Thursday, May 8, 2008
The Laughing Policeman; with him or at him?
When you’re writing contemporary fiction it’s important to keep things…well, contemporary. Now at first glance this statement doesn’t seem like rocket science (or should that be shuttle science?) but keeping your book fresh ain’t as straight forward as you might think. Things change fast these days; slang, attitudes, society in general I guess and if you’re not careful it’s easy to work up a piece that you think is current and relevant only for it to become passé and clichéd before it hits the editors desk. Take one aspect of UK culture as an example: the good ol’ British bobby. Don’t get me wrong, I think the coppers do a cracking job but I was under the impression (I guess from the days when I was hanging on street corners) that their attitude, towards youth in particular, was still authoritative and one which demands respect. Apparently it isn’t. I was watching the box last night (camera crew following a various policemen going about their business in London) and was amazed at how naff community policing had become. Policemen chatting casually with gangs of under age drinkers on the very same streets they should be keeping safe. Policemen using words like ‘dude’ and ‘chill’ instead of ‘you’re nicked’. Policemen swearing and lighting cigarettes for 15 year old girls. And as the kids realised that these friendly, laughable policemen were more concerned with looking cool than doing their job, you could see the respect drain away. I’m just glad that I didn’t involve the coppers in the story line of Recycling Jimmy….I would have been so wide of the mark.