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This is a question Blood

Like a scene from The Exorcist, I once spewed a stomach-full of blood all over a charming nurse as I came round after a major dental operation. Tell us your tales of red, red horror.

(, Thu 7 Aug 2008, 14:39)
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I'll talk! I'll talk! Please don't hit me...
This is very long and like many such things will read somewhat like bullshit. I can assure you, gentle reader, that the tale is true in it’s entirety (to my shame) and that the payoff is hopefully worth the lengthy read.

The first shameful fact to report was that at the time this story dates from, I was a ticket inspector on London Underground (Boo! Hiss! &c, &c).

A sad state of affairs I’ll agree, but one that derives from having studied an arts degree during a recession in the late 1980s/early 90s. (During said recession, finding that there were no particular employment opportunities for experts on the ‘Survival of Byzantine political and social infrastructure models in the Eastern Mediterranean lands following the Arab Conquests, through to the Crusader Era’ ™, I became a Tube Monkey. Current students take note, especially the business studies ones, you’re so fucked in the present economic climate). Anyway, I digress…

So by the mid 1990s, after several jobs I found myself a Ticket Inspector for London Underground (except we had the exciting title of ‘Revenue Control Inspector’ (RCI)). This generally meant patrolling bits of the Underground network in uniform, inspecting tickets and getting hit in the face by drunks from time to time. It was comparatively well paid but it failed the Playmobil test of public sector work in that small children will not be clamouring for RCI action figures for Christmas anytime soon.*

Sometimes, we worked plain clothes duties, mostly I now believe as an attempt to make the job seem more exciting (no, really). In plain clothes, amongst other things, we waited at stations for people to double up through the barriers and then nicked them (Curiously, tube ticket inspectors are able to caution and question under PACE (Police And Criminal Evidence act) and have limited and very specific powers of arrest (based on the Regulation of the Railways Act 1889, as amended by the Transport Act 1980, sections 5(3)a-c). What this means is that semi-skilled idiots (such as I was) get to question you under caution and then take you to court. This wasn’t generally considered a perk. I still have my old notebooks: “Why did you not buy a ticket for your journey?” “Because you’re all old crates, fuck off, Hahahahahahahahah”. That’s a genuine Q&A just to show you exactly how boring the job was. I still don’t know what he meant either.

So, with all this in mind, I and my work (but not life) partner, Seamus were on plain clothes duty one day at King’s Cross station ‘looking for trouble’ (tea, bacon sandwiches from Big Dell’s Café** and an easy life).

At one point I spotted a likely lad waiting to double up behind someone and got ready to stop him when he barged through. Back then, King’s Cross was effectively two different stations, this meant that even if you had a single ticket, the gates would always return your ticket on exit in case you were continuing your journey via the other ticket hall and tube line. This meant that it was an awful lot easier to prove and/or get the punter to admit guilt. So when the guy pushed through, I was moving forward, showing my ID and trying to stop him. He shoulder charged me, barging me aside, then quickly swung his carrier bag of junk at Seamus who was swiftly moving in to intercept.

This was a big mistake. Seamus was half Irish and half German. He had the subtle wit of the Germans and the gentle disposition of the Irish (his dad, although an Irish national, for some reason joined the British Army in his youth, then while stationed in Germany married a German girl, hence Seamus’ mixed parentage and demeanour). On being whacked lightly in the face by a carrier bag, Seamus said “That’s assault!” and quickly smacked our assailant to the ground, bursting his nose on impact (see, relevance finally).

We took him back through the barrier, bleeding all the while, to the British Transport Police (BTP) interview and mess room that we were allowed to use to question all such people. It was my turn to ask the questions, so I made my way through the list of standard queries while Mr-by-now-very-subdued-Scrote bled on the table, wiping his bloody hands and face on the roller towel adjacent to the table (it was a very small room). I got to the end of the interview and had to ask him to sign my notebook to endorse that what I had written was a true record of our conversation. Only thing was, he was still bleeding profusely and left bloody fingerprints and drips on my notebook as he signed. At this point I was seriously hoping that the case would never see court as the defence have the right to view your notes if you refer to them in evidence (“So RCI Weasel, can you explain the bloodstains on your notebook under my clients endorsement of his confession?”).

Having dealt with this poor individual, we took him to the barrier and let him out of the station, still bleeding all the while. Immediately after letting him go we stopped another punter jumping the barrier so Seamus and I grabbed him and took him back to the interview room for questioning.

The still very bloodstained interview room that we hadn’t had a chance to clean up after the last guy. He looked at the blood all over the table, the completely bloodstained roller towel, looked at the pair of us and said “I’ll talk, I’ll talk!”

Gets you right there doesn’t it?

* Apologies to Christopher Brookmyre

** Sadly gone with the redevelopment of St Pancras/British Library etc. Trust me, this was the uber Greasy Spoon of which all other Greasy Spoons are mere pale shadows.
(, Thu 7 Aug 2008, 23:39, 7 replies)

(, Fri 8 Aug 2008, 1:51, closed)
Good work mentioning Brookmyre
since he namechecked B3ta a few times in his latest book.

Great story!
(, Fri 8 Aug 2008, 11:23, closed)
Where have you been hiding Mr Weasel?
Double click purely for : "He had the subtle wit of the Germans and the gentle disposition of the Irish"

And the pay-off!
(, Fri 8 Aug 2008, 11:38, closed)
And a clicky for the Brookmyre reference.
(, Fri 8 Aug 2008, 12:11, closed)
Nanny-o-bots stop me looking at b3ta in worktime and I'm spending a lot of my other time riding bikes.

Also, I often seem to get around to looking at the QOTW far too late to respond to the interesting questions. Thanks for asking though!

(Are you going to write any more on your LJ btw?)
(, Sat 9 Aug 2008, 11:18, closed)
Yay for Brookmyre
I am behind on his books though which one mentions B3ta? Just started ...unsinkable rubber dunks :)

Oh and click!
(, Mon 11 Aug 2008, 10:38, closed)
@Grammar Badger
I think there's at least one reference or common b3ta expression in the one you are currently reading.

There is also at least one direct reference to b3ta in his forthcoming book 'A Snowball in Hell'. Ms Weasel had a proof copy a wee while back, it's great.

I'm currently re-reading 'A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil' which might possibly be my favourite (but I've yet to read one by him I have hated).
(, Tue 12 Aug 2008, 1:51, closed)

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