Monday, September 26, 2011
"The only thing that took me out of my thoughts was our weekly stoned pool competitions at the Green Cloth in Swan Street Richmond. After we'd finished playing and the place was closing up for the night, the three of us would often smoke dope with the owner, a well-known comedic radio horse-racing identity, whose grassy nomenclature might not necessarily have been a reference to track conditions.
On one particular night though, there were a couple of changes to our routine. Firstly, Ritzy pulled a late shift at work and was unable to join us. Secondly, the Green Cloth was temporarily closed for renovations, so Shane and I decided to head to the grimy ambience of Players on Camberwell Junction instead.
Usually we would fire up a couple of joints before driving down to the pool hall. But this time, Shane insisted on us having freshly buzzing heads as we clambered up the creaky staircase to the foyer, to be greeted by the creepy mural of Eddie Charlton and Ray Reardon staring down on us judgementally.
So it was on that cold, wet and wintry night, that we found ourselves passing a joint around in the darkened Camberwell carpark, opposite the deserted lumberyard, as Shane's car filled up with thick plumes of acrid, pungent smoke. Big mistake. For just at that moment, a pair of blinding headlights flooded our car, we heard a short, sharp siren, and immediately my eyes darted to the rear view mirror, where I saw the tell-tale flashing of a blue light. "Oh No", I groaned. Futilely I stamped out the joint butt, and slipped it under the floor mat. Equally futilely, Shane rolled down his window, and tried to waft the thick blanket of fog away with several frantic sweeps of his arm. The two cops were stony-faced and emotionless as they asked us, rather rhetorically I thought, what we were doing. Then they spun us round, and subjected us to the humiliating ordeal of a frisk.
Once they were satisfied that we weren't carrying any concealed weapons, they stopped patting us down. But the one frisking me, perhaps because I was wearing a leather biker's jacket, gave me a cursory squeeze on the bum. I don't know if he was a bender and thought I was similarly inclined, or if he was trying to provoke me into taking a swing at him. In those days of "Frankie Goes To Hollywood", people made a lot of assumptions about someone wearing a leather jacket. Either way, there was no way I was going to react. If I'd been the type to resort to violence, I would have decked Shane years ago.
All the other cop found on Shane was the little gram bag of kiff, which he promptly upended into the gutter, and let the steady rain wash it away.
'Look boys, we don't care if you have a smoke', he said in a way that suggested he might even indulge himself when he was off duty. "But next time, just do it in the privacy of your own home okay"? He said, as I glowered bullets at Shane, because that's what I'd tried without any luck to convince him to do all along. And with that, they climbed into their divvy van and rolled slowly out of the carpark, leaving us standing bedraggled in the rain.