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« Mijn vader werd 90: Een leven vol stedebouwkunde 19.2.07 [NL] | Main | What Eeyore learnt about London Police and Magistrates 6.2.07 »

A dedicated Detective, a deflated Balloon and an empty Box 6.2.07

So Eeyore went to London, on January 23rd. Detective C., in spite of his Scottish name and his London phonetic twist, turned out to have at least three out of four ancestors from supposedly British-Indian origin. A nice man, a busybody, who took exceptional good care of his witnesses, me and Ion, the head of the Hotel Security, where the theft had occurred. We needed that, for conditions within the Westminster Magistrates Court on Horseferry Road were not exactly hospitable. Searched thoroughly at the entrance, we landed in a crowded waiting room, where lawyers conferred with their, often loudly mouthed, customers. Every fifteen minutes, Detective C. arrived, trying to keep our hopes for a soon liberation from this purgatory alive. Having travelled since five o'clock in the morning, I started to look for a coffee vending machine, a facility that is present in even the most sordid of continental waiting rooms, prisons included. But the only machine I found, was an automat to pay fines into. A Turkish young man, at a small distance from us, started shouting in Turkish to his mother, next to him, a 50 year old female lawyer, who accompanied them, struggled to provide a civilised English translation of what he said, to the representatives of the personnel that had come to restore order.

Ion, my companion, is recognisable from a far distance as a member of the ever growing guild of security guards. Heavily built, broad shoulders, black suit, hair cut short. We do not have much in common. Conversation that could have shortened the time, is hard to keep somewhat flowing.

Intermezzo: I could tell you a similar story about British Justice as I did about the Police. Every year, some ten to fifteen percent of their budget is cut off. And new tasks are adding to the existing ones. The Times of London, on this same 23rd of January, reports a rare public protest from the Judges syndicate against this situation. Response of Home Office Minister Reid: "We are busy to invest into a customisation and digitalisation of the paperwork. That justifies a considerable reduction of personnel." 

Imagine, you are a British judge: Your wig would fly to the ceiling! If I could do something about it, I would immediately designate the English Courts as a 41st Respect Zone, where Ministers are no more allowed to show that they are improperly brought up.

The defense of our culprit has asked the judge for a Spanish translator, who is, of course, late in arriving. The trial is rescheduled for the afternoon. We are dismissed for two hours, with order to stay near the Court. The only way to do so, is going to the Starbucks coffee paradise on Horseferry Road, where we sit among the same public as in the Court's waiting room. Not astonishing: It is the only accessible refuge in the neighbourhood. Only, and that is worth a thought,  their behaviour is much more civilised here.

The Verdict - Click for a full version.
Then, after two hours to the minute, Detective C. calls me on the indispensable mobile phone, meets us at the entrance of the Court house, apologising politely, saying that both of us are no more needed as witnesses and that the Judge probably will dismiss the case, as the accused has only facilitated the actual theft of the case, standing near to that person, on the lookout.

Eeyore (Bourriquet), contributed by Merenwen [click to see the flower!]
Eeyore got another half-empty box. But Detective C.'s charm, even in this dramatic moment of collapse, remains irresistible. I decide to prefer the half-empty box to the wholly empty one, I always expected.

And I begin to understand, why my British correspondent did not understand this deployment of serviceability. Detective C. must be, like my former Surinamian-Indian colleague and longtime buddy Budh Khargi at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior, one of those rare unbeatable, undisturbable go-getters, who, keeping strictly to the rules, with an  - at first sight- naive, autistic perseverance, keep doing their work, mobilising one or more of the almost forgotten and generally despised complementary services, that exist in every bureaucracy, fruits of a whim of a since long forgotten former Director, like the Victim & Witness Care Unit.

I cannot help to fall in love with people like Detective C. They show, that a better world is not impossible. And if some of his rare qualities really stem from Indian culture, let us humbly integrate them.

I returned to Brussels with a flower in my -empty- box.

This is the third and last part of an article that originally was posted on February 5, 2007 in Huib's Urblog at e-urban ThinkTank. Updated on March 20, 2007 for huibslog.

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