My wages didn’t quite cover my outgoings at the time, so part-time work was the order of the day. I liked working behind a bar because it gave me the social contact I craved as a young guy. It earned me money and whilst I did it, I couldn’t spend any either. A triple whammy. The Kings Arms in Berkhamsted, an old medieval coaching inn in the high street had an eclectic clientele and the money was good. The only drawback was the adjoining nightclub which I found strangely magnetic at the end of a weekend shift, not conducive to saving money.
During one of my shifts, some of the regulars got wind of the fact that it was my birthday and bought me a drink. Drinking behind the bar was tolerated providing you followed the rules; only halves allowed and not too many at that. I enjoyed a few halves before I had to decline the rest because I had to drive home. Later in the shift, my brother turned up. He worked at the hospital at the time. He came in with two nurses and a crate of beer. I finished my shift as quickly as possible and we set off towards his flat.
As we drove home, I noticed some dazzling lights in my rear view mirror. After a while, they became really annoying. I tried taking a different route, they followed. I decided, with all the foolishness granted by youth, that putting my foot down was the best thing to do. The headlights still followed. As we came into the outskirts of town where the streetlights illuminated my pursuer, I suddenly realised it was a police car.
I slowed right down and straight away, the car raced around me with lights flashing and pulled me over. I won’t say they manhandled me, but I nearly fell over as they pulled me from the car. They demanded my name, which I gave. Once I did, they seemed to relax. I had a nice car at the time. Too nice for someone my age and one of the reasons I was permanently penniless. As they chased me, they obviously thought the car might be stolen.
They asked if I’d been drinking. I nodded. They produced a box and told me to blow into it. The lights on the box indicated alcohol on my breath so they arrested me.
Down at the station, there was a queue for the calibrated breathalyser machine. The man in front of me was plastered. He could hardly stand up but loudly protested to his arresting officers that he’d only had one pint. As he queued up, he was obviously mentally totting them up in his head.
“I might have had two… Or maybe it was three.” By the time he got to the machine, he’d owned up to drinking five.
In the intervening period, I started to chat to my arresting officers. I joked about not having a great birthday and explained about working at the pub. I think they warmed to me because I overheard one of them speaking to the stony faced desk sergeant and asking if I could be treated leniently. The Sargent waved him away and said that I would be treated according to the result from the machine.
As the desk sergeant booked me in, he asked me my date of birth, which I supplied.
“It’s his birthday” said the arresting officer who’d appealed for clemency on my behalf.
The stony faced desk sergeant looked up at the clock which now showed a couple of minutes past midnight. “Not any more it’s not!”
My breathalyser test revealed that I was well below the legal limit and they let me go. My legs felt like jelly as we walked back to my brother’s flat, but I enjoyed the sympathy from the nurses.
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