There were a lot of things I didn’t like about the emergency. I could understand that without the backing of the courts we had to administer our own justice, indeed it was great to escape the burden of paperwork and bureaucracy. But I didn’t like the beatings and kickings, they seemed so random, so unjustified, as if anyone seen on the street was automatically guilty. What were they really guilty of I wondered, hunger and natural human need.
I said nothing though, if I spoke up I would be turned onto the street myself, with no food, no shelter, exposed to both tiger and police alike.
But I questioned the logic sometimes. Like the young woman we followed into the church, what could Sergeant Ingold actually think she’d done, all we’d seen her do was smoke a cigarette in the churchyard, was that a crime now?
We followed her into the church. I was surprised to find that the vicar was there, still in London. He was talking to the woman, he clearly knew her, you could tell by the way they were talking, relaxed, friendly.
Sergeant Ingold approached them. “You’re under arrest,” he said, grabbing the girl, just a tiny, fragile waif I a child I could see now.
The vicar spoke. “What has the girl done?”
“She’s guilty of conspiracy,” the sergeant said, “she’s in league with the tiger.”
So saying he stared to drag her away by her arm.
“No-one’s guilty without a trial,” the vicar said, holding onto her other arm and pulling in the opposite direction, as if she were the rope in a tug of war.
“Bloody human rights,” Ingold swore, “there’s a fucking emergency, there’s a tiger out there, we don’t need to bother with your fair fucking trial any more. She’s guilty because I say she’s guilty.”
The girl had collapsed onto the floor in the struggle and with the words “I’ll give you a fucking trial luvvie,” he proceeded to kick her prostrate body.
So engrossed was he in executing his judgement that he took his eyes off the vicar, didn’t see him pick up the alter candles, lift the heavy metal candlestick up towards heaven and bring it crashing down on the sergeant’s head.”
I watched sergeant Ingold collapse onto the floor in a bloody heap. Even from twenty feet away I could see that he was dead, his brains had started to escape from the confines of his skull, which is a more convincing test of life than checking a pulse.
The vicar looked at me with venom in his eyes. “Well?” he said.
“It’s okay,” I said, retreating to the door, “there’s no crime here, just self defence.”
I reported the Sergeant as missing, it was my one act of rebellion during the whole emergency. He was awarded a posthumous OBE a few months later.
With so many others missing or dead I wasn’t even questioned, my story was accepted as simple fact. The next day I found myself promoted to Sergeant and asked to take over Ingold’s duties. I felt cheered that my good deed, in ignoring the vicar’s assault, had led to me being rewarded.