Thursday, July 5, 2012

'Allo, 'Allo. 'Allo - Don't Touch That Torch!

This morning I took a phone call from the police. “Mr Edwards, have you got a couple of minutes to answer some questions?” Automatically I thought, “Shit, they’ve caught me.” Funny how the fuzz always make you feel guilty irrespective of your innocence. The thoroughly charming DS Burrows (long time reader, first time caller) wanted to know if I had any plans to disrupt the Olympic Torch relay when it passes through Portsmouth in a couple of weeks. Sadly I could only tell him that as time was against us there were no plans for any protest.

For me this raises two important questions. Firstly are the old bill the only people that read this bloody blog? Because if they are then I’m not sure I can be bothered to carry on. Alternatively I might lace every post with keywords such as “bomb” or “semtex” or “giant supersoaker” just to get my stats up. Or perhaps I should try and include meaningless phrases that sound like the code words out of ‘Allo ‘Allo: “After the paper sale the fox and the badger will meet by the river at midnight”. That should keep Special Branch busy for an hour or two.

Secondly, where did they get my phone number? It’s not as though I’ve filled in the personal details section on the Hampshire Constabulary website, asking to be kept informed of upcoming crackdowns on dissent. I don’t put my number on leaflets, or online, hell there are even members of my own family that don’t have it. Which means that they have either been given it by somebody in the movement (was it you? WAS IT?!) – which seems unlikely; obtained it from my phone network (possible); or  hacked my emails (would they sink that low without a Murdoch pay-off?). Not that it really matters. It’s just nice to know that they’re paying attention.

What was most striking, however, was the tone of the conversation. My boy Burrows was the height of polite enquiry, all sweetness and light, couching everything in terms of “our duty to facilitate your right to peaceful protest”. Compare this to the experiences of other people who have dared speak out against the giant corporate roadshow. Two plain-clothes cops visited Dave Coull, a 70-year-old pensioner from the tiny village of Edzell, after he sent a letter to his local paper, The Courier, pointing out that the torch’s origins lie in Nazi Germany. Pre-emptive arrests have been touted and, as this video shows, the police have gone into surreal training overdrive to prevent protests.

At the end of our conversation, DS Burrows said that if anyone was planning a protest around the torch they should be persuaded to call him immediately. All in the interests of public safety, you understand. So I consider that my civic duty done. Unfortunately I didn’t get a number for him, so if you need to get in contact just put your name on the internet or start a blog. I’m sure they’ll find your number somewhere. Keep ‘em peeled.