An Email From Lionel

Not so long ago, in a country not so far away, one Lionel Birnie did write to me after the screening evening for The Car. This was back in October and Lionel had stayed on for more beers after we left the bar. I’d phoned Lionel after we left to see if he could see Laura’s lost bag anywhere there. We never heard from him again until an email arrived some time after…

LIONEL: Sadly I didn’t make it back to Soho House to see about Laura’s bag as I got arrested for being drunk and disorderly and spent a few hours at Holborn nick (!)

A bitter-sweet irony, being accosted by a jobsworth copper after watching my film about… a jobsworth copper!

ME: Of course, the question we really want answered is what exactly were you doing when the police picked you up?

LIONEL: Having walked Sandy to the tube station I’d got split up from Simon and Sue, who I’d planned to travel to Euston with.

I had no credit on my pay-as-you-go mobile so I went into a pay phone near Tottenham Court Road tube and stuck 50p in the slot to try to ring Simon. But the 50p got stuck in the slot and wouldn’t budge. It wouldn’t go in, so I could make a call, nor come out.

The next phone box I tried the receiver was smashed, so I crossed the road. The third I tried had no receiver at all. The fourth stole another 50p, as it lodged there, infuriatingly.

By now I realised that it’s the scam by scumbags that they tamper with the slot so your money gets stuck, then they come along with a piece of wire and pull all the cash out.

The final phone I tried stole another 50p – making 1.50 in total – and I lost my rag, hurled the receiver against the window and kicked the phone.

Then a busy little copper and his WPC sidekick nabbed me. From there I talked myself into arrest – I swore, refused to give my name, called him ‘Sonny Jim’ and her ‘My love’, which didn’t help.

The copper said if that phone is broken I’m going to arrest you for being drunk and disorderly. I said: ‘Of course it’s fucking broken. It stole my money you twat.’

I tried to argue that he couldn’t nick me for being D&D on the basis of a broken phone – it was either vandalism or D&D not some pathetic hybrid of the two.

When I called him the ‘smallest-minded man in the whole history of Britain’ he read me my rights. After the last line ‘… do you understand?’ I replied ‘Er, I’m not sure, can you run it by me again?’

In the van, on the way to Holborn cop shop, I tapped on the bars and said: ‘I think I recognise you? Did you two do the legs on the opening credits of The Bill? Yes, I thought it was you.’

I stopped being sarky at the station where the desk sergeant made it pretty clear that he thought the entire thing was a waste of time.

I was locked up for a couple of hours and let go as soon as it was impossible for me to get the last train. All I got was a formal warning and a ‘don’t do it again’ talk.

One thought on “An Email From Lionel

  1. There I was, at Euston station, waiting for a train (and wondering where Lionel was) when I got a call from Holborn Police station.

    PC: Hello, is that Simon Ricketts?
    SR: Yes
    PC: This is PC Pettybloke at Holborn Police Station, we have your friend here, Lionel Birnie.
    SR: Oh? Is he all right?
    PC: Yes, he’s got himself into a bit of bother
    SR: Ah, right.
    PC: You don’t sound surprised
    SR: Er, is he all right? Not been assaulted or anything?
    PC: No, he’s talked himself into a bit of trouble. He’s been a bit silly
    SR: Right (penny drops). Well, can’t you just give him a kick up the arse and send him on his way?
    PC: Believe me, I’d like to, but we’re going to keep him here for a bit. He asked me to ring you and tell you
    SR: Okay, well tell him if he needs anything, when he gets out, to call me.
    PC: Will do. Does this happen a lot?
    SR: No, not at all. Ahem, goodbye then
    PC: Hmm. Goodbye sir.

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