Jamie Snoll is a drug-dealer from Essex, who is stepping into Matt Delito's shoes for today's column and offering up a view from the other side of crime...The police radio hasn't stopped fackin' crackling away, though I can hardly hear anything over the spluttering, gagging and retching. It takes another minute before I can open my burning eyes as wide as I can, and then realise that spluttering sound was coming from...me? Closing my eyes as the stinging intensifies, it hit homes that I have been the victim of a CS gas attack...a gas attack that I can't exactly report to the police, considering they were the assailants in the first place.
As my foe Matt Delito has been struck down by the manflu again (I can sympathise with manflu of course, but given he's a pig, and all pigs are the same, I'm yanking that sympathy right back), I thought I'd try and tell my side of the story. Don't consider it the life of a petty criminal -- I prefer to see it as me running a small business. A relaxation business. After all, I provide all my customers -- a cross-section of the population so vast that I could not begin to categorise them -- with the best skunk in Essex.
I'm not sure if I've ever had any "dealings" with PC Delito, as he's said before he goes by a different name, and anyway, in my experience, all police are lying c***s. For the most part I am a well-behaved individual, but I guess I made some poor choices back in my teens, which mean I'll never work for a company that checks criminal backgrounds, or ever be allowed into the United States.
But back to that CS gas attack...
How the hell did such a normal day quickly unravel and become another clusterfudge? The day started normally enough, as I wandered into the lounge of the flat I rent (rent from the council, anyway). It was a tip; the sofa covered with the sleeping bag my cousin Steve had brought with him late last night.
His had not been a happy home for a few reasons, namely due to his girlfriend being pregnant, and another reason that will come up later. Steve's sleeping bag was empty as he'd left for work by then; I guess I won't find out until tonight if he was crashing at mine again, or if he'd managed to put a plaster over the hole of the submarine that his relationship resembled, and crawled home.
After tea and a mid-morning doze on the sofa, a trip into town seemed necessary. Steve had drunk all of the Strongbow, and although every can he knocks back comes with a promise of a replacement, they never seem to materialise in my fridge. Plus, a visit into town would break up the monotony of a day that would otherwise be spent playing Xbox while waiting for the phone to ring, I figured.
The walk to town, just outside of London, was straight-forward and pleasant enough; a walk that always reminds me of walking to school. I liked school, though I bet you likely think I never actually went. I did though, I promise you -- for the free lunch, anyway. And the football. A crowning achievement was the third-year London cup victory, fags and booze crippled most of the team in the 4th and 5th years, but we still played well, and all thought we were going "pro" one day.
The small items needed from Pound Land collected, I rewarded myself with a stop in the town centre pub. As I walked in, I noticed two of the nation's finest walking along the high street, one of them being the slightly larger frame of PC Dickson, someone I have known thanks to a few silly decisions made after I left school. Nothing too serious, mind -- well, I was never charged. I always thought old Dickson had a soft spot for me, as he would take the time to chat, unlike other officers, who only wanted to wind you up.
As I stepped into the pub, I glanced across to the two officers who were chatting away pleasantly with a town drunk. 12pm, and the piss-heads are already taking up bench space outside Smokers' Mart? PC Dickson looked over in my direction for less than a second as I return his glance, but he looked distracted by the drunk's refusal to leave the town centre. Ransacking my mind, I realised I hadn't done anything wrong recently (well, nothing Dickson would be aware of), so had no reason to worry. Unless he knew of the few small bags of lemon haze in my flat...But that’s nothing to do with them, and I knew I was not holding anything on “my person”.
"Jay!" a voice called out from behind me, distracting me from the high street-happenings; its tone familiar and overly-friendly.
Four pints later, I emerged from the darkened saloon; a beautiful “buzz on” from the well-known stronger-than-average lager and back-to-back spliffs.
“Jay!” I heard again. Christ, am I popular, I internally gloated; mind you, the tone of this voice was a stark contrast to the one that had called my name as I entered the pub hours earlier. I slowly turned to face the unfamiliar voice while continuing to walk backwards, only to be confronted with PC Dickson and a younger colleague approaching me. It was the younger colleague who called my name; someone I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting until then.
Technically I hadn't done anything wrong, and any questioning or searching would allow me to walk away within five minutes.
I can trace back 99.9 per cent of my poorest life choices to beer, and clearly this was turning out to be another one.
“What do you want...Fuck off!” I slurred. Turning on my heel, the four beers lubricating my lower body, I aimed for the end of the high street and towards home. Luckily I hadn't bought the cans of Strongbow yet, as I was going to get them from the corner shop closer to home, to save any excess effort of carrying the cans too far. Plus, it was 6 for a fiver in that shop.
Trailing me by 40 yards, PC Dickson and his younger colleague seemed startled by my early and clearly premature “bolt”. By the time I entered my road, I was almost 60 yards ahead, but could clearly hear their police radios crackling. The distance covered had begun to take its toll, as we'd all slowed to a jog, but unfortunately I was approaching empty and started cursing my 20-a-day habit. A snap decision to hide behind one of the large oak trees while still obscured from the officers by a house on the corner, I lent against a tree, smiling, asadrenaline raced through my system. Not to mention the beer, which just replaced the seriousness of the situation with excitement.
As they couldn't see me, their footsteps slowed to a walk, and I caught Dickson talking and then the crackle of his radio. And that’s when it happened.
Leaping from behind the tree and screaming like a crazed lunatic, I was shocked to see the younger officer was actually within arm's reach. My wailing shocked the hell out of him and sent him into a hasty reverse, his feet floating up towards the sky and his face a picture of fright. Then shock, as his arse thudded against the pavement.
My aggressive scream turned into laughter -- just for a second, but with the speed and gracefulness of a man half his age and a tenth of his weight, PC Dickson made up the 10 feet he was behind, and unloaded the contents of the CS Gas from his larger-than-regulation utility belt.
You can try and explain the pain to people, but it's impossible to do so. Your eyes go first, and then your nose and mouth quickly follow; forcefully pressing your knuckles into your eyes as the pain is relieved for 0.01 of a second, before a second and third wave of intensely-burning pain attacks your entire face. Your salty tears burning your irritated skin, they blend into the intense sweat that quickly develops. I could hear the snot and spit filtering into my mouth as I struggled to breath, with my blurred vision showing only the grassy patch I had fallen next to on the pavement. Every time I tried to wiped my face, I only rubbed more snot, spit and tears over my face, which intensified the burning sensation.
I needed sympathy, but unfortunately the young copper was short on supply: “Not so funny now are we, Jay mate?” “Not so tough now, are we mate?” he repeated, as he got closer to me. I could just make out the blurry shape of his helmet as I pinched my eyes open for a split second, feeling more pain. What was this cop going on about? I tried to answer back, but the cling film-like mask of snot I was now wearing made any comment a splutter of muffled swear words and accusations of harassment completely unintelligible.
“What did you run for, mate?” The younger copper asked, clearly having calmed down after his fall, though he seemed to be enjoying my pain. “You're not my mate,” I snarled back, instantly regretting my weak comeback. He nudged me with his leg, making me lose my balance and fall flat on my face, mixing bits of grass, dirt and crap into the already-thick mixture covering the lower half of my face.
“Sorry, mate” he quipped, as he walked towards the curb.
The sound of a car pulling up next to the grass verge caused me to peer up, and instantly recognise the bright yellow and blue of a police car, followed by laughter. They are laughing at me; they are fucking laughing at me, I cursed, dropping a long line of c-bombs their way. “Oi, watch your language,” one of them retorted, loving every minute of it.
After 25 to 30 minutes, the pain still searing, I could just about form a string of words together, which led the three officers to assume I was ripe for being searched and questioned. Somehow I managed to escape unscathed (well, legally anyway), but was threatened with further action for my language. I knew they'd decide it wasn't worth the paperwork involved, and after a brief talking to, PC Dickson offered me some water and sent me on my way.
Before I was sent packing though, I hazarded my chances and enquired what they had wanted me for in the first place. A right good thing I asked, too -- seems my cousin Steve had broken his curfew as he was currently “on tag” due to one of the problems I referred to earlier, and had to be home by 9pm at his place with his girlfriend, domestic or not!
As I stumbled away, I heard Dickson mock his colleague for falling on his arse, as they bid farewell to the third officer who walked around the squad car and jumped in. As the car-clad copper pulled away and sped past me, he offered a quick wave and smile followed by two honks of the horn.
“Cheeky prick,” I muttered.
Jamie Snoll is a pseudonym for a drug-dealer born and bred in Essex, who has stepped into anonymous copper Matt Delito's shoes for today's column. Check back next Friday for Matt's return.