1. Get very ill
2. Undertake a sponsored bike ride
3. Complain about town planning in Caernarfon Town Centre
I have been lucky enough to broadly qualify under the first two categories. I also have very strong views on the Town Centre, though these weren’t extracted by the reporter who called after reading my blog. My story was deemed strong enough to feature, and they sent round a photographer to take my picture. He seemed less enthralled.
“Where do you want me?”
“Not sure – what’s the story?”
“I’ve been ill”
“Erm, I’m writing about it and when I get better I’m going to cycle over the Alps”
“OK – get your bike. What’s wrong with you?”
“I’ve had a couple of blood clots in my lungs”
“Ooh I knew someone who died from that.”
The pose was left to me. I knew what was expected. I’d seen dozens of these images –
*man angry with town planning looking angry and pointing at a map.
*very ill man looking ill
*charity bike riders stood next to bikes
As an experienced newspaper reader, I knew just the pose to strike. My face would convey my story “I’m ill, but determined to succeed on this bike that is supporting my weight because I’m knackered after digging it out from underneath the caravan awning in the shed”. My wife and Mother think that I am glowering.
The photographer’s underwhelmed reaction to my story reminded me of the only time that I was arrested at a football match. I had been watching Cardiff City at Swansea in the company of a couple of girl friends when I was snatched from the crowd a few minutes after Chris Pike scored the Cardiff goal. After being frog marched round the Vetch in front of snarling, spitting Swansea supporters I was transported to the Police Station in the middle of the city centre. The sergeant was waiting to check me in.
“OK what’s this one done?” he asked the arresting officer.
“He was leading the singing Sarge”
“Erm OK. What else?”
“He was jumping up and down Sarge”
The Seargant looked up slowly and raised any eyebrow cynically.
“He began slapping his head with two hands in a rhythmic pattern sir”
“You mean he was doing the ayatollah”
“Yes Sir, I believe he was”
“OK, we’ll do him under Section 4 -inciting a riot”
I was allowed a phone call. they asked me who they should phone on my behalf.
“PC Walter Williams”, I replied.
“Walter? Why do you want us to phone Walter?”
“Because he’s my stepfather”
The Sergeant put his head in his hands.
“Jesus Christ you’ve only gone and nicked Walter’s boy”
I made the phone call.
“Hello Walter, it’s Phil, I’ve been arrested and they’ve brought me to Swansea Police Station. “Oh aye”, he said, “What was the score when you left?”
Then something happened which nobody believes, but I swear that it’s true. As they led me to my cell, they passed a large crowd of Cardiff policeman who knew me pretty well. “You can’t nick him!” they protested. “He’s the lad that does the ayatollah”. They began chanting “He ain’t done nothing!, He ain’t done nothing!” The embarrassed young Swansea copper carried on regardless, and I was eventually released without charge just late enough that I would miss the last public transport back to Cardiff.
If you look closely at the report , you will see that the words “life-threatening” jump out from the page. This was my fault. The reporter was understandably unfamiliar with pulonary embolism, and wanted to know how serious it was. “Well, it’s life-threatening. I could have died, like”, I emphasised, without any evidence this was true. I suppose now is a good time to look it up. ………………………………………………God, I wish I hadn’t done that.