Joe Malone, private Investigator, is still looking for the missing Lord Bixby. A principle figure in the Bollox to Brexit movement. Malone has just left young Lady Bixby and her companions at the Reform Club
Ch 21 – Business and bums
There was no London drizzle, for once. The air was chilly, but not uncomfortable. I was not that far from my office from here. I could take the walking Underground system. Safer than walking overground.
I made my way along Pall Mall towards Charing Cross. The sound of the Climate Change Protest Camp, singing their bonged out anthems, was clearly audible on the still air. Sound travelled a long way in the city these days. With the almost total absence of fossil fuelled vehicles. Only the very wealthy, or very crooked could still afford them. The quieter electric vehicles were even more expensive. Though they were no longer so quiet as they had been. What with the introduction of an EU regulation for the mandatory playing of a childish ‘brrrrmmmmm brrrmmmmm’ sound through external speakers. To warn idiot pedestrians who glued to their phone screens and unable to hear through their earbuds, so wouldn’t be warned anyway.
Now it was just the buzz of the AmaZrones. The folk music from the camp. The whir of the cyclists. The Scots sounding garbled grunting from the begging of the homeless.
I saw two women I thought I recognised, as I walked towards them. They looked like Luiza and Alina. Two of the Hookers from the Reform Club. But then one of those rare cars passed by and in the illumination from the headlights I could see these were different women.
That made me feel slightly sad and I realised I was disappointed that it wasn’t them.
I realised that I was craving some company from my own side of the tracks. Having spent the day in #EliteWorld.
Some mid-class hookers would have been good to have a drink with. Nothing more.
I had work to do tonight. This Bixby letter.
A scruffy young bearded man, waiting under one of the few remaining lit street lights called out “Spare some change, mate?”
“I only have cards,” I replied, walking on. If you stopped for every beggar in the city you’d be bankrupt before you reached your home.
“That’s OK, mate,” the thin faced man called back. “I can take Visa!” And he held out a card reader connected to an I-phone. “Twenty, yeah?” He asked. I hate being called ‘mate.’ It really winds me up. Even though it’s just an expression the assumed familiarly of it annoys me. And I was already annoyed by Bixby, Stuart and Mandelson and the rest of the Reform Club Remoaners.
“I only have American Express,” I lied.
“I can take that too,” he replied. “Only a £5 charge, Put you down for forty europounds then, shall I?”
I stopped walking away and went back to the street light. The person there sunk down. So they were sitting now. On a purple sleeping bag. I looked at the sitting figure, starring down at him.
“Forty Europounds?” I asked him. “Isn’t that rather a lot of spare change?”
“It’s about average,” he said. But in the lamplight I saw he was looking a little sheepish. Taking the piss, he was. “Most people give forty five to fifty…Or even more,” he added hopefully.
“I’m Inspector Malone, from The Department.” I lied to him, suddenly all business.
“We’ve had some complaints about people in this location ripping off innocent tourists from our European neighbour countries. The Mayor has been most distressed to hear about it. He asked us at The Department to look into the matter for him, right away. Would you know anything about unlicensed beggars soliciting cash from our friends on the continent?”
His sheepish look went. Replaced by one of nervousness. The Department could do as they pleased. Arrest who they pleased for any reason they pleased. I could see it dawning on his scruffy, bearded, face, but with its good and healthy skin colouring, that he was in trouble.
“i..I only collect..er…donations from people. For charity like,” he explained.
“You pay taxes on these ‘donations’ you receive from the public, do you?”
“I ..er…I ..yeah..I do.” said Shaggy. He had a rope lead by his side. As well as a carrying bag. But no dog. Scooby must have had the night off.
“You want to give me your account numbers so I can confirm that right now, …
Mate?” I asked him. A hint of menace. Just so he understood. I didn’t want him to piss himself. Not just yet, anyway.
“Erm..well..I don’t ..have ..them on me..right now..” he began.
“Sure you do,” I interrupted. “That’s an I-phone XXV in your hand. All your accounts will be stored on there. Making Tax digital. Get them up for me, will you?”
I crouched down in front of him. He didn’t smell of anything but soy milk and a little weed. He was never a real street dweller.
“That’s a good phone,” I said, tapping its screen. “What does that cost, now? A thousand is it? And that rucksack by you there. Louis Vuitton. Very smart. I’d like one of those. If I had a spare wad of illicit cash, I’d get one.”
His fingernails were cleanish too. Only some pavement chalk from where he was sat here. No chips or splits or the yellow and brown ingrained colour or real dirt and decay in the nails.
“Well…It’s not a real Louis Vuitton.” he explained. Then excitedly blurted, “Its a fake!” He beamed at me. Then suddenly dropped the smile and replaced it with fear as he remembered he was talking to The Department.
The Department sprung from the merger of the old Health and Safety and Trading Standards departments to create a super police force.
Crimes were now so numerous, that everyone was a law breaker all the time. Most of those crimes had such trivial sentences attached to them that they weren’t worth the time for anyone to tackle.
Since the Blair era, government had spent its days creating as many illegal activities as it could think of, for anything it disapproved of. The law was no longer about enforcement. But virtue signalling. So a poster for a bikini could be banned with a huge fine for displaying it, in case some tubby lass felt fat shamed.
The government criminalised things that were already covered by other laws anyway.
For instance, acid attacks. There was a specific law against throwing acid onto someone. Although that act of maiming was covered by general assault. Attempted murder. Assault with a weapon. And a load of other offences. But the virtue signallers insisted they look like they were doing something.
All their rushed and ill framed legislation did, was give loopholes for lawyers to exploit.
And even when they got it right, and a new law did pass that might have some effect on crime, they messed it up.
Government spent its days ensuring there was never any prosecution from breaking any of its laws if the person accused, could, in any way, be labelled a victim.
A victim of poverty. Of race. Of culture. Gender. Education. Upbringing. Situation or, just Society!
So the police, didn’t even attempt to police any more.
“You stole £100 worth of Mini Eggs from Mr Singh’s local shop? And you admit as such?
Here. Take this self-completion criminality assessment slip. Fill it in and post it to the court service to receive your caution. You have thirty days to comply. If you don’t, nothing much will happen. Now move along.”
But some crimes still attracted harsh punishment. Prison was still there for the guilty.
Not for muggings and robbing. Or car theft. Breaking and entering. Nothing like that. Murder was as likely to get community service as prison time. Depending on who was murdered. And what your status was.
A Remainer killing an OAP leaver, in a hit and run. Probably, community service.
The other way around, and it could be six years in jail.
The Department though, they tackled the worst of crimes. That was the job. Dealing with the real lowlife. So the penalties were higher as the crimes were more severe.
For instance, people trafficking.
Now that was not The Department’s remit. That was Borders. So we didn’t chase down Albanian slave traders. Nothing like that.
But, as a by product of their slaving, we would be called in for all the supplemental crimes. And those often had a much greater chance of prosecution and a higher penalty than the slave trafficking charges.
For instances, force someone to work in a nail bar without pay. That’s a six month community order.
But then The Department gets involved.
“What’s this? Forced to work in a nail bar, without suitable gloves provided? That’s six months, right there. And using a table that wasn’t the regulation number of centimetres from the floor. Without an adequate chair with arm supports? And what was this lighting used? A low watt lamp?” Someone is now in serious trouble.
“Let’s take a look at PAT test certificate, slaver-boy. You don’t have one? Are you saying the electrics in this place have not been checked in the last three months, as required under the Kendall amendment of the Bercow precedent, sec 5c/A2, Portable Appliance Testing? You, my cabbage smelling, Albanian friend, are going down.”
“Are you telling me..that you are in possession of .. counterfeit goods?” I asked the pan handler, who was still sat at my feet on the pavement, in this suddenly chill night air. I reached out and took the bag from the street bum. Held it up, just under his nose.
“Well..Not ..exactly..It..er…it.. belongs to a ..a friend of mine..”
If it wasn’t so late, and if I didn’t have to work to do, I might have shaken him down just for the fun of it.
Though I would actually have to be in The Department to legally do that these days.
And I no longer was. So instead I said to him,
“Take your designer bag and your phone and your card reader and your skinny arse, and piss off. And don’t let me see you here again, you understand?”
He said nothing intelligible. Just random gulps as he hurriedly gathered his stuff and made a fast exit from the circle of lamp light, into the peripheral darkness.
I walked on, collecting thoughts again. Pleased to have been able to rid myself of some of the anger I had been holding in.
A good time to think, the early hours.
A good time to think about the reasons why I was being lied to about Bixby’s disappearance.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file