Neil White: Christmas at the Police Station
On Christmas Day 1996, when my writing amounted to just screwed-up paper, I was a defence lawyer at a firm I had joined a couple of months before. The yuletide police station rota was being drafted and, trying to appear like the good guy, I put up my hand for Christmas Day.
‘Let those with children have their day,’ I said.
‘We’re going to my parents for dinner,’ my girlfriend said later.
‘I was told there’s never anyone in,’ I said.
There were three locked up for burglary. There was no room at the inn, but Blackburn police station was being very accommodating.
Two had burgled an office to steal computers, but those things were heavy, and they needed something to take them home in. So they pinched a wheelie bin from a nearby house. Unfortunately for them, the householder caught them, and as he tried to wrestle back his wheelie bin the police came round the corner.
Unfortunately for the householder, the police saw it as three men pushing a wheelie bin filled with stolen computers.
So it was a day of interviews, one after the other, and then each again.
The prisoners did okay. At some point three plastic cartons arrived, with turkey and vegetables and gravy, and sitting on top was a piece of Christmas cake, complete with marzipan and icing.
I waited outside as they ate. Hungry. They probably pulled crackers too.
The innocent guy made it home for the Queen’s Speech. The guilty ones moaned because I hadn’t brought them cigarettes.
By early evening, I was all done. I called my girlfriend from the custody area.
‘I’m just setting off,’ I said, relief in my voice.
‘Don’t bother,’ came the reply, and then the phone went dead.
‘Happy Christmas, Mr White,’ the sergeant said. He was wearing a paper hat.
Neil White’s page-turning thriller, Next to Die, is out now.