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The other day a man stopped me in the street and asked if I’d had an accident in the last twelve months. When I said I had, he launched into a terrifying sales pitch. He told me that I could sue somebody and receive all the money. He was frenzied and slightly threatening which made me feel rather uncomfortable so I asked him to back off. It didn’t help that he was wearing a big puffa jacket which seemed to give him the air of a nightclub bouncer. The shaved head and clipboard completed the picture and for a moment I wondered if he was going to beat me up and then sue me for hurting his fists. However  he eventually became slightly less loony and asked me some questions.

He asked me where the accident had happened and I told him that it was in my kitchen. He seemed taken aback by this but being the big scary man he was, pressed on regardless. He then asked if the accident had been caused by a tradesman. I told him that there were no tradesmen, only me.

Then he asked me to describe the accident in detail. So I told him that I had been reaching into a high cupboard and upset a tin of paint which poured its contents all over my head. I also informed him that I was forced to cut off my hair because it was gloss paint and wouldn’t come out with water.

It was at this point he called me a “fucking idiot” and walked away.

Yes I know it was naughty but it was great fun and I can heartily recommend taunting such people.  Of course I’ve nothing on the brilliant Robert Popper, whose Robin Cooper phone calls and letters are the stuff of legend but for a small town boy like me, it was the nearest I could get to it.

Over the last few nights I’ve been watching a series of documentaries on National Geographic HD called America’s Toughest Prisons. Each episode is a fascinating incite into the world of  long term prisoners in the US.  What fascinated me the most was the gulf between the crime and the man who committed it. Quite often they would be chatting to a nice intelligent bloke – somebody who you would happily spend an afternoon sinking a few pints with– and then tell you that he’d molested and killed a child.

One guy was in prison for 75 years because he accidentally killed a man during a robbery he’d committed to get money for HIV medication.  The guy was lovely; which was remarkable considering what he’d been through. He had been raped more times than he could remember, both by officers at a county jail and by inmates at his last prison. He was quiet, camp as knickers and deeply regretted his crime; yet he will have to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Some might say the punishment fits the crime but I don’t think locking somebody away for the rest of their life for a crime, committed as a final act of desperation, can ever be considered fitting.  However there are people in this country who campaign for  similarly harsh sentences to meted out to offenders. These are coincidentally the same people who would like to see trial by jury scrapped altogether and replaced with trial by a single judge behind closed and locked doors.

Wow that was all very ‘worthy’ of me, sorry about that.

Haggis for tea.

Crime and Accident

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