Sometimes you hear a story and you wonder if all common sense has been lost. Organisations and individuals who stick by the rules even though there is no valid reason for doing so. It takes a certain stupidity to be that pedantic.

Well, I recently heard a story, but decided to check out the facts. I discovered that some people really CAN be that stupid.

This happened to a young man called “Gazza” (He’s not the stupid one in this tale, just so you know.) While driving to Edinburgh Gazza saw what he thought was a group of kids roughhousing. But as he drew closer he realised it was actually a real fight, and a cyclist was being beaten by two men.

Gazza pulled up beside them and tooted his horn. One of the assailants legged it up the road, while the other jumped into his van and took off at speed.

Once the cyclist had been attended to by passing motorists, Gazza headed off to meet some friends, and discovered that he was parked right next to the van that had earlier fled the scene.

Being a resourceful sort of bloke, Gazza searched around and found a pen. The only scrap of paper he could find was a packet of Strepsils. He noted down the registration number of the van on the cardboard lid and drove back to the scene where the police were now in attendance.

He gave them a statement, handed over his “evidence” and headed home.

Two months later – out of the blue – he received a letter from Fettes Police Station, informing him that they had a box that belonged to him. He phoned Fettes to find out what it was, but they were not allowed to reveal what was in the box; he had to go in person and collect it. Which he did.

He took time off work, and travelled all the way into the police station. There, he presented the letter to the desk sergeant, and was duly presented with the mystery box – the old Strepsils wrapper, with two lozenges still in it.

“Do you have a bin?” Gazza asked.


“Good,” he said. “Put that in it, will you?”

Daft, huh? But more to the point, you can actually be charged and arrested for wasting police time. But what can you do when they waste your time? Not very much, I reckon.

Once again, it’s a case of “We don’t need common sense. We have rules.”

It’s enough to drive you mad.

Drew McAdam


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