Here we are sitting round in our little circle of chairs. Strictly speaking it’s quite a big circle in the local political club house. At the moment we meet in a different building every month. I mean political club venue, don’t I. Labour, Liberal or Conservative and then the British Legion. Why so many? Lost in the mists of time. Actually we tried to be supportive and magnanimous by giving them all a go; after that none of us had any good reason not to carry on being different every month.
So much for Crime Writers. Well, wannabe Crime Writers. Even worse, wannabe published crime writers. That is except for Jimbo! Ex-editor of the local weekly got published a few years ago. Claimed a success but always ready to give a copy away to the first person who recognised him in his local pub. All the regulars must have a copy by now, even then you can’t sell it on Amazon for more than a penny or two. Well, that’s success for you, I guess.
Theme for tonight is ‘characters that work’: Policemen, or women. Though in this day of enthusiastic scribblers the label is more on ‘people that solve crimes, in or out of public service, maybe as criminals or even odd persons, just by accident’. Well our little group was concentrating on police. The proper police, not Transport or MIlitary, not forensic nor retired.
Of course this boxed us all into a corner!
The conversation, over several pints of beer, glasses of whisky or what have you, starts at eight p.m. and carries on as long as the bar was open and the last scribes who had refused to stop talking, do, and leave. And here we are, the last three, well-oiled machines of writers trying to hold three thoughts in our heads and still talk sensibly whilst not spilling the remains of whisky we were waving about in our cups/glasses. Who knows what sense we were really making but it seemed so at the time.
“They have all been written up. Every sodden writer has written every sodden variation of a detective. Especially these days. We have moved totally away from the ordinary bloke doing a job, goodly or badly but usually getting the answers for the reader.”
“Yep. Book, film, tele. You name it, they’ve all been done.”
“All been done, good and proper!”
“And forensics don’t help. Everything has to be scraped and photo-ed, put into bags and waved around and sent to the lab. To that so and so an or woman in a white coat. Why is it always white?”
“It would be a crime to give you the answer to that, my man. Just holding my tongue.”
“But we have been here all night and got no further. What can we do with a new copper or an old copper, even a middlin’ blessed copper, that’s a bit different to the others?”
“That’s the trouble, they are all different, every bleedin’ one! They are even showin’ their ages by not smoking anymore but having signs of dementia instead!”
“It’s the writers tagging onto a popular theme… wish I was quick enough to spot a runner before everone else..”
“Could we put lots of the odd bits into one copper? Make him deaf and blind but have paranormal tendencies.”
“Or paraplegic. And he could wear one of those new hydraulic body-frames they’ve just invented.”
“Not very PC though. Got to have a PC PC!”
“Anyway, the whole point is to find someone who would actually be working officially in the force. Even the worst copper has to be a bit fit these days with all the running round and car chasing they have to do.”
“A Philosophical policeman”
“Aren’t they all. Been done. We’ve already run the gamut.!”
“How about a rubbish detective?”
“One who writes crime novels!”
“We all do that, except Jimbo. On the force, that is. You would have thought that between us at least one could have come up with a decent copper to write about.”
“How about secret crime-fighters? A force within a force. The three musketeers in blue.”
“Taking on cold cases. Bent copper turning good at the end.
“already been and gone, or as good as.”
“An American in London? A Brit in America.?”
I drained the glass, too muzzy, too weary to even think anymore. Round and round and still getting nowhere. I really couldn’t be bothered with all this. Three policemen sitting round pretending to be writers, trying to find a new angle and failing totally. As good as drunk, as usual at these meetings, and about to be chucked out of the club. The table was a bit higher than I remembered and the tumbler made a heavy clunk as it hit the glass covered surface.
The barman came over and picked up my empty glass and the others. “Time to chuck you out, guys”. He hovered briefly waiting for us to show signs of movement. Which we did, as we always did, albeit slowly. This was almost a regular place as it was close to the station and we never took advantage. Unless we were drunk, or partying.
We stood, we three, “Meeting closed.” Said Tom, “Better be goin’ then.” And started humming a tune as we rolled slowly to the exit, barman studiously behind us.
“Singing detective” muttered Harry into the silent fresh air over the door step.
“Alcoholic detectives,” said Tom shaking his head slowly.
“Poetry loving detective, ” I said having to get my penny’s worth.
We started off towards the taxi rank. Three old blokes shrugging towards their ride home.
“Good night gents!” Shouted the barman as he closed the door on us and then more quietly, “Always the bloody last detectives.”
“Been done!” We all called back in unison.