Have you ever tried to describe to the Old Bill the person you think (actually KNOW, but there’s a bunch of checks and balances) is a prime suspect? No? I have. Tain’t easy. And bear in mind, get it wrong and you may be condemning some poor innocent mistaken identity to some time in chokey, or a big fine, or loss of livelihood when their driving licence wrongly goes out the window. So be sure. And don’t piss about with trivialities. I’ll explain a bit.
I once was witness to a shoplifting. It wasn’t major league. Couple of 12 bottle cases of beer. Big deal? Well, yeah, ‘cos that affects my shopping bill. And yours. Anyway, quick call to the Bill and suddenly a cop car on scene at the supermarket. Then it gets a bit intense.
I got hauled in for a witness statement. It’s really hard work.
‘Can you describe the man you suspect stole the beers?’
‘Well, I gave the initial description and he’s now waiting to be taken into custody if I got it right. Or wrong.’
‘Describe him, if you can.’
‘He was unusual. Two oblongs and a pyramid.’
‘His head was a rectangle. A flat jaw same width as his head. But two things. Ignore the hair, that could be changed. His ears were really small and laid back very flat against his head. And he had a complexion I can best describe as florid. A man who looks as if he likes a drink, if you get me. May explain the somewhat piggy eyes.’
‘Quite stocky, he couldn’t conceal that. Nice looking jacket, though. Charcoal grey, nicely box cut, bum length. Grey teeshirt or sweatshirt, tucked into his kecks.’
‘And they were, if you can remember?’
‘Well dark grey, maybe black, slim cut. But here’s a thing. He had really really short legs and narrow ankles. Hence the pyramid supporting two rectangles.’
The guy got off with a caution, I’m happy to say. But I did have the copper say to me, ‘That is one of the most accurate descriptions I ever heard. You were spot on. You concentrated on the important bits.’
‘I’ve read a few crime novels. You can change your hair easypeasy, but you need to be dedicated to change your ears.’