for this terrorist schtick. I told him that I’d always thought London coppers were supposed to be nice, not like the big bad mean ones in America with their big guns, whereupon he assured me that London coppers are nice, and they don’t carry guns. (Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?). He then proceeded to take down my vital statistics (well, those I chose to give), even asking for my address. I should have lied. For all I know that cheeky copper will be coming round with a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. I mean, you can never tell these days.
Now I don’t want to get all controversial here (or maybe I do), but it seemed odd that in an area of East London so heavily populated with ethnic minorities I saw not even one member of an ethnic minority being stopped – only those who were clearly not members of an ethnic minority, just pasty English folk (or, in my case, pasty Hungarian-American folk). Granted, perhaps if I’d hung about longer it might have happened, but I was there long enough to suss the setup, and thereby conclude that what was purported to be an all-inclusive “Stop and Account” did not appear to be so all-inclusive.
Was this a case of reverse-discrimination tactics by the police to prove a point to those in the local community who are generally the targets of such discrimination? Because I can’t help thinking that if someone from a minority had been stopped for a terrorist search (and possibly detained), all hell would’ve broken loose – especially in this part of London. The incident would have hit every television channel and newspaper in the country, with every solicitor in the country fighting one another tooth and nail to take on the case pro bono. Hey, I can only go by my observations, and that is what I observed, so please don’t lay any accusations of racism on my doorstep (though I’m sure someone will still have a go at me). I had a long-term relationship with a man from a country on virtually everyone’s shit list – a country accused of sponsoring terrorism; I doubt the BNP will be welcoming me into their ranks anytime soon!
As for my new career in anarchy, despite the very respectful and friendly demeanour of the officer in question, I wonder if I should have kicked up a fuss. I mean, how often do you hear about expat American authors being “profiled” by the police? I might start a whole new trend. In retrospect, however, it was probably a wise move on my part to omit the fact that I write and edit erotic fiction when speaking to the officer, even though I could have gotten some book sales out of the deal. And it was probably wiser yet to keep stum about my foray into crime fiction with my anthology Getting Even: Revenge Stories (
Ca). Think what might have happened to me then!
Mind you, don’t most prisons have WiFi access these days?
Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: Bangladeshi, Bangladeshi sweets, BNP, Brick Lane, crime fiction, curry, East London, erotic fiction, ethnic minorities, geek, Getting Even: Revenge Stories, London, Metropolitan Police, networking, Old Bill, pro bono, racism, search, Stop and Account, terrorism.