12 July, 2012


Getting a bad rep

As I entered the ticket hall at Abbey Wood railway station, the place seemed to be swarming with REOs and BTP officers. Actually there were no more than three of them, along with their "customers", but their presence seemed to fill the place. Passing through the barrier I encountered another BTP copper who was keeping a very firm grip on his "prisoner", a young Black gentleman whom the officer was chiding firmly for his lack of sincerity during earlier interrogation.

So much, so business as usual. In these parts, anyway. But on the platform I was approached by a rather nervous tourist, the head of a family group. "Excuse me, sir, but is this a bad area? All the police...?"

I must say I'd never thought of that. Large numbers of actual policemen and uniformed people readily mistaken for policemen, milling around the place, interviewing "suspects". If you don't know what's going on and you are unfamiliar with the area it must be quite intimidating.

Scabby Wood, as it is known to its enemies, is home to a ginormous camping and caravanning site which, for reasons unknown to me, is hugely popular with parsimonious tourists from the near Continent. I've known the district fairly well for over thirty years and it's always struck me as a nondescript but pleasant enough sort of place, notwithstanding being quite literally "the other side of the railroad tracks" from Thamesmead, a place whose infamy is also not entirely deserved.

First impressions, eh?

Incidentally, while proof-reading the above, I note that Abbey Wood railway station actually has its very own Wikipedia entry. Isn't Wikipedia wonderful and don't you just love the obsessive completists who write it?

Wikipedia - for obsessives about EVERYTHING

I can see, that seeing a group of uniform stasis around MOP on a station might send a shiver up our European visitors. Sadly we have become all to used to it.

Also at first glance they do resemble plod.

In fact I was recently on a train, engrossed in my 'tunes' and kindle.

I felt a tap on my knee and looked up to a vision in hi-vis, stab vest, walkie talkie , peaked cap , shoulder boards with numbers, utility belt etc.

"Sorry Officer [always polite me where plod are concereded] How can I help?"

"Ticket please?"

I did a double take , yep not a crown on the cap but a railway logo.

I just laughed "sorry mate, thought you were a proper copper"

but then I guess that's the idea.

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