It might have just been a British tradition but there was no real reason why I should hate the police. My parents always tried to instill in me a love for the police including just asking a bobby what time it was. Even so dotted throughout my career on earth there were a number of encounters that were both exciting and terrifying.
Then came the day my brother and I decided on a road trip to Wales. I was just fresh out of the Merchant Navy and he still grappled with the crass idiocy that had lured him into the slavery of the Royal Navy. This Welsh chapter in our lives was a means of bolstering our lack luster existences, after the adventures of foreign climes, a life at sea and daring deeds was fading into fable. Yet in Wales we saw salvation in an expedition to locate Merlin’s tree. Yes, the very tree that Morgan Le Fey was reputed to have imprisoned Merlin within. It was a dangerous Safari that would take us among Welsh Natives and into the heart of Caermarthen.
All went well, Merlin’s tree was easy to find and despite it being just a blackened twisted root guarded by a wrought iron fence in bustling downtown Caermarthen it still held…for us a certain mystique.
Our quest completed, there was no point in hanging around a 1500 year old shrub. We headed off to a castle we had espied in the distance. Having bought a loaf of bread a hunk of cheese and butter, we put backs to the wind and forged a route to Llansteffan castle.
We quickly discovered why Wales had always been difficult to conquer. What in England would only have been an hours walk was three hours out here. It was windy and damp but, happily, we sat atop the hill below the castle and feasted. We talked of future feasts and where we should stage other expeditions. Then, at last, entered the castle. It was a derelict all kinds of reinforcement bars and signs warning us of dread catastrophes should we linger too long or clamber on unsupported battlements.
It was getting dark now. The sun, not used to being in Wales, slipped behind the burgeoning clouds as Geoff and I made our way back to the road. We had no map so had no idea if there was a shortcut. Then it happened, in true Welsh style, the rain came thundering down. We had no choice but to walk back the way we had come. We started hitching a ride gaining a ride, within minutes, from an English couple. I believe them to have been a special breed of Fey that wandered the countryside looking for stranded travellers.
They dropped us off at our B&B hotel…but double Shit! the hotelier had rented out our room. I was furious of course. I always found it easier to get angry rather than find a solution. Anyway, while back out in the rain I had an ingenious idea.
Just across the street was a police station and an idea swanned into view. I dragged a reluctant sibling in through the front door. The sergeant was giving directions to the motorway to a gaggle of people that did not know when to stop talking…English of course. At last they were gone and I approached the police desk. Nervously Geoff approached too, and as the Sergeant said “Are you sure you know what you are doing? the storm coughed up a clap of thunder. The sergeant cleared cleared his throat…or was the thunder from the sergeant? his desk lamp flickered and cast a wicked shadow across his eyes.
“Bloody Druids!” I thought. I so name the sergeant because we English call Welshman Druids, they aren’t but the English still love to call them such.
“So, what can I do for you boys” said the sergeant in the most beautiful sing song voice I had ever heard. Without further ado I launched my plan. I sensed Geoff tensing but I spared him no quarter.
“Sergeant our hotel has booked our room out to someone else and according to her there are no rooms available in town tonight.” I thought better of making a Joseph and Mary joke. “So I wondered if you could put us up in one of your cells for the night. ” he smiled broadly and explained that he could not let us spend the night, it was against all the rules more than his job was worth etc. “The jail is for criminals you see.”
Not defeated I asked,
“Well do you have any laws I could break?” at this the sergeant did burst out laughing. He told us to wait as he picked up the phone and began dialing. To my amazement he was calling motels. Eventually after 5 or 6 calls, he smiled and handed us a slip of paper with the address of a motel written on it. That was the good news but the following bad news was buses and cabs stopped running at 11 pm.
As we sat in the back of the cop car, that same police sergeant drove us to the other side of town. He chatted amiably asking us all about our hometown. Turned out he had also been in the Royal Navy and was so pleased that Geoff was buying himself out.
At the Motel we bade each other farewell as we thanked him profusely. He grinned and his parting comment was “Welcome to Wales.”