Well, yes, I think they do, and this is why I think so.
You may think it’s a strange question, and maybe it is, but hopefully by the time you’ve finished reading you will a) understand the question and b) be smiling if not laughing. Too much doom and gloom in the news, time for some good, old-fashioned humour.
Remember the days before we were Single Crewed? It seemed to work out that I was always teamed up with my best mate, I’ll call him Tony cos that’s his name. One bright sunny Sunday morning we were patrolling the streets of the Metropolis knowing full well that our least favourite Sergeant was Custody Officer (or Station Officer as it was back then pre PACE).
Eventually we came across a right shady character entering a house which was undergoing renovation. A) It was Sunday, B) He wasn’t wearing builder’s clothes and C) he didn’t look like he was a resident of that particular street. So we parked up and followed him into the house as he had thoughtfully left the front door open.
We eventually found him upstairs in one of the bedrooms, along with 3 fully grown goats who were quite obviously very much alive. We recognised him, without introduction, as a local vagrant who was well-known as an Urban Goatherder. And the floor of the house was about 3 inches deep in goat shit!!
Tony and I looked at each other, what to do? we thought. He wasn’t stealing anything, he was just a squatter. We could have chucked him and his goats out into the sunshine and bad him farewell, directing him in a friendly manner, towards an adjoining Division, or, remembering who the Custody Officer was, we could nick him. The Vagrancy Act allows for this – Wandering Abroad and Causing an Offensive Consequence, but there is no Power of Arrest for this offence without the presence of the Offensive Consequence.
Well, we both thought that standing in 3″ of goatshit was quite offensive, so we searched the house until we found a carrier bag. In the absence of a probationer we had to take it upon ourselves to seize a sample of the Offensive Consequence as we were pretty sure that the Custody Officer would require some evidence. The on-call Photographer was then summoned to the scene, he/she wouldn’t have anything else to do on a Sunday morning, would they?
Eventually we presented ourselves to the Custody Officer, together with our very co-operative prisoner and his 3 goats, and a carrier bag full of evidence. The Sergeant, let’s call him Wilf, was ecstatic, we could tell. Or was that apoplexy?, always did get those two confused.
Having tried, and failed, to talk us out of this prosecution, it slowly dawned on Wilf that he was now responsible for the prisoner’s Property i.e 3 live goats. Oh how he laughed. After much research and many phone calls to Scotland Yard he eventually found an RSPCA establishment who were willing to take them off his hands.
You may think that’s the end of the story, but oh no, you’d be wrong. It has a very sad end.
Our very co-operative prisoner was granted bail from Court the following morning, and it seems that his mission in life was to find the Top Secret RSPCA establishment and STEAL his goats back. Poor Wilf was distraught, he had to fill in forms he’d never even heard of before. It seems that losing Prisoner’s Property is taken very seriously in the Met. Who knows, he might even still be writing.
So, “what’s this got to do with Freemasons?” I hear you ask. Let me tell you.
One Autumn evening I was once more on patrol with Tony when we were called to an address re Property Found In The Street. Our lady caller showed us a suitcase in the nearby park. Having done an Instant Risk Assessment and decided that it wasn’t a bomb, we gingerly opened the case only to find a full set of Masonic regalia. In a nano-second we realised that once again Wilf, our firm favourite, was in charge of the Station.
So we stopped somewhere discreet on the way back to the nick and I donned the said regalia, as they were just about my size. We continued back to the Station where Tony announced our presence to Wilf and told him that we needed to book in some Found Property.
Well, I don’t think Wilf was feeling very well that day, as soon as he saw me he turned a sort of purple colour and said “WRIGHT, take that off, take it off now and NEVER let me see you wearing anything like that again”.
I took it from that, that I had been black-balled and would be ineligible for entry to the local Lodge, or any other probably.
Fact or Fiction? You decide. As long as you laughed it doesn’t really matter.
If you want another laugh at my expense, you’ll find one here.