Sunday, May 11, 2008
A funny thing happened on the way through W9.
You all know about my hobby of taking photographs of London. Sometimes it's demo pics, sometimes it's pictures of obscure subjects, sometimes it's just pretty little vistas. Well, today I was out riding round the West End and up to Paddington, Harrow Road, Westbourne Park, and then was circling back home when I was stopped by two charming police officers. Now, this was just as I was standing on top of my bike on a bridge taking pictures of the scenery, trying to get a good view from what I guess is quite a lofty position. The trouble is, when some people see you going round taking pictures of things, alarm bells start ringing. Apparently, someone had called the cops, and their car sailed up next to me just as I was getting a lovely view of... what? Among other things, the bloody railway tracks some distance from Paddington Station. They advised me, while one of them looked through all the pictures on my digital camera, that this is the sort of thing that is liable to get one arrested under anti-terrorism legislation, what with it sort of being near a major transport hub. They further advised me that following arrest, one would usually end up being strip-searched and possibly questioned for quite a long time under what might prove to be testing circumstances. Luckily, I wasn't a student named Salam Abdulrahman, so I was not arrested or put through the indignity of being having my bottom examined up close by someone without the relevant proctological qualifications. In fact, I was treated courteously, and permitted to ride off into the sunset after an awkward fifteen minutes on the tarmac, a background check and a brief body search. However, it is interesting to think that, had there been a minor blip in the racial coding, it could have been a much worse experience. Had they not liked my answers, even, I would be answering more questions at Paddington Green nick. Not for illegal activity - of course, they allowed me to keep the pictures, and you can see pictures of Paddington station and the tracks on Google Images anyway - but because of the way in which New Labour legislation tolerates and encourages the selective criminalisation of legal conduct. So, that was a funny thing to happen.