Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Court, Can I Get A Witness

The papers here have been getting into a froth over the last few days over a firearms officer from Scotland Yard giving evidence at an enquiry into a shooting and (allegedly) covertly inserting song titles into his statement, rather in the manner of certain football pundits of recent memory. "Fair enough," I thought, outraged, upon first hearing about this on a radio news bulletin (in no way pre-judging the case, no siree). "It's one thing to play silly buggers on Match of the Day, where there's little at stake except for John Motson's wig falling off. It's quite another to do it in a court of law during an enquiry into a death. Throw the book at him."

But now I've read the reports rather than hearing just the outline of the case on the wireless. And I have to say, I'd be prepared to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. For one thing, if you read the coverage (e.g. this report from The Independent), he either had an extremely broad musical taste (Donna Summer, The Membranes, XTC, As Tall as Lions (who hell they?-ed), film soundtracks) or this is a huge coincidence. Furthermore, those self-same reports claim that not only was the officer inserting song titles into his evidence, he was inserting snatches of lyrics (Enough is Enough isn't actually the name of the Summer/Streisand collab- it's entitled No More Tears), and words which merely hinted at the titles of songs (the phrase "self-preservation" supposedly standing in for the title of the tune [Get a Bloomin' Move On] which concludes The Italian Job). Oh really? And as for extracting individual words and common phrases from the officer's evidence ("faith", "daylight", "line of fire", point of no return") and inferring that these must be references to songs by George Michael, Coldplay, Journey and Duran Duran respectively- well, puh-leeze.

I'm not saying he definitely didn't do it. The references to popular music are so tenuous and vague that presumably it's only because someone in the Yard couldn't keep stumm that the case has come to light (I simply can't imagine that anyone looked at his evidence and suddenly said "Wait a minute! These are all song titles!"). But really: the connections between what he said and the intent that he is alleged to have had are so threadbare that even the most half-witted defence lawyer could drive a coach and horses through the allegations if there is ever an internal investigation. In other words, whether he did or didn't do it, this is hardly a watertight case.

Don't believe me? Here's the opening paragraph of the lead story in the Independent at time of writing:

A new wave of strike action across the public sector began last night with massive disruption to the London Underground, as 11,000 staff began another 24-hour walkout that will affect millions of commuters. A Bonfire Night strike for firefighters also looms on Friday, as no progress was made during talks with brigade officials yesterday, according to sources close to the discussions. Tensions rose when two demonstrators were injured during the latest round of industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), after they were hit by vehicles trying to break the picket line.

Now lets take a look at the song titles those sneaky sub-editors have smuggled in, eh?

"New Wave": clearly a reference to the song of the same name by Common on his 2002 album Electric Circus. "Strike": obviously the 1984 single by The Enemy Within (Adrian Sherwood & Keith LeBlanc) in support of the miners. "Last Night": The Strokes, natch. "24": Emmy the Great. "Millions": probably a reference to the Tortoise track Millions Now Living Will Never Die. "Yesterday": a little-known tune penned by one P. McCartney. "Fire": The Ohio Players. "Union": The Black Eyed Peas. "Hit": The Sugarcubes.

The defence rests, your honour.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I salute their musical knowledge but it was all a but unimaginative.

It would have been way cooler if he'd said...

"And then the perp opened the window, it made a noise a bit like this, kind of Kladfvgbung Micshk, and after that it all went a bit Donkey Rhubarb your honour"