13th Dec – It’s not clinging to the rocks and ivy, Planted on their columns now that binds me.

Cleaned myself: help is sought
Monkey see, monkey do: monkey ear
Tics: tock goes the clock
Believe in God? Her? It’s all in the head of the beholder
YTLH: I shall never again se mefier les experts

I trudged out across the studio car park into the coming twilight, thinking only of the writ of habeas corpus, and pending prosecutions for criminal damage and perhaps ABH, maybe GBH, one of the BH’s anyway, hanging over me.

I decided to walk to the West End. I had a couple of hours to kill until they said that I should expect to see the payment in my account. It was just as well because I felt more secure off grid, and I had a few jobs to do which are better planned on plein-air where we can think on our own, without having our mind constantly interrupt us with costly digressions.

Underneath the arches, we’d throw our stuff away.

I had incriminating objects to dispose of but I was not going to rush into that and make a mistake I’d later regret – their disposal was to be a forever transaction. Before all that though, I needed to upgrade my wardrobe. I wanted to finish the night in a nice hotel, and until then I needed to avoid suspicion. At that moment I looked like what I was – an impoverished itinerant wearing his best (only) outfit, without a jacket or coat in the freezing cold. So bad did I look in fact, that to have gone straight into a smart shop would have attracted unwanted attention, and so I decided to improve in increments, all the way up to a Dorchester ready rig-out.

It’s harder than you think. I went first to Primark to get a basic, clean, starter-kit, but you cannot put it on until you’re in the changing rooms of the next shop, which was Marks and Spencer, and from there the same, unless you go into a toilet in a pub or something like that which isn’t recommended in the environs of Oxford Street, especially, but not only, because you have to eat a substantial meal in each one. But it gave me an idea; in my M&S outfit, I went to a decent looking restaurant, ordered a substantial meal, then went to the gents’ to change into the next outfit up. I came out, told them that I’d changed my mind about the meal, paid up, and went to Hackett’s, where I bought a suit and some casuals* (father’s phrase, see below), and chose to wear the suit ‘home’.

But it is no matter to be suited and booted if you still look like you’re carrying the rest of your life with you in plastic bags. So, part II, stage I, became operation divest myself of all but essential items. Have you ever considered the process of ridding yourself of evidence? It is not so much difficult, as impossible. Who can honestly say that at any given moment they are not being filmed on CCTV, or already marked out as suspicious by a passing police officer who is now spying on them from a distance? Let alone getting rid of possessions which are impregnated with your DNA? And hardware, like my mallet, and the fur coat? What do you do with stuff like that? Say you buy something with which you destroy them, like petrol and matches, or a saw, all that leaves an audit trail, and then you have the new item to get rid of. Who doesn’t see you drop a mallet from the crown of a bridge? They even have guards looking out for people performing the very act don’t they? And if you drop it from the embankment of a tidal river, what’s to say that it isn’t lying there on the sandbank the next day? As I tramped about all these things and many more came into and out of my brain: a water taxi, but there’d be a record of the transaction, and they’d watch me as I went to the stern to dispose of goods, which would either float off, or in the case of the mallet, may strike a police frogman on the head as he searched for similar evidence from the many other London-based murders; same the deck of a floating bar or museum; take the railway bridge rather than a pedestrian bridge over the river and you’re immediately marked out as odd; find a dustbin lorry doing a late night round after a street market and who doesn’t notice that you’re following it like a hungry seagull? It is a conundrum to confound the keenest of intellects.

I found myself in Hyde Park, where I’d gone to slip a couple of items into a park bin, away from prying eyes – away from what? My mind had taken over again, and I laughed heartily at his pathetic attempt to take back control. Hyde Park is the main stomping ground of the anti-terror squad isn’t it? Half of the people in it at any time work for Special Branch, everyone knows that. Sat on a bench, in a little quietude after all the merriment had died down, I wondered whether perhaps I should take a train to the seaside and throw the lot off the end of a pier? No, I shouldn’t was the answer but the train gave me an idea.

I absolutely adore the new Dickie White collection.

Eventually I came up with a logic-based two/three tier methodology. First was to get rid of the carrier bags which I’d do by taking on an enormous tour of London by foot, and where I came across a charity clothes bin, I’d throw all of the unwanted stuff into that. It took a while, but I eventually found one on the Clapham side of Battersea. I felt bad about putting in the soiled items, but I’d cleaned them best I could and I did add in some brand-new M&S stuff to bring the average value of that lot up a bit.

All gone at almost midnight, turning to face back north, I was finally on to the main job of the evening, and though I crossed the river three more times yet, I still could not find a place where I was confident about dropping the mallet. With time moving on, and the temperature heading below zero, half way over Southwark Bridge I delved into the new rucksack for the fur coat and put it on. And in that in one move, my appearance descended into a poorer state than it had been pre-makeover. Then I headed back towards the West End.

I don’t know whether you’ve been lately, but if you have, you can’t but have noticed that London is still under construction. I’d walked along and around roadworks all night, and had ignored them as a resource. With the mallet held in my right hand, like Napoleon’s tucked inside the coat, I skirted an opened up stretch of a central London thoroughfare and let the mallet tumble from the bottom of the coat. Why so? Well, beyond the obvious attraction of an unseen-through-coat drop, the roadworks are found at random sites, and are less likely than other landmarks to have cameras trained on them; secondly, the hole would probably be filled-in before anyone had seen the mallet; and thirdly, if anyone did find it, they’d keep it and would not let on when challenged over their ownership for fear of confessing to a petty crime. Fourthly, I don’t like to brag, but I aimed it at a puddle and saw it disappear from view.

The full-length fur coat itself was another matter, and that was my greatest problem because it associated me with the Scottish perpetrator of the deed on Big Eggo. Oh God, that’s a point, is Big Eggo dead? Bad for him, but far worse for me. I wore it still, cold to the bones, as I headed onwards to my final destination, unsure still whether a charity clothes’ bank was the option for this item; knowing that a refuse bin was not – that I could easily choose the wrong one. Then, as the superficial, policed allure of the West End gave way to something more real as Kings Cross came onto the chart, the solution presented itself to me. Falling upon a poor little frail thing, shivering in cold and hunger in an office doorway wearing just jeans and a T-shirt, I took off the coat and laid it over him as a blanket, and moved on.

I found a bank, where I drew out as much cash as I was allowed, then bought a ticket and got onboard the next train to Paris.

*casuals, definition –sports jacket, sports shirt, flannels, windcheater-cum-anorak, plus any rubber soled, or non-lace up shoe.

Many thanks to Carl Campbell for the bottom image.