Britain: Police State?

Mikefule

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The particular difficulty with the abortion debate is that the two opposing sides are not for and against the same thing.

Anti abortion lobby campaigners against abortion. They consider it to be always the worst option. They choose to prioritise the sanctity of the life of the unborn child over all other considerations. Like all "absolute" positions (including the one I'm expressing about absolutist positions) it has inherent inconsistencies the deeper you look into it. Nevertheless, being anti abortion is a valid and honourable position — as long as you campaign for your beliefs in a legal, non violent and non-threatening way.

The opposite side is not pro-abortion. No one thinks that abortion is a good thing. So we have a dispute that could be characterised as Against X -v- Not pro X. There is bound to be misunderstanding when the subject is so emotive, and the two supposedly opposiing positions are not directly opposed.

The "pro" side is "pro choice". They do not argue that abortion is inherently a good thing to be encouraged, but only that it should be an available option, to be balanced against other conflicting priorities, such as the woman's right to choose, or the health consequences for the mother, or the likely quality of life of the child.

Even these three examples I have given are radically different, and someone who agrees with one or even two of them may not agree with the other(s). For example:

The mother's right to choose. Some people might argue that there are other ways that a woman can avoid pregnancy, and that her "lifestyle preference" does not outweigh the "rights" of the unborn child. I do not believe that (m)any women use abortion frivolously as a back up means of contraception. My personal view is that this is one of those cases where the genuine and sincere diversity of moral views should be recognised, and that one group should not be constrained by the opinions of the other group.

Health consequences for the mother might range from fairly mild through to life changing or even potentially lethal. There is a continuum, and my view is that somewhere along this continuum there comes a point where the rights of the living person outweigh the rights of the potential but as yet unborn person. Rights are given by society, not inherent.

The quality of life of the child is a very difficult one. There are countless of examples of people born with tremendous disabilities, or who have suffered disability later in life, who have been happy and productive members of society. The desire to abort a child because it may be unhealthy or unhappy is questionable. It has a slight tinge of eugenics to it, and I suspect that at least in some cases, it is a fig leaf for the parents' preference not to have a disabled child. Thankfully, I've never been in this position, and I do not feel qualified to judge.

Getting back to the subject line of the thread: "Britain: police state?" the fact that all sides feel able to express their opinions and arguments freely in a forum like this on such a controversial and divisive subject is evidence that Britain is not a police state. It is imperfect, but we have tremendous freedoms.
 
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AgProv

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For September 2006 this is actually quite prescient. How did you know?

Dingo 667 said: "Nowadays with the internet, why should there be a gov at all? All we need to do is when a problem arises, a questionnaire will be issued as to what the majority would like to be done about it and hey presto real democracy. "


And look at the way it turned out...
 

AgProv

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Bob61 said: "o.k in the world now to attack white people , attack Christianity & so forth ....... there’s a saying I heard years ago “ satan hates people & they love him , Jesus loves people & they hate him “ "

well... Jesus, or the idea of Jesus, is actually quite a good one if you go by the primary texts (the Gospels). The man who emerges there is somebody who was basically quite OK. The real beef, the real gripe, is with everybody who came afterwatds, beginning with St Paul, who presumed to have divine sanction to interpret Jesus and to project those words through a distorting filter - their interpretations of Jesus became primary to the religion, not Jesus himself. Eventually you end up with televangelists and strident Christian Zionists. so the problem is not Christ but the machine and the layers of theology and control and repression that have built up around him - in most cases Christianity is the problem.

aleistar Crowley said something intelligent about this that he had every respect for Christ but none at all for Christians (I'm paraphrasing here).

relevance to this thread?

When a doctrinaire prescriptive religion gets into bed with a controlling and oppressive politics it gets doubly toxic. Thinking of the way, for instance, the Dutch Reformed Church in the old South Africa was the state religion that used the pulpit to advance religious arguments for why apartheid was God's will and to oppose it was to be commiting heresy (The DRC has changed since 1994, possibly under duress, and is now more racially accepting, it is fair to say). The way a lot of, shall we say, more conservative churches in the USA are absolutely behind Trump and are, in as many words, saying every Sunday he is God's anointed for the USA, and everything he does and says is right because God wishes it to be so. And this sort of thing, in countries where religion holds sway and has serious social power, are not trivial. It does rather close down an argument if your minister of religion is tellnig you that to think in a more politically liberal or questioning way means Satan is working through you and you are imperilling your immortal soul.
 
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Shady

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An entity as powerful as God is suppose to be can surely speak for himself, dont need no stinkin hooman
 

INT21

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God

'Hey Peter'

Yes God ?

'I've decided that the Universe isn't working very well, so I'm giving up on it'

Which Universe God. The one with Earth in it ?

'Yes, that's the one. as from now, no upgrades of patches'.

Shall I press Control C ?

'No, just leave it. They will screw up the whole thing soon without us wasting the energy of a super nova'

I like that, God. You always thinking about the economics.

'Why, Thank you Peter'.

INT21.
 

Mythopoeika

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God

'Hey Peter'

Yes God ?

'I've decided that the Universe isn't working very well, so I'm giving up on it'

Which Universe God. The one with Earth in it ?

'Yes, that's the one. as from now, no upgrades of patches'.

Shall I press Control C ?

'No, just leave it. They will screw up the whole thing soon without us wasting the energy of a super nova'

I like that, God. You always thinking about the economics.

'Why, Thank you Peter'.

INT21.
Control C? Copy?
 

INT21

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Control C used to wipe the whole program with just one keystroke.

Used in Basic. And hidden in early malware.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Just seen the news reports of baton-wielding riot police beating up Catalan independence demonstrators in Barcelona.
An ample demonstration that Spain, with its fascist Francoist legacy still very evident, is far closer to a police state than the UK.
For the UK to be in the same ballpark as Spain, the government would have to round up the SNP and Plaid Cymru leaders and gaol them for sedition.
 

Yithian

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Just seen the news reports of baton-wielding riot police beating up Catalan independence demonstrators in Barcelona.
An ample demonstration that Spain, with its fascist Francoist legacy still very evident, is far closer to a police state than the UK.
For the UK to be in the same ballpark as Spain, the government would have to round up the SNP and Plaid Cymru leaders and gaol them for sedition.
Not comparable.

If the nationalists in the UK held an illegal referendum with no constitutional backing, I'd expect to see them prosecuted for acting ultra vires and misusing public funds.

It's the sentences that are erroneous here. Nobody was killed and no physical or monetary damage was done. They should perhaps have received a fine and a (limited) bar on standing for public office.

Please note: I am not getting into my personal views on nationalist parties/politics, just pointing out a fundamental dissimilitude.
 

Cochise

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The particular difficulty with the abortion debate is that the two opposing sides are not for and against the same thing.

Anti abortion lobby campaigners against abortion. They consider it to be always the worst option. They choose to prioritise the sanctity of the life of the unborn child over all other considerations. Like all "absolute" positions (including the one I'm expressing about absolutist positions) it has inherent inconsistencies the deeper you look into it. Nevertheless, being anti abortion is a valid and honourable position — as long as you campaign for your beliefs in a legal, non violent and non-threatening way.

The opposite side is not pro-abortion. No one thinks that abortion is a good thing. So we have a dispute that could be characterised as Against X -v- Not pro X. There is bound to be misunderstanding when the subject is so emotive, and the two supposedly opposiing positions are not directly opposed.

The "pro" side is "pro choice". They do not argue that abortion is inherently a good thing to be encouraged, but only that it should be an available option, to be balanced against other conflicting priorities, such as the woman's right to choose, or the health consequences for the mother, or the likely quality of life of the child.

Even these three examples I have given are radically different, and someone who agrees with one or even two of them may not agree with the other(s). For example:

The mother's right to choose. Some people might argue that there are other ways that a woman can avoid pregnancy, and that her "lifestyle preference" does not outweigh the "rights" of the unborn child. I do not believe that (m)any women use abortion frivolously as a back up means of contraception. My personal view is that this is one of those cases where the genuine and sincere diversity of moral views should be recognised, and that one group should not be constrained by the opinions of the other group.

Health consequences for the mother might range from fairly mild through to life changing or even potentially lethal. There is a continuum, and my view is that somewhere along this continuum there comes a point where the rights of the living person outweigh the rights of the potential but as yet unborn person. Rights are given by society, not inherent.

The quality of life of the child is a very difficult one. There are countless of examples of people born with tremendous disabilities, or who have suffered disability later in life, who have been happy and productive members of society. The desire to abort a child because it may be unhealthy or unhappy is questionable. It has a slight tinge of eugenics to it, and I suspect that at least in some cases, it is a fig leaf for the parents' preference not to have a disabled child. Thankfully, I've never been in this position, and I do not feel qualified to judge.

Getting back to the subject line of the thread: "Britain: police state?" the fact that all sides feel able to express their opinions and arguments freely in a forum like this on such a controversial and divisive subject is evidence that Britain is not a police state. It is imperfect, but we have tremendous freedoms.

The thing is, even today, giving birth is both a life threatening and potentially life changing risk for the mother. Normal births have a huge potential to damage the mother (even if no abnormality is involved).

If a lady finds herself unintentionally pregnant she should be able to terminate ASAP without any impediment.

I do worry about late terminations.

I do believe any woman should have the right to a Caeserian if she so wishes. The risk of permanent damage is much less.
 
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I have only read the OP for the first time just now, so perhaps this has been covered already in some of the previous 134 pages:

Speaking personally, I never feel comfortable around the police. Not ever. I find them intimidating, despite being just a normal, law-abiding citizen - well, ok, I got stopped for speeding once.

For example, shortly after moving into my house where I live now, there was a knock at the door. Walking down the hallway I could see through the door-glass that there was a policeman on the other side. My stomach sank. My heart rate went up. I opened the door. "What have I done wrong?" I was asking myself. In the event, the policeman was seeking witnesses to a theft in the street. But even so, his appearance at my door sent my anxiety levels soaring. I trust my senses, so this effect that the police have on me tells me that they really are intimidating. In any case, you just have to look at them with their black uniforms and waistbands bristling with who knows what. In other words, they dress to appear intimidating.

The above is my typical reaction upon encountering the police. In addition, I do not like the way the police very publicly invite members of the public to "grass" on each other. People are invited to "grass" on drunk drivers, to "grass" on potential law-breakers at almost any evet I have attended where there is a police presence. People used to take the attitude that grassing was bad. And I know that some will say that grassing on drunk drivers etc may save lives. That's fine and well. But if, as I think, we are pretty much living now in a country like Nazi Germany where everyone lived in fear of being grassed on (e.g. the Hitler Youth), then that is extremely damaging too, to people's health, especially their mental health.

As to living in a country where people enjoy freedom of speech? Oh, p-lease!
 

INT21

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But if, as I think, we are pretty much living now in a country like Nazi Germany where everyone lived in fear of being grassed on (e.g. the Hitler Youth), then that is extremely damaging too, to people's health, especially their mental health.

As to living in a country where people enjoy freedom of speech? Oh, p-lease!
You really think people over here live in fear of the police.?

If people do not report the crimes they see around them, how do you expect the police to catch the criminals ?

Methinks you may be just a tad paranoid.
 
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You really think people over here live in fear of the police.?

If people do not report the crimes they see around them, how do you expect the police to catch the criminals ?

Methinks you may be just a tad paranoid.
It is interesting to see how "grassing", or "cliping" has now become acceptable in society. This was not always so. There used to be more solidarity between ordinary folks. E.g. a nearby bus shelter exhorts passengers to report anyone seen smoking within the shelter. This practice is abhorrent.

Paranoia is a consequence people suffer as a result of being under constant surveillance. In short, constant surveillance damages people's mental health. In fact, that people in our society are so distrustful of each other and that the authorities are similarly distrustful of people is a clear indication that paranoia is rife. And yes, I did used to suffer paranoia. But no more. That is how I recognise paranoia when I see it. If you want examples of paranoia, read Kafka's The Burrow or some of Denis Wheatley's novels on the occult.
 

INT21

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It is interesting to see how "grassing", or "cliping" has now become acceptable in society. This was not always so. There used to be more solidarity between ordinary folks. E.g. a nearby bus shelter exhorts passengers to report anyone seen smoking within the shelter. This practice is abhorrent.

Paranoia is a consequence people suffer as a result of being under constant surveillance. In short, constant surveillance damages people's mental health. In fact, that people in our society are so distrustful of each other and that the authorities are similarly distrustful of people is a clear indication that paranoia is rife. And yes, I did used to suffer paranoia. But no more. That is how I recognise paranoia when I see it. If you want examples of paranoia, read Kafka's The Burrow or some of Denis Wheatley's novels on the occult.
More accurately, paranoiacs 'believe' that some authority is watching them. Even if they may have no real grounds for this fear.

I have a nephew who keeps his mobile phone in the microwave at night as he thinks 'The Man' is listening in to his conversations. He hasn't a shred of evidence for this.

I am interested in why you think it is noble to protect wrong doers from the law.

Very few people would bother reporting someone smoking in a bus shelter, even it it annoyed them.
 

Shady

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I'm ok with the police, like any place anywhere there will be bad uns, but i think the good outweigh them, they are human just like you and I.
 

maximus otter

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a) ...waistbands bristling with who knows what.

b) I do not like the way the police very publicly invite members of the public to "grass" on each other. People are invited to "grass" on drunk drivers, to "grass" on potential law-breakers...
a) Big stick (Georgian era). Handcuffs (Victorian). Documents (Mediaeval). Gloves (Ditto). Torch (Victorian). First aid kit (You’re welcome). (CS/PAVA, so you don’t have to be hit with the big stick). Taser (Possibly. Replaces the revolvers of which, back in the Thirties, stations used to keep a boxful for untrained officers to carry on nights if they wanted).

b) How much less crime do you want to be cleared up? At the moment we’re at a historic low in detection (“solving”) rates, with 92.6% of all crime going undetected.

maximus otter
 

Krepostnoi

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we’re at a historic low in detection (“solving”) rates, with 92.6% of all crime going undetected.
I know it's hardly the most important aspect of the points that you raise, plus I bow to your professional expertise, but the conflation of "detection" with "solving" seems a particularly bizarre mangling of language. Surely an undetected crime is one that you don't even know has been committed?
 

maximus otter

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I know it's hardly the most important aspect of the points that you raise, plus I bow to your professional expertise, but the conflation of "detection" with "solving" seems a particularly bizarre mangling of language. Surely an undetected crime is one that you don't even know has been committed?
I anticipated such a response, hence my bracketed inclusion of "solving" as clarification. The use of "detected" in this context is police terminology.

My dad got his RAF Long Service Good Conduct Medal for - as he put it - "22 years of undetected crime". When I got my police equivalent, I told him it was for the same reason. How we laughed.

;)

maximus otter
 
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b) How much less crime do you want to be cleared up? At the moment we’re at a historic low in detection (“solving”) rates, with 92.6% of all crime going undetected.
I quote from one of my posts on another thread where I gave a description of the film The Ruling Class, the most relevant point underlined:

"In it, Peter O'Toole plays the schizophrenic heir to the Gurney estate. On his father's death, he becomes Earl Gurney. Believing, and acting as if, he is Jesus is the symptom of his condition. Despite being totally harmless, his behaviour causes great embarrassment to his family. They have him treated for schizophrenia and an apparent cure is effected. Earl Gurney now behaves as he should for an aristocrat. Unbeknown to all, however, Gurney's schizophrenia has not been cured. The symptoms i.e. thinking and behaving as if he is Jesus, have only been supressed. Since the schizophrenia must express itself somehow, and since the "Jesus" symptoms have been supressed, the symptoms re-emerge in a darker form. Earl Gurney has become Jack The Ripper."

As I understand it, the symptoms of a sick society are expressed through, for example, the crime rate. Try and suppress that symptom and it has no where else to go except express itself in a more dangerous form. Or, to put it more simply: the more the government, via the police, tries to control people, then the less control they actually have. Trying to control people's behaviour actually has the opposite to the intended effect. It actually makes things worse, not better. So, the more the police try to control things, the worse crime will get. It is a lose-lose situation.

However, my use of the word "sick" above was deliberate. By that I mean that I think those who commit crimes should not be treated as criminals. Instead I think they should be treated as if they are sick and shown a little more humanity i.e. not automatically banged up in prison where all sorts of abuses are perpetrated.

As to high rates of crime going undetected, I would suggest that the police are allowed to spend more time walking the beat as they used to and with a more friendly face i.e. less intimidating. Another example: I was walking with my father down one of the main shopping streets in Glasgow, then a pedestrian zone. There was some pavement repair equipment on the street, obviously left there for the following day's repairs. This included a small vehicle about the size of an ATV. Some lads had switched it on and with no driver the thing was moving around banging into a shop front and was, in addition, an obvious hazard to pedestrians. My father and I spotted a policeman some distance away. The machine was making so much noise that we could not shout to attract his attention. My father gave a piercing whistle which the policeman did hear. And the look on his face when he approached was thunderous. That is the only word for it. With hardly a word to us, he managed to switch off the vehicle, and then he turned away and walked off. he didn't even thank us for being responsible citizens. My sister had an experience with the police where she had found a wallet with some money in it and took it to a police station to hand it in. Again, instead of a "thank you", my sister said that she was treated with great suspicion and made to feel that she had stolen the wallet, rather than being honest and handing it in. She has said that she would never, now, do such a thing again given how unpleasant that experience was. So, the police do need to work on their behaviour and show a more friendly face to ordinary citizens.

In addition to walking the beat, I suggest that the government severely cut-back on the amount of beaurocracy police have to contend with - if it is anything like teaching is and nursing is, then the paperwork is phenomenal. The amount of paperwork police have to contend with must leave them no time to do the really important stuff. (There was a really interesting BBC radio programme on a while back in which a stand-up comic, formerly a policeman (Alfie Moore, I think his name was), used his experiences as a policeman for his act. It was really interesting. One aspect of the job he made much of was that always, always at the back of a policeman's mind is the consequence in terms of paperwork, that actions will have. So paperwork prevents the police from doing their job.)

In addition to paperwork, I do not know the extent of the manpower this sort of work takes up, but the police seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on "cold cases". Perhaps police energies would be better spent on the contemporary, not the historical.

Finally, as to "grassing", I think there is a danger of looking at this from too simplistic a point of view. Living in a society where citizens are invited to grass on each other, where no one can trust anyone else, will lead, I suggest, to severe even worse mental health problems than there currently are. And, of course, mental health is a big issue right now and mental health is going from bad to worse. I suggest that perhaps a little undetected crime will be less damaging to people's minds, will be a smaller price to pay, than living in a state where neighbour informs on neighbour, child informs on parent, siblings inform on siblings, pupils inform on teachers, students inform on lecturers etc, etc.
 

Yithian

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I'm ok with the police, like any place anywhere there will be bad uns, but i think the good outweigh them, they are human just like you and I.
The antidote to fearing or disliking the British police is to experience a range of police forces overseas.

All the forces that I can think of that are 'better' work in communities with much lower levels of crime.

Most of my criticisms of policing in the UK are connected with how they are employed, what their priorities and targets are and how ill-equipped they are for the colossal (and endlessly expanding) task they have to carry out; how they go about what they do is generally close to all that could be hoped given the impediments of the foregoing.
 
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b) How much less crime do you want to be cleared up? At the moment we’re at a historic low in detection (“solving”) rates, with 92.6% of all crime going undetected.
Another point re the low detection rate might be that there is more crime today, this in part due to what must surely be a greater opportunity for crime. I refer here to digital technology. It seems to me that digital technology is a godsend to criminals, and therefore unless police numbers are increased significantly to cope with this, low detection rates may well be inevitable.

However, as I see that you have had connections with the police - were you a serving police officer? - then your input here would be most valuable. Do you think the increasing use of technology has caused increased crime rates?
 
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The antidote to fearing or disliking the British police is to experience a range of police forces overseas.
As a result of my travels, I have had experience of a range of police forces. For example:

In Germany in the 70s myself and my travelling companion were picked up by the (armed) police for hitch-hiking on the autobahn. They seemed to be more amused than serious or irritated. Very conveniently for us, they took us in their police car right to the French border, which was where, they had ascertained, we were heading anyway.

In The Gambia in the 80s I was stopped by the police upon re-entering the capital, Banjul, after a day trip in a hired car. Luckily we had picked up a hitch-hiker, a Gambian, who knew what to do in this event. I cannot remember the precise details but the police returned our passports to us upon receipt of a bribe. Our hitch-hiker told us what amount of money to hand over.

In China in the 80s, the police carried cattle-prods. (I cannot remember if they carried guns as well.) And we were very grateful that the police did carry cattle prods, for it saved us from some of the insanity that is China. For example, when buying train tickets in China one was, quite literally, taking one's life in one's hands. Chinese train station ticket counters had opening times and destinations written beside them, but these were never adhered to. Ticket counters opened and closed with no regard for these timetables. On approaching such an open counter, one joined a relatively orderly queue stretching for some yards. However, as one got nearer the counter itself, all hell broke loose. The Chinese went crazy. They punched and bit and scratched. They crawled over each other and they crawled under each other and they fought each other to get to that window. The scrum at the window was maybe three or four people deep and two high. However, from time to time a policeman would appear carrying one of these cattle prods. I never saw one used, but there seemed no need, for as soon as a policeman arrived, the scrum at the counter melted away and the Chinese returned to forming an orderly queue. I was glad to see those policemen, I can tell you. They literally saved my life. (As an aside, such was the difficulty of buying tickets, that I remember on one occasion being triumphant upon successfully obtaining a train ticket in "only" 7 hours.)

Cold War Bulgaria i.e. the 70s: my travelling companion and I had been dropped off at night by our bus at a roadside verge, this at the turnoff to a camp site. A signpost indicated that the campsite was too far to walk to, especially at that time of night. There was little traffic and being late, it was unlikely there would be another bus. As we sat on the verge pondering our situation and contemplating pitching our tent where we sat, a police car drove up. The rather jovial policeman got out of his car and asked us if we were going to the campsite. Of course we said yes, and so the policeman happily drove us there.

Morocco, again the 80s: this happened near the southern border, as far south as foreigners were then permitted to go, since there was some border trouble. We had pitched a tent in a campsite and had gone to bed. Late that night, maybe around midnight, one of the policemen who patrolled the site came to our tent. He asked to see our passports. We thought that the timing of this request was a bit odd, but as one does not tend to argue with the police in any country, my companion handed over her passport. The policeman beckoned for her to follow him, which she did. Meanwhile I lay in the tent and waited for her return...and waited......and waited...….........and waited...………....... and...……………………... Eventually, wondering what on earth could have happened, I crawled out of my tent and went in the direction I thought she and the policeman had taken. Luckily I had taken the right direction for soon the policeman's tent came into view. And what a sight met my eyes. The policeman, his trousers down round his ankles, was chasing my companion round a table, trying to "have his wicked way" with her. As he chased her he cried, "I luff you, I luff you!" He had even manged to push the table so as to immobilise my companion by pinioning her between it and the wall of the tent. However, as soon as he heard someone approaching he quickly pulled up his trousers and, feigning insouciance, asked to see my passport too. I had it with me as I would never leave it in the tent unattended. Anyway, having decided both our passports were in order, he permitted us to return unmolested to our tent alone.

Ah, yes, those were the days.
 
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