An Inspector called. He wanted to talk about what he called ‘alleged inappropriate sexual approaches concerning your good self at the premises known as ‘Shallow Assets’’’. I invited him in and made him some green tea.
“An Inspector?” I said. “I’m honoured. I would have expected a Detective Constable or a Sergeant at best, if anyone at all. Being an Inspector is after all the summit of the achievement of John Rebus, in spite of his having been at the centre of nineteen much garlanded crime novels.”
“Rebus is imaginary,” said the Inspector. “Sir.”
A glint came into the Inspector’s eye that can only be described as Pirandellian.
“Point taken,” he said. “Sir.”
Pleasantries over, he took a notebook from his pocket and a pencil, the end of which he licked.
“The bedroom door opened,” he said.
“Are you putting words into my mouth, Inspector?”
He put his pencil down and sighed.
“In your own. Sir.”
“The first thing that I noticed was that he was dressed as an Edwardian washerwoman. I was expecting that, you see.”
“Don’t you read my blog? Don’t you do any research?”
“The internet connection, Sir, at the Station. Not reliable. We have to use BT, unfortunately: our service provider. Wheels within wheels.”
“Then I knew that he wasn’t who I was expecting, and thirdly I knew I’d seen him on the television.”
“So this figure from the television: he made you touch his male member?”
“One thing at a time. He advanced on me. With one hand he held up his skirting and with the other he grasped…”
“His male member, yes. And was it erect and proud? Was it glistening, with one drop of moisture on what we call the glans penis?”
“It was erect. More I can’t tell you, as it was inside his washerwoman’s calico drawers.”
“But you could see it through the calico? He was touching himself through his calico?”
The Inspector licked his pencil again: excessively, it seemed, as he then wiped it on his trousers, which were not, since he was a detective rather than in the uniformed branch, of serge.
“Then,” I said, “he got entangled in the rug and fell.”
“A Konya, I would guess. Certainly Anatolian. It was not in the best state of repair.”
“Ah. I thought you meant toupée. Sir.”
“He landed painfully…”
“On his nob end, eh, Sir, eh?”
“..which enabled me to get away.”
“And of course he spoke to me.”
The Inspector put his pencil aside again.
“You see my problem. Sir. How can we accord you victim status as regards inappropriate touching, when you are undeniably a member of what we call the Patriarchy? We have a list of minority groups which are pre-approved for victim status, and you don’t appear to be on it. ”
He gestured at the green tea and my small but obviously valuable etching by Odilon Redon.
“I was mentally frail, at the time.”
“There is that…”
I put down my cup, for fear of damaging it.
“That man, that man,” I said, and I gesticulated as I did so, “he ruined my life. He stole from me my late middle age.”
I was briefly in tears.
(I love that sentence. It’s borrowed from the great novelist Anthony Powell [The Military Philosophers, published by Heinemann, 1968, p 158]. The narrator is in liberated France towards the end of the Second World War. Peace is in sight. ‘For some reason it was all too much.’ He is ‘briefly in tears’. That is dignified. That is as it should be: not like our debased age where no encounter, particularly if televised, is complete without a lengthy recital of one’s feelings and recourse to the waterworks.
Just now, of course, I was teasing.)
The Inspector advanced on me, caring in his eyes. Maybe they have an afternoon on ‘counselling training’ at Staff College these days. He laid his hand on my knee. It was a meaty thing, and I speculated about where it had been as he fought his way up through the ranks.
“I so understand. But we have to be careful,” he said, “Sir. Some of the people who come to us, not victim status at all. Slags, most of them. Filth. White trash. Little whores. You should hear the stories the young police officers tell. Forcing themselves on the lads…”
He mouthed the phrase “BJ” silently and primly.
“… as young as ten, some of them.”
The Inspector removed his hand from my knee and mopped his chin with a tissue that he found in his clothing. He put his notebook in his pocket, wiped his still slobbery pencil with a dry bit of the tissue and placed that in another pocket.
“I think we’ve got enough here to have our friend bang to rights.”
“Have you identified him?” I said.
“A great pity that no one came forward in his lifetime: like you, Sir, someone with courage.”
“What do you mean, his lifetime? He’s not dead.”
“Dead these two years, Sir, and more…”
“It’s not Savile, you silly Inspector, it’s not a ghost, it’s one of the other ones, and he’s very much alive, and apparently still preying on the mentally frail.”
The Inspector took out his notepad and pencil again, but seemed at a loss for words.
“What in earth would be the point of building a case against Savile’s ghost?” I said. “Isn’t it a bit late for that? You missed the boat with him, I’d say.”
“It would send a very clear message,” said the Inspector.
“Who to? The undead?”
The inspector looked at me with dignity. Now I had put myself in the wrong. He put his notebook away for the last time.
“You’ll be hearing from us,” he said.
He stood at the door of the room, hesitating. Clearly there was something more.
“I suppose you want a blow job,” I said.
He smiled broadly.
“Well, go and find a Sergeant.”