Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Copper of Darkest Ohio


The pure abstract maths emerges from reality through understanding.
Tonight I'm going shooting with my 70 year old ex-copper neighbour. He's a member of the Sywell rifle club, which confusingly enough shoots in Wellingborough in the winter. Mike has some interesting stories, twice he was first on scene for a murder. As a traffic cop he held several people as they died. He remembers telling one young man the truth, that he was going to die, and it seemed to bring him peace. What hard things to have seen.

My only interesting recent copper story is from my visit to The Mosaic Experiment this summer, in darkest Ohio. It was actually October, but when it wasn't raining it was glorious sun. Summer's last hurrah. We were deep in Amish country, un-made up roads and horse and buggies everywhere. The festival itself was in an old strip mine, fields of razor grass cut into the countryside and only used for extravagant parties and boy scout expeditions.

The friends I'd come to see were on the DWP, the Department of Work and Pensions that organised the whole affair. As I'd miscalculated and ended up with a day extra to kill after the event I hung around and helped with the tear down. After packing up one of the trailers we drove a few miles to a storage locker in a nearby town. To bring extra bodies for shifting the gear I followed the trailer in the silver Chevy Camero I'd accidentally rented. On the way back from unloading everything we stopped for gas and jerky and red bull. We must have been quite the sight, a minor horde of hippies descending upon the gas station from a trailer and sports car. After we left the gas station it seems a cop car was following us.

In following the trailer back I rolled through a stop sign and the first I was aware of the cop car was the flashing blue lights in the rear view mirror. I pulled over and sighed, not as heavily as the hippy next to me sighed. I wound down the car window and the copper approached me. The boys from the trailer, including the kilted hero of the DWP Neight Belarpin who was concerned about the welcome his country was giving to his guest. (And it was a kilt, he proved it to me by way of first greeting.) The copper leaned in and he looked scared. This was a routine traffic stop and he looked frightened. I had nothing to fear, more or less, and I know how to handle frightened people. You smile at them and remain really calm, showing them there is nothing to fear in you and you aren't afraid of them. I also have the great advantage, when dealing with Americans, that I can do a personable impression of a posh English accent. Americans love it. I look like a ruffian but I sound posh, which in a semi-formal situation throws most people off. A fact I'm happy to take advantage of at every opportunity, nobody thinks I'm posh at home. I showed the policeman the respect his position meant he was due and he grudgingly became polite and respectful too and visibly more relaxed. Despite taking twenty minutes to run my passport he didn't write me up for the traffic violation and we were on our way again.

What I didn't discover until we caught up with the boys was that when the copper made the approach to my window, just below my line of sight, he had his gun drawn. He was tooled up for a traffic violation! Something had him scared. My guess is that they really don't like hippies down in Amish country.


"If you aspire to anything, aspire to great love. Just because why not? If you thought you could wouldn't you want to?"

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