I’m reposting this (’tis the season)
“Can we have a word with you mate?”
“Yes of course, officer,” I replied.
“We just saw you shooting across the park, all in black, wearing a hooded top. Can you tell us where you have been?”
“I’ve been over there.”
“And what have you been doing, over there?” asked a lady copper, getting out of the car.
“Um… I’ve been painting”
“What have you been painting?”
I paused for a second to assess my situation, and brought my tone down an octave. I showed them the photos I’d just taken. Red paint splashed liberally, like in a gangster film.
“What type of paint is it?”
“Just poster paint,” I said innocently.
“Just poster paint? That will wash off in the rain, right?”
“Yes,” I said, fingering the spray can in my pocket. It was true, I hadn’t used the can in the end, not on that hit. There had been too many cars passing, even at 3am.
“I’m afraid you have caught me red-handed,” I said, showing them my red hands.
The scene, and the joke, reminded me of going to a concert by the cheesy hardcore outfit RatPack, whose one and only hit was ‘Searching for my Rizla’. Some vigilant bouncers busted me up to no good, and escorted me from the dancefloor, but not before I had time for a slight of hand. As they looked fruitlessly through my pockets for evidence of my crime, I couldn’t help but point out that they were searching for my Rizla.
The coppers, like the bouncers, looked like people in uniform tend to look when they are not in a position to smile at a very funny joke.
“Why were you painting the ground?” asked the lady cop slowly. She was slight, and she was foxy.
“It upsets me, seeing all these trees thrown out like this at Christmas,” I replied. And I started talking about Jesus.
“Do you have any ID?”
I skipped over my official clergyman’s ID card, and opted for another. They ran a name check, and found my good name to be clear. The lady cop talked into her walkie talkie whilst I praised the other guy for being so polite and decent. He was a tall lad, a good ten years younger than me.
I agreed wholeheartedly. His colleague returned, and explained that she had been told to give me a slap on the wrist. Fantasies tumbled through my mind.
“You don’t have a bike light, do you?” asked the young officer, rhetorically.
“Sorry, I took it off,” I explained. “It doesn’t really go with the burglar outfit.”