Episode 5 Appealing to
In which almost everyone is in deep doo-doos
Now, I’m sure it’s not true
nowadays—though some of you are probably thinking ’He’s just saying that’—but,
in Eddie’s day, most police officers seem to have been sent on a special course
called Getting Hold of the Wrong End of the Stick. If it was possible to misunderstand
something that someone—a suspect, in particular—was saying, then a peeler/police
officer would take the wrong meaning.
Say, for example, you’re a suspect and you say ’ Good morning’ to a peeler, the
peeler will immediately ask: ‘What’s so good about this particular morning, ay?
Done something to make yourself feel particularly good, now, have ya?’ and you
know full well that the ‘Something’ he’s thinking of is something illegal, like
stealing a diamond the size of a plover’s egg or kicking a chicken, and that he’s
hoping to nail you for doing it, simply because you were being nice and polite
and saying ‘Good morning’. For, as well as getting hold of the wrong end of the
proverbial stick—which is like a real stick but, somehow, less sticky—peelers
were particularly fond of nailing people.
Now ‘nailing’ in this context doesn’t actually mean nailing as in ‘nailing a bookcase
together’ (or even on your won), or even nailing as in ’nailing poor unfortunate
people to crosses’ (as the ancient Roman authorities like to do), but ‘nailing
you for a crime’ or ‘pinging a crime on you’. In other words, being able to say
‘You dunnit’ (even if you haven’t done it, but it’ d be a bonus if you had).
Today people say: ‘You can never find a police officer when you need one’, unless,
of course, they have found a police officer when they needed one, in which case,
they’ll probably say nothing. In Eddie’s day, people would probably have said:
’What’s that funny man in the funny hat and the funny uniform?’ and pointed, laughed
or thrown stones. Or all three.