the fair cop



a cop came to see me

but I didn’t know he was a cop

I’m so trusting!!

and I said sit down and have a cup of tea

and he sat down and had a cup of tea


and he was a young man

a nice looking young man

he reminded me of my son

the taller of my sons

very discreet

a good listener


and I said would you like a banana?

I eat bananas like a gorilla

but the cop didn’t want a banana

he asked me if it was all right to use a dictaphone

and I said of course though I don’t really like dictaphones


and he was interested in all my life

and he wanted to get a few things straight

it would help him with his work

and I’m getting old

there’s bits of me beginning to pack up and go

and I like helping the young

it is one of the pleasures of old age

what else is there for the old to do?


so I told him all I could

and I was very free and honest

I like being free and honest

I like those days when it all comes together

and you know your own story

and you know your own place in the world

and what you have done and why


and he didn’t say very much

come to think of it he didn’t say very much at all

but he had a nice smile

and he seemed a good listener

so I talked and I talked instructing the young on my path through life


and only once did his expression change somehow

only once did his eyes sort of flicker

and that was when I was talking about terrorism

and how they all use the word terror now instead

and I told him I noticed when the change first took place


I said I remember it being Ariel Sharon

how he kept saying terror terror terror terror

fighting terror war on terror fighting terror war on terror

all instead of terrorism


and now the word’s over here


and how this reminded me of the way words would change during the seventies

how news bulletins would change a word even in one day reporting Ireland

how the words on something would evolve to a kind of more acceptable slant


and I told him how I used to rant on then

I laughed how I used to rant on then in the seventies and eighties

all this stuff about changing the laws for the Irish situation

how they would bring the diplock courts over here when they felt they could

how they would find another emergency over here when it suited them


I was really relaxed talking to the young man I know the story of this place

I grew up in it I have eyes and ears

I try to find out different views

it’s part of being free and honest that’s what I was so keen to tell him

it’s not part of being a member of anything it’s just part of being alive


but there was something about that mention of terror

something about the way he reacted to me talking about it

looking back it was almost as if he was suddenly on the job

and his face changed just that wee bit, his eyes caught mine just for a second


though it was only a couple of days later

when I was up for the toilet in the middle of the night

I was up for my usual four o’clock pee

and I’d decided to have a cup of tea and a banana

when it suddenly dawned on me

just out the blue


jesus christ that cunt was a cop!

that wasn’t a nice young man looking for the wisdom of the old

that cunt was a cop!

it’s the War on Terror! he was part of the war on terror!

and that’s why his eyes changed when I spoke about that


of course you can never really be sure of these things

you can’t really tell there’s no way of knowing

who can you trust? can you trust anyone ever?



there seems to be so much being spent on this war on terror 

so much about how we need to have more secret police

how much we need more phonetapping 

all the news about threats to the fabric of our society

how the whole world is being taken over



it makes me wonder just because I keep questioning it

I can’t help it it’s just the way I am

I like to be free and honest

I hate language that isn’t free and honest


that’s just the truth of it

I can’t put it any other way


and I keep opening my mouth and saying it

what else is there to do when you’re growing old?

you can’t go to your grave without having said what you think



I suppose they just have to keep files on people like me 

if I was one of them, I imagine I would