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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

 

Weird summer stuff

This is yet another post I’ve held back from the summer months which you may find amusing / interesting.

Parkland car park patrol, late evening shift. A late muggy summers afternoon just before some fairly heavy duty thunderstorms hit. I’m busy trying to persuade people to move out of an annexe we want to close up for the night. The thunderstorms would make the annexe ground soggy and turn it into a mudbath, leading to stuck vehicles and compensation claims, so we’re pretty keen to have all the vehicles out by six.

“Excuse me mate.” A man with greying dark hair signals me over.
“Yes sir, how can I help?” He seems pleasant enough and not inclined to bollock me for anything so I’m fairly relaxed about this summons.
“You look after these car parks?” He asks. This has to be rhetorical, right?
“I patrol them sir, yes.”
“Can you get a call through to the Police?” Hello.
“I can call my control and get them to pass it on, yes sir.”
“It’s just that I’ve seen this bloke acting a bit strangely – him over there.” Man in shorts indicates male in late thirties (I think) wearing a black polo shirt walking along a path on the other side of the park around a hundred metres away. “He keeps wandering in and out of the bushes, I’ve seen him change his shirt three times. I think he’s a sex attacker looking for a woman or child to grab.” Sure enough, I watch for a few seconds and the man indicated bobs out of view into the bushes by the path. A minute late he’s sauntering down the path, now wearing a white shirt, in the general direction of a young mother with a little lad in tow.

This is a bit too strange to be true. If I was a Policeman or PCSO I’d have collared him by now and asked him what the hell he was doing. I radio CCTV and my heart sinks, it’s everyone’s least favourite operator.
“515 here control. Got a suspicious character in the park, looks like he’s stalking lone women and children. Any chance of someone down here?”
“What do you mean 515?” Oh God, here we go.
“I’ve got a male, white, mid to late thirties keeps on bobbing in and out of the bushes at the bottom end of the park. Keeps on changing his shirt. He’s currently heading towards a young female and child on the path.”
“I don’t understand 515, what are you saying?” Young woman is on phone and suddenly looks up and waves at Husband / Boyfriend striding across the parkland towards her. Suspicious man sheers off across towards bushes again. That clinches it. He’s up to something.
“Control, I’m saying I may have a suspicious person stalking young women and children.” There, is that clear enough for you? “Can you get one of your cameras on him.” I reel off the location.
“515, I can’t get a camera on that location.” Oh, bloody wonderful.
“Have you clocked him?” Man asks.
“Yes, he’s definitely up to something.”
“I used to be a Policeman.” Man tells me by way of an explanation. “He’s definitely stalking every youngish woman who uses that path.”
“Control, any chance of a PCSO or someone down here?”
“Er no 515, all units are busy at the moment. Can you keep an eye on him for me?” Fornicate with an inflammable Anatidae! Doesn’t Control believe me? I shrug helplessly at the ex copper. He says nothing. The guy we’re watching suddenly catches on that a man in uniform is watching him. He freezes and then reverses his path, ducking out of sight. I try to convince control to get me some help. “I’ve got to get on with my patrol. I’ll hang on for another ten minutes.” I’m trying to drop a hint here. Most of the car park is rapidly emptying so fortunately there’s not much to do right this minute. My mobile phone rings, it’s Kerry, my line Manager.
“Hello Bill, have you got a problem?”
“Oh, hi Kerry. I’ve got a very dodgy character down at the bottom of the park by the annexe. May be a stalker. Control can’t get a camera on him, so I’ve agreed to keep an eye on him for ten minutes.”
“Okay, can you keep it off the air? I want to call some of the other guys.”
“Roger that. I’ll phone control.”
“Cheers Bill. Bye.”

Man pops back into view with the same dark polo shirt he had on when I first saw him. I go on checking the last few cars. Now he does something very odd indeed. He ostentatiously walks to the centre of the grassed over area and sits down right in the middle, trying not to look as though he’s watching three teenage girls sitting under a tree. As I work my way down the car park, he appears to be turning ninety degrees every minute or so, watching for watchers. I phone control and tell them. Still no bloody help. Do I have to watch a rape in progress to get taken seriously here? Chummy notices me again and turns his back in a ‘I’m not doing anything – honestly guv’nor’ manner. The teenage girls have noticed his unwelcome attention and I overhear the scornful tone of their voices. He gets to his feet and walks off fifty metres before sitting down on the grass again, repeating the same turning schedule as before. Either he’s a stalker or has a real obsessive compulsive disorder problem.

Okay. Time for a bit of tactics here. What happens if I just innocently head towards the end machine for a last check as the car park is almost clear? It’s at a forty five degree angle to him but he won’t know that. Thank God for that! He’s on his feet and moving. Hells bells he’s running like a startled rabbit! He looks as though he’s seen something or someone he doesn’t want to meet and he’s on his feet and moving out of the Park rapidly. I don’t think it was me who spooked him either. Maybe there’s a Copper or a CSO over in the distance. Anyway, he’s out of my hair.

Last car lurches out of the overflow car park and I lock the gate. Ex-Copper gives me a wave as he drives by. I give him a nod and a wave back. Tea break is calling. I get back to base just as the day shift guys are going home. A couple of them give me some stick about chasing perverts off the car park. I give them a weak smile and let the barratry slide off. Roll on home time. It starts to rain, heavily.

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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