DO NOT PASS GO, GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL
Sceptics have queried my criminal past – they have been asking for the true story and to see my prison tattoo. Well here is it (the true story) – in all its gritty, unadorned detail, in sans serif font.
It all started with split pants. Not mine but those of the school-going brother of the lovely lady I was courting (now the lovely Mrs M) at the time. Previously I had to rescue him when he bit the barber’s finger but this time I was called in to take him on an emergency trip to buy new school pants before school.
Off we roared off in Miss M’s twin-carb blue mini GT (with black stripes) to the shops.
But, and it was a big butt, there was Fat Freddie, the notorious local traffic plod standing in the road, legs astride, just before the shop. I tried to circumvent him but he waved me down.
“You are the bliksem (lightning) in donderse (thunder) trouble”, announced FF. Does you know your licence plate are skew?” “Don’t you mean, askew?”, I queried. “%$#@* askew you, he proclaimed, and what are that hellse groot (hellish big) noise that are coming out your exhaust - are it a gat (hole)???” he politely asked.
Well, it turned out that it were/was a gat/hole in the exhaust (one which I was planning to fix that afternoon) and it was one worthy of a R40 fine, which was almost one-third of my Navy salary at the time (before subtracting haircut and mess fees). And I could just not afford that so decided to plead my case in court.
The chap before me was a real crim and started shaking when sentenced. “Take him away!!”, roared the judge.
Then it was my turn.
Patriotism and impecuniousness were the two pillars of my defence strategy. The former because I was, at the time, doing national service in the navy and the latter because I was, at the time, doing national service in the navy. I explained to the judge how he could sleep safely at night because of my contribution in the signal office but I could not tell about my undercover day-time beach defence work, lying prone on a towel on the sand (in a speedo) spotting Russian aircraft, and doing regular swimming patrols beyond the waves to check for Russian submarines – I would have had to kill him if I revealed that.
“I, therefore, sentence you to ten days in Durban Central Prison” he pronounced in response. “It looks like you need the holiday from all your hard work”, he added, “… and with good behaviour you may be able to get our in five” (days, not pieces).
“Or a reduced fine of R30” he offered.
So I paid up and fled, a free man, but sans haircut and courting money and impressive prison tattoo.