Let’s talk about crime in Britain.
On June 14, the newspaper carried two crime-related stories. The first took place on the Scilly (pronounced, yes, silly) Isles.
You have to understand that if Cornwall’s rural, the Scillies are not just rural but cut off by a whole lot of water. The only way to get there is to take a ferry or a small plane to the largest island. From there, you can take a boat to the smaller ones. None of the islands have much in the way of crime, so it made the news when someone slapped a phony parking ticket on a rented golf buggy and upset a tourist. I think a golf buggy is a golf cart in American, but I can’t swear to that because of my sports allergy, which is too severe for me to get near a golf course, never mind learn the vocabulary. Whatever it’s called, it was being used as transportation because forget bringing a car onto the islands. And it was parked, but not illegally.
The police say they consider the ticket a malicious communication, which can lead to a six-month jail sentence.
First, though, they have to find the culprit.
What else have the local cops been up to? A seal pup had wandered onto the main street (that’s the high street if you read British). They let it go with a warning. They also broke up a drunken fight between two chefs. It was about whether rock salt was better than sea salt.
Tough neighborhood. If you visit, don’t leave your wallet in your back pocket.
Those of you who aren’t British and followed the link may have been struck by the hats. People who want to be cops in Britain have all sorts of personal reasons, but I’ve never understood how they could get past the hats. I know one serving and one former cop and I’d ask them but I can’t think of a diplomatic way to word the question.
But someone will tell me why the hats are great, and that’s what makes a horse race, so let’s move on.
In Islington, a man was arrested for charging his phone from a socket on the London Overground Trains. He was handcuffed, hauled off to a British Transport police station for abstracting electricity, and then also arrested for unacceptable behavior and becoming aggressive. I’m not sure if this second arrest involved a second set of handcuffs and if the additional charge won him a third set, but I’m fascinated by the idea that they didn’t just throw extra charges at him, they rearrested him—presumably before they’d let him go in the first place.
Abstracting electricity carries a maximum sentence of five years. It’s enough to make a person think the phone isn’t all that important, y’know?
The culprit—sorry, the alleged culprit was later de-arrested. Give me back all those handcuffs, you malefactor!
As far as I know, nobody here uses the word malefactor, but the police really, honestly do use the word villain. With a straight face. It’s just, y’know, what they say. So they arrested the villain for abstracting electricity.
And here we should pause and consider the word abstracting. I know you can’t see electricity, but it seems real enough to my untutored mind, not abstract or theoretical or anything. But I didn’t go to law school, so what do I know? I still get thank-you letters from the schools I might have applied to because my grades were good and they just might have had to accept me.
Well. I apologize for not giving you a link to this earth-shaking article, but I read it in the print edition and can’t find it online. If you rely on electronic media and you can spend your life in ignorance of the things that matter. And maybe that means it really is abstract.
In a different week I might have skipped over both articles, but not long before I read them an expat website sent me a survey about crime “where you live.” I think they meant Britain, but since I live out in the country I told them what it was like literally (and I’m using literally in the literal sense of the word) where I live. I don’t usually answer surveys—it’s hopeless; give me two choices and I’ll pick the third—but for some reason I answered this one.
I wrote that a lot of people in our area leave their doors unlocked. Not everyone, but more than a handful. I know people who leave their keys in the car. It keeps them from wondering where they left them. Them being the keys, not the cars, which are still there in the morning. Except for the time two people who shall remain nameless (especially since I’ve forgotten who it was) decided they were too drunk to walk home so they’d have to drive. They’d walked to the pub, but they knew someone nearby whose keys were always in the car. I won’t get into either the wisdom or the ethics of that—they’re too obvious to bother with. Everyone lived and the car was returned.
That’s not the full list of crimes in the village. I’ll write about them another time.