So there’s this bloke.
I see him most mornings on my way to work. I alight from the train, walk out of the station, and within about 100 yards I see him, running in the opposite direction, presumably for the train. He’s about 35 years old, 5’6”, maybe 5’7”, wears a single-breasted charcoal grey suit, either a schoolboy-blue or light grey shirt, those spongy-souled, mock-hushpuppy shoes which should never be worn with a whistle, and has his iPod plugged into each ear.
He often sports the look of a worried man, and he is always running. Running, not in a jogging lycra-nazi, a fitness fanatic or a health-freak kinda way, but running in a fashion which would be familiar to Jerry Lewis fans everywhere, and of a man who is late for an appointment. I reckon I see him at least three or four times-a-week, depending on which train I catch, and he’s always somewhere between a fast jog and a slow sprint. Some evenings when I’m making the return journey, I see him running in the other direction. Presumably he’s late getting home too.
Each time he passes me I try to catch his eye with a nod, or a polite grin but he’s too immersed in himself and his troubles to take any notice. His eyes are firmly fixed on the pavement about 4 ft in front of him, presumably for fear of falling or tripping. In a flash of flailing elbows and ankles he’s gone, off to catch whatever it is he’s late for. He must humm a bit when he gets to work every morning. I hope they have showers at his office.
Roman Polanski has done his fair bit of running over the years, from the Nazis and from the Law, mainly, but now it seems he’s jogging days may be over. There’s been a lot of hurrumphing over his apprehension by Knacker auf Der Garten in Switzerland over the weekend, and I feel I may have missed a bit of the story somewhere. As I understand it, 30-odd years ago he was in a hot-tub in Jack Nicholson’s house with a 13 yr-old girl during a booze and drugs-fuelled party. Somehow, Roman has sex with the girl, it goes to court and he denies rape. Eventually he admits to consensual sex with a minor and is charged. Before he’s sentenced he does a runner to Europe, where he’s been ever since. Now Pc Trott has slapped the cuffs on him and our diminutive director may have to return to the States to face the music.
“Shame, Shame!” I hear you cry. “The poor man’s been through a lot. Mother killed by the Nazis, father in Aushwitz, girlfriend murdered by Charles Manson– hasn’t he gone through enough??” Well no-one would say that was the stuff of an Enid Blyton book, but he did have sex with a 13 year old, albeit 35 years ago, and doesn’t that merit some sort of punishment? “But wait! He’s a genius. He directed Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown, to name but two. His contribution to the Arts must count for something ?” Nope. Not round here, mate.
Mr Paul Gadd has had his request to go on holiday to France refused by the authorities. Paul is a well-known kiddie-fiddler and the powers-at-be are concerned that once in France, he’ll hop over the border the Spain, where I’m told the age of consent is, coincidentally, 13. When Paul had a pop career and went by the name of Gary Glitter, he gave literally some people enormous pleasure with his glam rock numbers. Several no.1s and a great line in Christmas retro concerts endeared him to many, right up until the time that he was exposed as having a serious interest in child porn. Gadd fled the tabloid press (and presumably hopefully, UK sex laws) to South East Asia. Sadly for him, a few years later a court in Vietnam charged him and convicted him with a number of obscene acts with minors. Should this bloke go free because of I love You Love Me Love or The Leader of Gang? I’m sure that there are many who had his picture on the wall of their bedroom throughout the 70’s, and think of the pleasure he brought to so many of the years. Tough.
You can’t blame him for trying to slip through the net from France to Spain though. It’s not the worst getaway plan I’ve heard of this week. Take the two brothers, Wayne and James Snell, who meticulously planned a bank robbery to such fine detail that all went swimmingly well. Sadly for the Brothers Dimm, they used James own BMW as a getaway car. The number plate? J4 MES. Only 78 passers-by remembered the car with the personalised plate parked outside the bank that day, which quickly led Knacker to the brothers’ flat where they were pinched, sitting beside a pile of readdies. Not quite the perfect crime.
Running, clearly, isn’t as easy as we’d like to think. Take poor old Graeme Smith, captain of the South African cricket team. Last night, his team were engaged in a rather entertaining little match against the Bastard English when, 3/4s of the way though the match, Mr Smith went down in cramp spasms. He does this a lot, his career has been dogged by cramp. He’s a big old lump, and probably not what other sportsmen might deem an athlete. Some might say he doesn’t take very good care of his body, given that a lot of cricket is played in sweltering conditions, inducing players to sweat gallons. Clearly incapacitated by cramps in his legs, Smith asked the England Captain, Andrew Strauss for a “runner”. Under the laws of the game, an opposition captain can grant a batsman a “runner” if that player has injured himself during the match, and so is unable to run between the wickets. It’s the sort of sporting behaviour which cricket in general, and us English in particular, are known for. Strauss refused (he was born in South Africa), Smith fumed, then hobbled up-and-down a bit and lost his wicket. England won, which is much more important than playing fair.
It reminded me of a match a long time ago between Sri Lanka and Australia. The Sri Lankan skipper, Arjuna Ranatunga was fat. Fat and sweaty. A man who wasn’t built for running, especially in hot weather. He was built for eating, however he was still a rather good batsmen. During this particular match, Ranatnga had been batting for a long time, but was tiring visibly, and sweating audibly. So he decided to try a ploy that had worked for him before. He announced to the umpire that he had “sprained something” and requested a runner. The umpire turned to the Australia captain, Ian Healy, to ask if that was ok by him. “No it ain’t! ” exlcaimed the Aussie. “You don’t get a runner for being a fat c*nt”.
The prosecution rests.