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A young man finds that strolling along the streets without an obvious purpose can lead to trouble with the law. One misunderstanding leads to another until eventually he must appear in court for trial……
A Brush with the Law
I have only once been in trouble with the law. The whole process of being arrested and taken to court was a rather unpleasant experience at the time, but it makes a good story now. What makes it rather disturbing was the arbitrary circumstances both of my arrest and my subsequent fate in court.
In happened in February about twelve years ago. I had left school a couple of months before that and was not due to go to university until the following October. I was still living at home at the time.
One morning I was in Richmond, a suburb of London near where I lived. I was looking for a temporary job so that I could save up some money to go travelling. As it was a fine day and I was in no hurry, I was taking my time, looking in shop windows, strolling in the park, and sometimes just stopping and looking around me. It must have been this obvious aimlessness that led to my downfall.
It was about half past eleven when it happened. I was just walking out of the local library, having unsuccessfully sought employment there, when I saw a man walking across the road with the obvious intention of talking to me. I thought he was going to ask me the time. Instead, he said he was a police officer and he was arresting me. At first I thought it was some kind of joke. But then another policeman appeared, this time in uniform, and I was left in no doubt.
'But what for?' I asked.
"Wandering with intent to commit an arrestable offence,' he said.
'What offence?' I asked.
'Theft,' he said.
'Theft of what?' I asked.
'Milk bottles,' he said, and with a perfectly straight face too!
'Oh,' I said.
It turned out there had been a lot of petty thefts in the area, particularly that of stealing milk bottles from doorsteps.
Then I made my big mistake. At the time I was nineteen, had long untidy hair, and regarded myself as part of the sixties' 'youth counterculture. As a result, I want to appear cool and unconcerned with the incident, so I said, 'How long have you been following me?' in the most casual and conversation tone I could manage. I thus appeared to them to be quite familiar with this sort of situation, and it confirmed them in their belief that I was a thoroughly disreputable character.
A few minutes later a police car arrived.
'Get in the back," they said. 'Put your hands on the back of the front seat and don't move them.'
They got in on either side of me. I wasn't funny any more.
At the police station they questioned me for several hours. I continued to try to look worldly and au fait with the situation. When they asked me what I had been doing, I told them I'd been looking for a job. 'Aha,' I could see them thinking, 'unemployed'.
Eventually, I was officially charged and told to report to Richmond Magistrates' Court the following Monday. Then they let me go.
I wanted to conduct my own defence in court, but as soon as my father found out what had happened, he hired a very good solicitor. We went along that Monday armed with all kinds of witnesses, including my English teacher from school as a character witness. But he was never called on to give evidence. My 'trial' didn't get that far. The magistrate dismissed the case after fifteen minutes. I was free. The poor police had never stood a chance. The solicitor even succeeded in getting costs awarded against the police.
And so I do not have a criminal record. But what was most shocking at the time was the things my release from the charge so clearly depended on. I had the 'right' accent, respectable middle-class parents in court, reliable witnesses, and I could obviously afford a very good solicitor. Given the obscure nature of the charge, I feel sure that if I had come from a different background, and had really been unemployed, there is every chance that I would have been found guilty. While asking for costs to be awarded, my solicitor's case quite obviously revolved around the fact that I had a 'brilliant academic record'.
Meanwhile, just outside the courtroom, one of the policemen who had arrested me was gloomily complaining to my mother that another youngster had been turned against the police. 'You could have been a bit more helpful when we arrested you,' he said to me reproachfully.
What did the mean? Presumably that I should have looked outraged and said something like, 'Look here, do you know who you're talking to? I am a highly successful student with a brilliant academic record. How dare you arrest me!' Then they, presumably, would have apologized, perhaps even taken off their caps, and let me on my way.
n. brief fight or encounter 小冲突；小接触
n. course; method, esp. one used in manufacture 过程；制作法
a. based on one's own opinion only, not on reason 任意的；武断的
n. (usu. pl.) conditions, facts, etc. connected with an event or person 情况，环境
a. following, later 随后的，接下去的
n. what will happen or happened to sb. or sth. 命运
a. expected; supposed (to) 预期的；约定的；到期的
a. lasting only for a limited time 暂时的
a. walk at leisure 散步，闲逛
a. easily seen or understood; clear 明显的，显而易见的
n. ruin 垮台；衰落
n. one's regular work or occupation; job 职业；工作
vi. move about without a purpose 闲逛；漫游
vt. do (sth. wrong, bad, or unlawful)干（坏事），犯（错误、罪）
a. deserving to be arrested
offence (AmE offense)
n. crime; the hurting of feelings; something unpleasant 罪行；冒犯；不愉快的事
a face or expression that shows no emotion, humor, or thought 板着的脸
a. small; unimportant 小的；不足道的
n. a step in front of a door
vt. consider in the stated way 把……看作；把认为(as)
n. a culture, esp. of the young who oppose the traditional standards and customs of their society 反主流文化
a. not worried; untroubled; indifferent 无忧虑的；淡漠的
a. careless; informal 漫不经心的，随便的
a. of or commonly used in talking 会话（用）的
vt. make certain; support 证实，肯定；确定
n. something believed; trust 相信；信念；信仰
ad. completely; in every way 完全地，彻底地
a. having or showing a bad character; having a bad name 声名狼籍的
a. experienced in the ways of society 老于世故的
a. (F) familiar 熟悉的；精通的
int. a cry of surprise, satisfaction, etc. 啊哈！
n. civil officer acting as a judge in the lowest courts 地方法官
vt. direct the course of; manage 处理；主持；引导；指挥
defence (AmE defense)
n. the act of defending in court the person who has been charged 辨护
n. (esp. in Britain) lawyer who advises clients on legal matters and speaks on their behalf in lower courts （初级）律师
n. a person who gives evidence in a court of law; sth. serving as evidence or proof 证人；证据
n. the act or fact of examining and deciding a civil or criminal case by a law court 审判
vt. (of a judge) stop (a court case) 驳回，对……不予受理
n. (pl.) the cost of having a matter settled in a law court. esp. that paid to the winning party by the losing party 诉讼费
vt. give by a decision in court of law; give or grant by an official decision 判给；授予
n. way of speaking typical of the natives or residents of a region, or of any other group 口音；腔调
a. deserving respect 值得尊敬的
a. that may be relied or depended upon 可靠的，可信赖的
prep. taking into account; if allowed or provided with 考虑到；假定
a. not clearly seen or understood 模糊的；晦涩的
a. having broken a law; showing or feeling that one has done wrong 有罪的；内疚的
v. (cause to) go round in a circle （使）旋转
a. causing great admiration or satisfaction; splendid 辉煌的；卓越的
n. a room where a law court is held 审判室
ad. during the same period of time 同时
ad. depressedly, dejectedly 忧郁地；沮丧地
vi. speak in an unhappy, annoyed, dissatisfied way 抱怨
vt. arouse anger or resentment by injury or insult 引起……的气愤
a. having done what one has tried to do; having gained a high position in life, one's job. etc. 成功的；有成就的
vi. say one is sorry 道歉，谢罪
PHRASES & EXPRESSIONS
take sb. to court
start an action in law against sb. 对某人提出诉讼
a couple of
(informal) a small number of, a few, usually two 少数，几（个）； 一对
keep for future use; put money away in the form of savings 储蓄
take one's time
do sth. in a leisurely manner; not hurry 慢慢来，不着急
at the beginning 起先
prove to be 结果；证明是
ask (sb.) to do sth. esp. formally 要求
stand a chance
have an opportunity; be likely to do or get sth. 有机会，有希望
have as a center or main subject
(cause to) oppose, be hostile to
Richmond Magistrates' Court