What the beep did he want?

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Peter Rosen­gard

IHAD just rid­den my scooter along Kens­ing­ton High Street wav­ing a very large Is­raeli flag. I’d been handed it moments ear­lier by a man on a mo­tor­bike who had so many flags he was try­ing to wave at once that he was about to fall off his Har­ley. “Here, take one of these, will you?” he said as he wob­bled off. I gave it a few trial waves, al­most man­ag­ing to blind a lady from Fin­land who was just com­ing out of Ur­ban Out­fit­ters. “I’m ter­ri­bly sorry, I was mar­ried to a Finn once”, I said. (I don’t know why I said that, ei­ther.)

I parked in a side street and was just tak­ing off my hel­met when a very large po­lice­man ran up.

“Right! I’m ar­rest­ing you, sir!” he shouted. “Re­ally? What have I done, of­fi­cer?” “Where is it?” he asked, point­ing to the back of the scooter. “It’s not there.”

“What’s not there, of­fi­cer?” “Your num­ber plate,” he said. I looked. It wasn’t. “I’ve no idea, of­fi­cer, It was def­i­nitely there when I left home this morn­ing.”

“Well, it’s not there now, is it, sir?” he said. “And another thing; I’m go­ing to ar­rest you for beep­ing.” “Beep­ing, of­fi­cer?” “That’s cor­rect, sir. Beep­ing. You were beep­ing the op­pos­ing group of demon­stra­tors as you rode past them to in­cite them.”

“Of­fi­cer, I was beep­ing to let your col­leagues, stand­ing in the mid­dle of Kens­ing­ton High Street, know that I was ap­proach­ing. If I re­mem­ber right the High­way Code clearly states that knock­ing down a po­lice­man could be re­garded as an of­fence. And frankly the op­po­si­tion didn’t look to me like they needed any more in­cit­ing. They were in a state of high in­cite­ment al­ready. In fact, I think they’d been in­cited ear­lier be­fore they left home”.

I must have been ges­tic­u­lat­ing as I was talk­ing and pos­si­bly, very slightly, touched his arm with­out even re­al­is­ing it. He leapt back­wards.

“Right! Touch me just one more time, sir, and I’m ar­rest­ing you for as­sault­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer.”

At this point, any rea­son­able man would have shut up and grov­elled. How­ever, never let any­one ac­cuse me of be­ing a rea­son­able man.

“Of­fi­cer, at this mo­ment, haven’t you re­ally got bet­ter things to do than ar­rest me for beep­ing?” I said. “There are thou­sands of peo­ple demon­strat­ing 20 feet away from us. Is it re­ally the best use of your valu­able time to ar­rest me — a man of hitherto unim­peach­able char­ac­ter, if you ig­nore the oc­ca­sion when I was 14 and trav­elled on the Cen­tral Line tube from East Ac­ton to Shep­herds Bush with­out a ticket — for beep­ing?”

“Just one minute, sir,” he said and shouted ex­cit­edly into his sleeve. “Four males in a white 4x4 head­ing east to­wards Knights­bridge with no seat­belts on!”

You’d think he’d just spot­ted the caliph of Isis go­ing in the di­rec­tion of Buck­ing­ham Palace.

It was at this point that I made the de­ci­sion to grovel.

He gave me a ticket for not dis­play­ing a num­ber plate.

“Just re­mem­ber, sir”, he said. “No more beep­ing.”

Knock­ing down a cop could be an of­fence...

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