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Posts tagged ‘police’

Crimelords in Port Underwood!!!

Yesterday afternoon was sullen. Mist pressed up against the living room windows. Atmospheric.

I was quite content partaking of the atmosphere from the leathery embrace of the sofa. However, Jed hadn’t been walked the previous day and was ricocheting off the furniture much like a sprung pinball. So Husband and I dressed in clothes appropriate for close-up atmosphere and set off up the road.

Barely out the gate, we saw the lights of a police car flashing blue and red through the mist. I heeled Jed as we approached.

And it was an ARREST! Three police cars had SURROUNDED this beat-up old vehicle and IMMOBILISED two CRIMS!!! Both were in HANDCUFFS, and one was FACE-DOWN ON THE VERGE OF THE ROAD!!!

I’d love to say the prone perp was headbutting the ground, spitting at the pigs and screaming expletives, but he was disappointingly subdued. Similarly, it would have been great if the policeman had planted his knee in the small of his back and snarled, “Listen up, crimscumbucket, another move out of you and I’ll drill you so full of lead your autopsy will be declared a hazardous waste site. Capiche?” then shot him in the knee and claimed it was self-defence.

I mean, really: I’m sure the police wouldn’t cop so much flak from the public if they just did their job. It’s all we’re asking.

Of course, I was DYING to ask what was going down, but nobody said anything at all, not even, “Move along, move along; nothing to see here.”

The felon on the ground gave me the evils. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to the chilling, cold, flat, dead eyes of a killer or something.

Can you believe it: CRIME LORDS IN PORT UNDERWOOD!!!

Or, you know, skeevy drug dealers. Whatever.

The long way home


2300km later, we are home. We decided to take three days for the return bike trip: Oamaru to Hanmer Springs; then to Wellington via the Interisland Ferry; and the final stretch to Auckland.

Since I am now a seasoned biker, I was pretty confident. Leaning was second nature; I could crack walnuts with my core muscles; and boy, could I wear a set of leathers.

Unfortunately, the day we set out for Hanmer Springs, New Zealand hosted a heat wave. To give you an idea how warm it was, Husband ventured into a river for a dip. (If you noticed an arse flexing beside Highway 7, that was probably mine. I hope you liked it.)

When biking under normal summer conditions, I wear a fleece and quilted insert under my weatherproof jacket. An hour out of Oamaru, I shed the fleece and the jacket insert followed shortly after. By the time we reached Hanmer Springs, I wanted to crawl out of my skin and spend three weeks in a nice, dark fridge. Or alternatively, lie down and moan. Since that appeared to be the simpler option, that is pretty much what I did for the next three hours.

That evening, we stumbled into Hanmer Springs for dinner. Afterwards, we propped each other up and supported ourselves to a patch of green by the side of the road. We lay out on the grass and watched the tree branches turn dark against the waning light, and a bird crapping overhead.

“Something just crawled up my jeans,” I said.

“You don’t sound that worried.”

“No, I am. It’s just that I don’t have the energy to do anything about it.”

The following morning, the fleece and insert went back on. We biked through Springs Junction, stopped for coffee in Minihaha, then on via Wakefield to Nelson. Just beyond Havelock, we turned onto Queen Charlotte Drive, which was where a police car buzzed us.

Husband flipped up his visor. “Honey,” he bawled. “I think that police car just checked us. Were we speeding?”

“What’s this ‘we’?” I roared.

“Ok – was I speeding?”

“Most likely.”

“What limit is this?”

“No idea.”

I don’t see much from the pillion, apart from a close-up of Husband’s helmet-clad head. Also, I was busy picking dead insects out of my lipgloss at the time.

Let’s just say that, in a 60kph zone, chances are Husband was charging along at a clip that would make a policeman choke on his doughnut. He pulled into a driveway to await the long arm of the law, while I dismounted to perform some imaginative stretches.

“Can you see them?” he fretted.


“Quick! Get back on the bike.”

“Shouldn’t you wait a bit longer-”

“No, they had a fair chance.”

There was still no sign of the police as we roared off down the road. They were probably consulting the index of their standard issue first aid manual for ‘Heimlich Manoeuvre’.

We pulled into the ferry terminal at Picton around the time the officer was having emergency surgery to remove the half masticated piece of doughnut from his oesophagus.

The motorbike is a bit like a puppy or a third nipple, in that it attracts a lot of friendly attention. We parked beside another bike to wait for boarding, and an old geezer came over for a chat: ex-services blazer, slacks, slip-on shoes, not a shred of hair and a hole the size of Spain in his cranium.

“Nice motor-cycle,” he said. “What size is it?”

I said, “Er. 800cc? I think.”

“No idea,” he responded. “I turned back because of rain.”

“Um,” I said. “Ok. Yes well, we had a bit of damp outside Whangamoa.”

“Can’t say I do, young lady. Where did you get that notion?”

“I’m not really- what were we- ANDREW!”

“Trout or herring?” said my buddy.


“Wait. I’ll put my hearing aid in. Can’t hear a blessed thing without it.”

Turned out our 82 year old buddy was the pilot of the other motorbike. He had biked halfway to Invercargill that day, before turning back. In other words, he was unbelievably cool. Certainly cooler than us.

“What sort of speed can you get out of her?” he said, nodding at the Honda.

“Well, I’ve done” – Husband cocked an eye at me – “100, maybe 110.”

“Miles per hour?”


“Get 240 out of mine,” he cackled.

That evening, we biked from Wellington to <Unpronounceable Name Possibly Beginning With P>, about 45 minutes up Highway 1. Biking at night was strangely mystical: the swirling darkness, the roar of the wind, the thrum of the engine.

This was our second night in a YHA. I spent much of my youth in youth hostels chatting up Danish backpackers (top tip: ‘Would you like some baked beans?’ has limited efficacy as a chat-up line. I would not recommend it).

On the journey to South Island, we stayed at Sequoia Lodge in Picton, an independent backpacker’s hostel. For $70 we had an ensuite double room, wireless Internet, access to the communal spa pool, free chocolate pudding, tea, coffee and breakfast. So I had high expectations for the YHA, which charged roughly the same sort of price.

In comparison, the YHA hostels were disappointing. I’m pretty sure there were fleas in the Hanmer Springs hostel. The one in <Unpronounceable Name Possibly Beginning With P> was better, but the following morning our helmets were covered in ants enjoying a bonanza buffet of dead bug biltong.

I was tasked with de-bugging the helmets. When I went out to the bike, Husband was talking to a German woman who looked like Sylvester Stallone in a long, red wig. Strangely erotic, in case you were wondering.

Husband was saying, “Aw yeh, you’re all right if they don’t catch you.”

I gather he was talking about the police. Evidently, I should paddle his helmet harder.

At Whakamaru we stopped for lunch. Afterwards, Husband spent five minutes on his hands and knees crawling around the bike. He likes to appreciate it from many angles, so I just assumed he had overlooked this vantage point previously.

Turned out we had picked up a screw in the back tyre. The tyre was largely deflated – as, indeed, were we. Fortuitously the café – in addition to having a delectable range of pies, pastries and other baked goods – was across the road from a garage.

There was a fabulously slutty peroxide girl at the garage, with – intriguingly – a Tiffany pendant nestled in the gently oily valley of her lush bosoms. If my squandered vocation weren’t Rock Goddess, I would so totally regret never becoming a female mechanic.

Unfortunately, her job description did not extend beyond the cash register. An uninspiringly ugly bloke fitted a tubeless tyre bung for $10. These are the most amazing things: basically, a rubber compound is jammed into the puncture, which expands inside the tyre and plugs the hole. People seem to be conflicted about exactly how temporary this measure is, but it took us the remaining 250km to Auckland.

I think the trip is best summed up by this little exchange, which probably took place at one of the countless numbers of roadside cafés and diners we visited en route.

I asked Husband whether he was enjoying his road trip.

“Well,” he said, “Ye-ah-hmm. I think I’ll enjoy it more when it’s finished.”

In a rare moment of understanding, I knew EXACTLY what he meant


Husband and I cycled into Henderson today. At the junction where Candia Road intersects Henderson Valley Road, there was an army of police.

I have a long and varied history with The Fuzz. Ever since they fingered me as a teenager for cycling the wrong way up a one-way street in Limerick with no lights on, they have given me involuntary palpitations.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression; I am not (that much of) a criminal. I’m far too middle class for anything other than white collar crime, which I don’t have the job for; or master jewellery heists, for which I don’t have the guile or cunning.

We were not detained/apprehended/interrogated/cavity searched/force-fed doughnuts on the way into town. I guess there’s a limit to how much damage one can wreak while drunk in charge of a bicycle – not that we were. Also, it was evident there was little to no contraband or dead bodies concealed in my basket – not that there was.

On the way back, one of the policemen held up a hand and said, “Excuse me, madam. Your tyres are bald.”

What I would have said, had I not an ingrained terror of men who fondle truncheons – not to mention equipped with a quicker wit – would have been: “Not as bald as your momma, Porkie.”

What I did say, or more accurately squeak, was: “My tyres are terrifigreat!”.

I would have stopped to demonstrate the tread depth, except that I was pedalling too hard

Still at the airport

“My one true love!” screams Husband, brokenly.

I try to respond, but gag on my tears. Wrenching myself out of the burly policeman’s clichédly vice-like grip, I stumble back into Husband’s waiting arms.

“I can’t live without you!” he whispers.

“Just . . . try your best,” I sob.

*sigh!* The glorious tragedy of it all! I almost regret being granted residency so soon. It was like having two versions of Husband: the real Husband, and an imaginary version tenuously modelled on the Husband template

Contemporary romance

I’m on a roll: NZ Immigration approved my residency visa ‘in principle’. It has been two weeks since Husband and I groveled along to the Henderson branch to submit a rose tinted account of our relationship; more evidence supporting our entirely contemporary frenziedly nibbling romance; and faxed references from friends and family.

Thanks a million to all who summarily supplied letters at such short notice: you rock.

It was particularly stressful writing a description of our relationship that didn’t include the words ‘feckin langered’, ‘champagne goggles’, ‘copped a grope’, ‘tummy burp’ or ‘what can you expect? – he’s a Kiwi’.

Since then, I have obsessed in vibrating 3-D Technicolour about being kicked out of the country (that’s when I wasn’t obsessing about my Little Black Dress contract.) Every time a car came up our road, it was the police arriving to escort me to the airport and see me onto a plane to – who cares? Eritrea – Husband sobbing uncontrollably as I desperately clutch his grasping fingers. The last thing I hear as I am dragged by the heels into the waiting aircraft nursing my broken digits is Husband wailing:

“My darling, wait for me! I swear to you: I WILL FIND YOU! <Get your filthy hands off me Plodfreak; I’m a New Zealand citizen.>”

Thankfully, not many cars come up our road.

Hey! – another idea for my second novel. I tell ya, they’re coming thick and fast these days

I have, we go, come

Over the years, the Yukon attracted a certain amount of interest. In a way, it was like a mobile landmark – after all, you couldn’t miss it. Practically speaking and on the surface, you could interpret as insanity the fact that a car the size of a jumbo jet featured only two doors, but I considered it quirkily eccentric.

I wasn’t the only one, because strangers would knock on my window at 120kph on Sheikh Zayed Road to ask whether it was for sale and for how much and did I have a husband?

I should have known better than to place the car in Gulf News Classifieds for sale at Dhs 32000, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW MUCH I WANTED. If you’ve ever lived in the Middle East, you will understand my error.

For the first week, I fielded many calls, all following the same basic script:

“Salam a’ Linkum. Walla yallah <lots of throat clearing>”

“Hello, Niamh speaking.”


“Hello, can I help you?”

“You have carrr.”

“That’s right.”

“Yukon G-M-C.”


“How many cylinder?”

“Eight cylinders.”

“Very good, very good. How many wheel?”

“Four wheels plus spare.”

“Very good, very good. What is colour?”

“Gun metal grey.”

“Bad colour.”

“No, it’s a good colour.”

“Ah! Good colour, very good.”

“That’s right.”


“Was there anything else?”

“I give you Dhs 10000.”

“No thanks. Bye now!”

“Wait! Wait! How much you want?”

“Dhs 32000.”

“Ok. I give Dhs 15000. Good price for this carrr. Very good.”

“I don’t think so. Seriously, good bye.”

“Wait! I give Dhs 12000-”


Every couple of days, I went out and gave the Yukon a Brazilian Wash (due to the V-shaped swathe of dust extending from the roof down the centre of the windscreen according to my reach). This was for the few people who came to view the car and absently readjust their dishdash before offering Dhs 10000.

Although I wanted to sell the Yukon – knew I had to – I was secretly glad when negotiations failed. It was like Sophie’s Choice: the tragic decision between my car and a wad of cash. (Before you denounce me as shallow, do remember that Sophie and her children were FICTITIOUS CHARACTERS.)

After one close encounter, wherein a caller flirted with the asking price, I put down the phone and burst into tears.

“He- he offered thirty thousand!” I blubbed, throwing my body on Husband.

“Ah-” said poor Husband.

“The Yu-yu-yukon! It was a serious oooffeeer!”

“Well- that’s great! Isn’t it?”

“I suppooose!”

“Niamhie,” said Husband with perplexing patience as I prowled miserably around his lap. “You don’t have to sell the Yukon if you don’t want to. Hey- we can get a 40 foot container and just- bring it with us! I know – we could live in it! We’ll put what we save on rent towards petrol. What d’you think?”

“Boo hoooo!”

Finally, Mosabeh and Mohammed came all the way from Dhaid to see the Yukon, and adhered to the standard procedure for viewing the vehicle, as follows:-

(1) Circle car kicking tyres

(2) Circle car checking stubble growth

(3) Circle car knocking randomly on the body while doubled over

(4) Open bonnet and peer intently at engine

(5) Unscrew radiator cap

(6) Replace

(7) Tweak spark plugs

(8) Check how much pressure can be applied to the running fan belt to draw blood

(9) Test-drive car, preferably off-road

(10) Ignore all potentially major trouble spots in a car this age and obsess at length about some minor and happily fully functional feature

(11) Haggle Jihad

Mohammed checked out the 4-wheel drive function at 100kph and hurled it over some lorry ruts to assess median bounce tolerance, while Mosabeh turned the interior light on and off, on and off: ‘Hey! Light works. Hey! It still works. Hey! What d’you know? . . .’

Back in the carpark, I tried to persuade my legs to stop trembling.

“Very nice car,” pronounced Mohammed.

“Oh!” I said in some surprise. “Yes, it’s in great condition-”

“But,” said Mohammed holding aloft a doleful finger, “there is scrrratch. Here. You see.”

“Well yes, the car is eight years old. Look: here’s another one.”

“It have only six cup holders.”

“The car only seats five!”

“But, what if someone, he have two drinks?”

“Yeah, that would need six holders-”

“Ah! You see! What if TWO person, have two drinks?”

“Hmm, I see the problem.”

“Ok. You will give us good price?”

“Absolutely. Dhs 32000 is a fabulous price for this classic car featuring six cup holders which, let’s face it, is excessive by a factor of about four.”

“I give you Dhs 20000. Final offer.”

“No thanks. Sorry you wasted your time, I hope you find another car-”

“Wait! Final offer. I give you Dhs 21000. Very good price.”

“Mohammed, I’ve been offered Dhs 30000.”

“I give you twenty two. Final offer.”

“Did you miss my saying I’ve been offered thirty? Or do you think you’ll persuade me via the powerful magnetism of your personality?”

“Twenty three. Cash. We go now to police. I have, we go. Come.”

“<putting the Yukon in gear>”

“You will call?”

“It’s looking unlikely, but bear in mind I am occasionally given to exaggeration.”

“Wait! I give you-”

“<Drives away with excessive revving>”

Later that evening, I received the following text message: I offer 25k it is good price for YOUR CAR mosabeh

My response was phenomenally polite under the circumstances. Which is probably why Mosabeh called me two days later offering thirty.


“How much you want?”

“I will take thirty one if you stop arguing with me for the love of margharita.”


We arranged to meet at the Police Station the following evening to conduct the transfer. Dan had just sold his Range Rover and emerged from the experience uncharacteristically bitter. “Make sure the git has thirteen months insurance,” he hissed, “and brings a copy of his passport. And don’t bother going to the Police Station until they tell you they’re already there. And then tell them you’re two minutes away and instead have some lunch.”

Upon Danny’s advice, I sent Mosabeh three text messages instructing him to bring his passport and thirteen months insurance – which made it all the more embarrassing when, after two hours of car tests and paperwork and teaching Mosabeh and his cousin dirty English words, the police refused to complete the transfer due to a HSBC car loan listed on my registration card.

Four days later, after a daring mission (Codename: Operation Muppetation) to extract a clearance letter out of HSBC, I returned to the police station and transferred ownership of the Yukon to Mosabeh.

Despite the increasingly frequent squalls of tears leading up to the event, I was not prepared for the devastation accompanying the sale of the car. I couldn’t understand it. After six years of ownership, I was always pleasantly surprised when the Yukon started which, considering it’s a core functionality, is hardly a selling point. The car featured spongy brakes, soggy suspension and an oil leak on the right hand side.

Yet after handing over my car, I wept all the way home – much to the consternation of the taxi driver, who spent far too much time looking under his seat for a box of tissues considering he was slaloming past speed cameras on Chicago Beach Village Road. At least by the end of the journey my tears were inspired more by terror than loss

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