That’s it. I’m done. I’m turning to a life of crime. I’m already a fugitive on the run. Wearing disguises and using fake names until I can get a new passport and flee the country.
Ya see, what happened was…
Hannah and I have Covid. We got it in London, so we’re a bit rough at the mo. Aches. Fatigue. Chills. Sore throats and so on. But we also have dogs, and dogs need exercise.
So yesterday we decided to take them out for twenty minutes in the afternoon. I’d been working all day and figured some air might help us feel better.
We popped the dogs into my van and poodled down to the seafront. It was low tide, and in Ryde the tide goes out like half a mile. And what with us being all infectious we decided to go out onto the sands to keep away from people.
Parts of that beach are subject to dog bans. But the exclusion zone only extends a very short distance from the wall – and we went out right to the low tide mark, which is perfectly allowed.
Anywho. So then we see this lifeguard approaching us. It’s busy. There’s lots of kids and families in the sea, but this lad isn’t paying any attention to them. He’s marching over to us – so we put our dogs on the lead and he tells us we’re not allowed on certain parts of the beach.
We said we know, but we are allowed on this part.
‘No, but I’m telling you you’re not allowed on other parts.’
‘Okay,’ we said.
But he didn’t go. He stayed watching us. It was super odd. He was only 16 or 17, and with both of us feeling super icky we figured we’d just go home – so we headed back towards the shore.
But the young lifeguard followed us and he’s talking into his radio and keeping us under surveillance, while facing away from the actual sea and all the people being eaten by sharks and jellyfish.
Now, I know it was naughty, but it was super irritating being followed and I was feeling yucky so I thought stuff it, and instead of walking 30 yards to the bit where dogs are allowed to cross, I went over the teeeeeeeny tiny and totally empty bit of beach where dogs are not allowed to cross.
At which point the lifeguard called in SWAT. Seriously. Well, okay, maybe not that bad, but we were instantly approached by three enforcement officers and told to stop and stand still and don’t move.
‘You’re on the beach with a dog! You’re getting a ticket! Stand still!’
It was super hot though with no shade and the lifeguard had already upset Crusty, so I said ‘I’m gonna put my dogs in the van. It’s right there.’
‘NO! STAND STILL!’
One of them was charging at me. All three were middle aged women. Super officious and full of authority. I said ‘It’s hot. There’s no shade. I need to put my dogs away.’
The angry one wanted to block me off, but one of the others said I was allowed to put my dogs away.
It didn’t get any better after that.
I put the dogs away and turned back. ‘YOU ARE BEING RECORDED!’ the angry one told me and pointed at her body camera.
‘So are you,’ I said and looked at my phone in my hand recording them.
Dear god. You’d think I’d shit on their toes the way they reacted. They got all panicky and weird and started barking at me in this horrible way and winding themselves up. It was like we’d just stabbed someone or committed some terrible offence. All we’d done was cross a tiny section of empty beach.
I was super polite. I always am. But I simply refused to comply. I wouldn’t give my name. I wouldn’t give my details. I said no. Politely. Calmly. They got angry and couldn’t deal with the passive non-compliance. ‘Call the police!’ one of them said to the others.
‘What for?’ I asked.
But they didn’t know what for, so they flustered and blustered. Then one of them cautioned me. ‘You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’
I’ve said the caution thousands of times as a cop and you must be sure the person being cautioned understands it.
They didn’t. They just moved on.
I said. ‘Can you explain the caution please.’
(I know I should have just shut up, but you don’t when people treat you like that.)
Neither of them could explain the caution. One of them started rambling on about CCTV. They had no idea what it meant. They’d just been told it was something they had to say – and there’s another issue here too, if a uniformed authority tells someone to stop and then cautions them, the person being cautioned will think they are being detained. So you have to tell them they are not under arrest and they are not being detained.
That didn’t happen either.
Anyway, it all got very silly – like really daft and they were just winding themselves up. And I figured I had crossed the teeeeeeeny tiny empty section of beach and clearly murdered several people, and it was hot, and my dogs needed to get home and I had Covid, so I said whatever and gave my name and details
But the angry one had wound herself up so much she couldn’t spell Richard. Or the word DOG. Her hands were shaking. I said, ‘I’m absolutely no threat to any of you. I just didn’t want to comply after the way you spoke to me.’
And boooom! The angry one started shouting over me with this voice that was getting louder and the other one is calling in snipers and attack dogs… At which point, my Covid addled brain finally realised that they actually don’t have the power to detain. Nor is there any separate penalty by walking off. Which they had said was the case at the start.
I said, ‘do you have a power in law to detain me?’
Jeepers. The blood drained out of their faces. The angry one wanted to knife me. The other one just mumbled no.
‘I’m going then.’ I said and started getting in my van.
‘NO! You have to wait until I give you the ticket!’ the angry one said.
‘So you are detaining me then?’
One of the others had to stop the angry one from fisticuffing me to the ground and said I could go.
So I did.
Honestly. What the f*ck was all that about?
I think a lot of people have been flouting the dog bans on the beaches, so they’re going all nuts to enforce the exclusion zones. Which is fine. But don’t get 16 year old life guards to police the beach and tell people not to do things they are already not doing – while paying zero attention to the actual sea and the people in it.
And you reeeeaaaally don’t need to speak to people like that. It’s a minor civil offence. We’re good people. Professional people. Polite. Hard-working. Shit like that is too much. Do you know what I mean? Our energy bills are sky-high. Fuel prices. Food costs. Mortgages are going up. Everything is going up. People are really hard-pressed at the mo and over enforcing the law like that does not help at all. Especially when the whole area is covered in litter and broken beer bottles.
I do feel a bit guilty though. I should have just shut up and been compliant, but then again, maybe I was right to display non-compliance.
So yes. I’m now a fugitive with hordes of teenage lifeguards searching the town with big red floaty sticks and walkie-talkies while the bad cop / bad cop / rabid mouth-frothing cop relay the story that Hannah and I were armed with bombs and machetes.
We’re gonna flee to Brazil and live under new names, but simple ones that are easy to spell. Unlike Richard. Which apparently is super hard to spell.
That was my Thursday.
Hope yours was better.