Some time ago, in 2003 I was arrested;
I was taken into police custody at Faslane Nuclear Base for protesting about the use of nuclear weapons while I was attending a rally with an old friend and seasoned campaigner, who is mostly confined to a wheelchair due to his medical condition.
We were ‘locked on’ together to avoid imminent arrest then got separated as we were taken off for ‘processing’ in different directions.
This is his account of the arrest – in his own words, found in a 2004 edition of the ‘Faslane Focus‘, Faslane Peace Camp’s magazine, earlier this evening as I was clearing out…
Copper: You’re nicked son!
Wheelchair user: O.K.
Copper (whilst trying to push wheelchair): You aren’t helping the situation doing all this protesting…
Wheelchair user: Look, if I needed patronising I’d go and see Esther Rantzen
Copper (becoming irate): Can you please cooperate and try to make it easier for me, it’s the first time I’ve ever nicked someone like you
Wheelchair user: What, a protester?
Wheelchair user: A crusty?
Copper: Er, no…
Wheelchair user: So what do you mean?
Copper: You know, a … erm...
Wheelchair user: What?
Copper (looking increasingly embarrassed): Someone who’s in your position
Wheelchair user: What, a lock-on?
Wheelchair user: Well, spit it out man
Copper: …an invalid
Wheelchair user: There’s nothing invalid about me!
Copper: Well, what do you call your disability?
Wheelchair user: Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base
Copper (sarcastic): You’re a comedian
(He pushes the wheelchair towards an awaiting police van)
Copper: How do we get you in here then mate?
Wheelchair user: Am I under caution?
Copper: Not yet
Wheelchair user: Well then I don’t have to tell you
(The copper sighs despairingly and casts a humiliated eye over the inaccessible van).
Copper (patronisingly): Please, for the love of god, co-operate! Now, how do we lift your wheelchair?
Wheelchair user: With difficulty.
(The copper has now had enough of his prisoner’s lip and proceeds to lift the wheelchair, muttering about his pension not being worth the hassle.)
Once in the van the conversation becomes more surreal…
Copper: How long have you been in a wheelchair?
Wheelchair user: Two hours forty-five minutes officer.
Copper: No, I mean, have you always been in a wheelchair?
Wheelchair user: Well when I was born I didn’t pop out with an Echo 2000* strapped to my arse, much to me Mam’s relief I can tell you…
(The copper glowers at his sniggering colleagues)
Copper: You’re a right smart-arse, aren’t you?
Wheelchair user: Smartarse spastic to you officer, if you don’t mind.
Copper (sulking): You’re not funny, you know.
Wheelchair user: Neither’s Trident.
Copper (changing the subject): Have you ever been arrested before?
Wheelchair user: You ought to know.
(He holds onto the seat in front of him as the van turns a corner and heads into the station car park)
Copper: Right, we’re here mate.
Wheelchair user: What, at the Hotel California?
Wheelchair user (sings): Wel-come… to the Hoteeel Californiaah, suchalurvelypless…
A cluster of curious coppers is beginning to congregate at the police station entrance, keen to see how the new recruit will deal with his most unusual prisoner.
Copper (pushing his prisoner inside): Have you ever been in a police station before?
Wheelchair user: Does Christopher Reeve speak through a tube in his throat?
Copper: You’re sick!
Wheelchair user (patiently): No officer, I’m disabled.
(They arrive at the custody suite to be met by a deskbound and entirely humour-less custody officer).
Custody Officer: Name?
Wheelchair user: “Wheels”
Custody Officer: Real name.
Wheelchair user (on a roll): “The wheeled wonder”
Custody Officer (unamused): Your bloody REAL name. RIGHT NOW.
Wheelchair user: S** Bloody B***
Custody Officer: Right, empty your pockets.
Wheelchair user (innocently): How?
Custody Officer: Put your hands in your pockets and take out what’s in there.
Wheelchair user: No
Custody Officer: Right. Search him.
(He motions to two officers who are obviously daunted by the prospect of searching the prisoner)
Custody Officer (impatient): Go on then, search him!
Daunted cop 1: How?
Custody Officer: Ask him the best way.
Daunted cop 2 (trying the ‘we’re on your side really’ bit) What’s the easiest way to do this S?
Wheelchair user: I don’t bloody know and if I did I wouldn’t tell you, now would I?
Daunted cop 1: Come on now, I’ll hold you up while officer Simms searches your pockets.
(He lifts the prisoner into an upright positition. Cop 2 steps confidently forward… so far, so good…)
Cop 1 (showing the strain): Hurry up, he’s heavy you know!
Cop 2: I’m going as fast as I can.
Five minutes later and cop 1 has progressed from his usual ruddy complexion to a delicate shade of cardiac arrest, as the prisoner’s thin, light frame has mystically transmuted to a weight akin to two large bags of Newcastle’s finest coal…
Cop 2: Nearly finished, just one more pocket.
Cop 1: Thank Christ we don’t have to deal with prisoners like him every day, what a bloody nightmare!
Wheelchair user: What’s up, two big strong stong coppers like you can’t deal with one wheelchair user?
Cop 1 (urgently):Get his bloody chair now!
Cop 2: Why?
Cop 1 (desperately): I’m going to drop him!
Wheelchair user: That’s not very nice, is it? I’ve done nothing but be civil to you and now you’re going to drop me!
Cop 2: Know when to shut up, eh?
Wheelchair user: Well that’s bloody charming – you threaten to drop me and then you tell me to shut up!
(Cop 2 has now managed to manouvre the wheelchair back under the prisoner. Cop 1, having regained his composure takes the prisoner to his cell.)
Cop 1: Anything you need, ring the buzzer.
Wheelchair user: Well can I have a new set of legs and 20 Regal, please?
Cop 1: You’re not getting cigarettes in here – what do you think this is, the Hilton?
Wheelchair user (moving over to the blue crash-mat on the cell floor): Well if it is, I don’t think much of the bloody room-service.
Cop 1 (closing the door and shaking his head): Why me? Why? And to think those bastards told me I’d got the easy job…