20 Jan 2011

Make Believe

The Office, Gordon Lane, Glesga

“I’ll have tae call you back, the police wanna word.”
It was a beautiful evening in July but on the west coast conditions were taking a turn for the worse. Barrie was being interrogated in The Office (Gordon Lane) by the boys in blue.

 An hour later he called me back. “You’ll never faaken believed it...” Curiously, every time he says "you’ll never believe it," I almost always do.
 Barrie had responded to cries for help coming from the lane. His fellow drinking compatriot Scott was being attacked by Cyclops, a monocular blade wielding thug. Cyclops threw away the knife at the sight of an oncoming Barrie before making good his escape past two bicycle mounted police responding to the incident.
 The police arrived on the scene to find Scott berating Barrie. Barrie thought the knife had landed on an air-conditioning unit so they made a spectacularly failed attempt to find the evidence. Scott couldn’t lift Barrie- he was recovering from a recent groin operation. The two inebriates were unable to stand tall, let alone scale the dizzying height of the unit- almost 4 metres from the ground. The police charged Barrie with lifting a pole off the air-con unit with the intention of using it as a weapon.
 Barrie was furious “Pole? Wha’ pole? There was nae pole.” In the eyes of the police Barrie was better off the streets and out of sight.

Glasgow Sheriff Court
 August 2010. Glasgow Sheriff Court. At the first trial the evidence, the pole, could not be found. Nevertheless, the judge postponed the trial and served Barrie with a curfew order- off the streets by 7pm. This only served to prevent him from evening visits with his two daughters who were suffering from meningitis.

Toilets at the court- the blue lighting prevents addicts finding a vein
 October 2010. Court Room 16. The second hearing was delayed- as usual. At one o’clock the court went into recess for lunch and Barrie’s lawyer suggested that I wrote a letter of commendation in case he was found guilty. I left Barrie and Scott to their liquid lunch and headed to a nearby cafe. When I returned Barrie was alone. He looked up at me and groaned “You’ll never faaken believe it...”
 The dynamic duo were life-saving while I was busy composing. A widower floated by them, face down, as they were taking refreshments by the banks of the Clyde. Without hesitation Scott dived into the black waters and retrieved the wouldbe suicide victim. The prosecuting witnesses (the police) were watching on as the event unfolded and escorted Scott to the hospital to have him checked out for hypothermia. Back in court Barrie’s lawyer confessed that this was a first in all his years of practice at the bar. The judge had to agree and the trial was adjourned- again.

November 2010. The morning of the big day and Scott downed a bottle of cream sherry, in one, to steady his nerves. Barrie’s lawyer couldn’t call a soused Scott to stand as witness- Barrie was on his own. In Court Room 16 the Procurator Fiscal produced evidence- a metal pole with Barrie's name attached. The police witness couldn’t identify the object as the 'weapon' from the crime scene! The pole, as he recollected from his notes, was wooden not metal. The Procurator Fiscal requested that the trial be adjourned for 45 minutes while they tried to locate the actual evidence! Three quarters of an hour later and- you’ll never faaken believe it! A wooden pole turned up, again with Barrie’s name on it. It was his word against theirs. Was Barrie implying that the police were committing perjury? The judge had no alternative other than to find him guilty of a ‘very serious’ crime.

 January 2010, sentencing day, Room 15, Glasgow Sheriff Court. I arrived in time for Barrie's lawyer to pass my letter of commendation to the judge. The judge peered over his spectacles at the room of assembled guilty and asked ”Is Mr Gavin Evans in court?” Barrie turned to me from the dock and I raised my finger. “Ah, the smartly dressed man at the front!” The heads of the condemned turned my way. “Mmm... Photographer in Residence with the National Theatre of Scotland,” he was impressed. In giving his verdict the judge summed that Barrie was indebted to his referees and, despite the serious nature of the crime, he would commute the sentence from a custodial term to one of 18 months probation.
 Without letters of commendation from 'professionals' could Barrie be serving a sentence in Barlinnie for a crime of fiction? You'd better believe it!