REMEMBERING PC PIPE

Those of us who grew up around the Southend area in the 1990s will have had the pleasure of experiencing Drug Miseducation at the hands of Police Constable Pipe (= his real name! French for “blow-job,” incidentally.) I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words in tribute to the gentleman and paid-liar-to-children on the occasion of his death, which may or may not have actually happened but which nonetheless is a death worth celebrating.

I have a couple of memories relating to that constable: the first concerns my own Drug Ed session, when my whole School Year was crammed into not the Main Hall or the Dining Hall where meetings normally occurred but the Library, as though to insinuate that what we were receiving was Serious Learning. At one point in the policeman’s monotone drone he broke off to tell us, excitedly and apropos of nothing, about the time when in some other school while walking down the Main Corridor a passing boy made derisory pig-noises: good Pipe grabbed hold of this sneering student, pushed him back hard against the wall, got his face right in this kid’s face and let him know that what he’d just done constituted an offence so he’d better watch it. At the time I found myself not wondering what this had to do with drugs, nor for that matter what it said about a certain someone’s psychological makeup, all I could think was: “Well fair play to that guy, PC Pipe does look like a pig.”

It was only much later I realised: “Oh, right, pig = policeman, that’s what he meant.”

A while afterwards I was talking about this with students from a nearby all-girls school: over the course of their reminisces it emerged that Pipe had, in lecturing them, come out with some particularly whopping whoppers, he’d “informed” Westcliff High School for Girls that smoking two joints over an evening would most likely see a person rushed to Intensive Care; unless those spliffs contained the dreaded Skunk, in which case a trip to not hospital but the psychiatric-ward could be expected, a trip from which the victim would most likely Never Return. Weirdly enough, although he had lied to my (all-boys) school while wrong-addressing us, none of his falsehoods had been anywhere near so severe; perhaps PC Pipe got off on frightening young females more than he did young males?

Those lies: I remember listening to them, knowing they were lies and wondering should I say something, should I deny this or that ridiculous assertion, should I debate them? But here was a fat uniformed copper and here on both sides were the Headmaster, the Deputy Headmaster, the Head of Year, a whole lot of head and not the good kind either, I knew exactly what to do, same as Peter around the time of the Crucifixion: deny all knowledge, just sit silently listening to this cock crowing. Sometimes during my mystical flights of fancy I wonder if there might truly be celestial orders, the angelic and the demonic, warring with humanity as their battlefield; I wonder if Honour and Integrity and Truthfulness might be to the angels what gold and silver are to us; I wonder if the fact that our unworkable and totalitarian drug-laws turn most users of cannabis and other psychedelics into hypocrites – Deny! All! Knowledge! – might be primary, not incidental, to their creation, their Satanic cause. Which side were you on, PC Pipe?

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