A short story: Paddy and the Night Court

A short story: Paddy and the Night Court

by Christopher Anderson
article from Wednesday 27, September, 2017

PADDY'S HOME TURF was the High Street in central Edinburgh and he had a great relationship with the locals, including the local police who had to arrest Paddy frequently for being drunk and disorderly. Paddy’s only real relationship was with the drink but he was a good-natured drunk and had drink bought for him by anyone who became engrossed in his entertaining yarns, which became more entertaining the more drink he consumed.

The local policeman who patrolled the High Street had a particular soft spot for him and the routine was that Paddy would get so drunk on a Friday night that he would be arrested for his own good and thrown in a cell to sober up. From there he would await the Burgh Court opening on the Monday morning where he would be given the usual warning about his behaviour and admonished. It was so routine to Paddy that he called this his weekend retreat and said you couldn’t beat the three meals a day and warm room.

One Friday night the local policeman picked Paddy up as usual and took him to the police headquarters, which at that time was on the High Street adjoining the Burgh Court. The Chief Inspector who was in charge this night was an A division officer that knew Paddy well, and had a keen sense of humour.

On booking in a happy Paddy he informed him that this time he intended dealing with him in a more severe manor than on the many previous occasions. Paddy was quite happy about this, thinking that instead of the usual two-night stay it might be extended to three or four, so he quite happily went to his usual cell and got settled.

Being a quiet night after the initial flurry of activity when the pubs closed the police on duty hatched a plan to teach Paddy a lesson. The desk sergeant was a tall distinguished man with grey hair and was well spoken and he also was keen for something to break the monotony that the early hours of the morning brought. On hearing the plan the desk sergeant unlocked the Burgh Court and brought the wigs and robes from the changing rooms so they could dress up to take on the persona of the Judge, Clerk of Court, and the defence and prosecution lawyers.

Paddy was awakened from his cell and taken to the front desk where he was informed that there had been so much crime that night that in order to clear it there was to be a Night Court.  A still inebriated Paddy readily agreed to attend, as it would save the Monday morning being taken up with the usual court appearance – and he was confident his weekend would still be in the cell he had just left.

He entered the court and the four or five police officers were all in the correct places in the court dressed in court attire. The Judge, alias the Chief Inspector, told Paddy in a severe tone that the court had had enough of his weekly court appearances and that as drink-related crime was on the increase in the area he intended taking a hard line with him. Paddy readily agreed to this and said the judge was quite right.

The judge then leant down under his podium and retrieved the cleaner’s black duster, placed there earlier for the prank, and put it on his head. He sentenced Paddy to death and said he was to be taken from the court and hanged for his crimes.

Amid stifled mirth of the police and court officials Paddy sobered up quickly and then collapsed – all were concerned thinking they had killed him. A dose of smelling salts soon brought him round and he was taken back to his cell.

On awakening in the morning he was unsure if it had happened or not, so questioned the day shift about the Night Court. He was informed there was no such thing as a Night Court, thinking Paddy must be worse than usual, still being under the influence, and ignored him.

It would make a great ending to this story to be able to say Paddy never reoffended but this was not the case  – he continued to be arrested every Friday night until his death – but not by hanging!

PC 30B Chris Anderson (pictured) served in the Edinburgh City Police (1954-84) and was a valued member of its Pipe Band that won the Grade 1 World Championships in 1963, 1964, 1971, 1972 and 1975. In his eightieth year (2012-13) he wrote many articles  for ThinkScotland.org based upon his wealth of anecdotes and following his passing in September we are pleased to publish as a tribute a mixture of unpublished stories and old repeats every Wednesday for readers to enjoy.

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