I have been deliberating over whether to post this latest blog or not, simply because it doesn’t just concern me, it concerns a couple of my family members also.
My partner Jackie and I took our eldest Daughter to Glasgow at the weekend just past so that both she and I could spend our birthday money that we had each received over the previous weekend when we had our usual yearly joint birthday celebrations, well jointly for the last 8 years anyway. Prior to that it was not possible given that she was only born on the 31st July 2007.
So, the day was planned, we were heading on the train into Glasgow centre and the aim was to arrive early, do some shopping, not too much that we were overburden with too many shopping bags before going for lunch, after all there would be plenty of time after lunch to get into the serious shopping! We arrived on the train and walked through Glasgow Central and headed towards St Enoch Centre, en-route here we happened across a big book store on Argyle Street and as Alex is a wee bit of a bookworm she wanted to head in and take a look. A few minutes into the shop and being a clever little cookie and somewhat smart with her pennies, she managed to find the bargain table where she also found a great little treasure that was a Jacqueline Wilson book, apparently one of her favourite story-tellers. It was reduced down to £5 so apparently, it was a “no-brainer” and she triumphantly collect her prize find and clutched on to it with dear life whilst moving round the store for more of a ponder. We then arrived at a large table with an array of board games and jigsaw puzzles. As jigsaw puzzles just happen to be another of her favourite past times she decided to have a meander here. I was alongside her, discussing the various types, sizes, 2D and 3D selections, I just happened to clock a guy stood at the other side of the same table who decided that, unlike my Daughter who was paying for her goods with her much appreciated funds that him paying for his goods was somewhat out of fashion. I saw him place two items into his rucksack that he had previously removed from his back and was holding it in front of his body between the back wall and the front counter as if to form some sort of shield to cover his wrongdoing. In seeing this, I instinctively thought to myself; “not a chance pal, you are not getting away with that”.
At this point I turned on my heals and began to slowly walk towards the front door of the shop knowing that he was only a step or two behind me. He had a choice here, he could either go to my left, head to the counter to pay for the said goods or he could make his way past me on his right and head for the door. Unfortunately for him, although it was evidently in his master plan and somewhat thought out, he opted for the door and I quickly grabbed in a bear hug, thinking to myself that this guy could have a knife in his pocket and there was no way he was getting a chance to grab that in retaliation. I dragged him away from the door and pulled him over to the counter and shouted to the female staff member that this guy had goods in his bag and was heading out the door. She immediately shouted upstairs to “Andy” to “phone the Police Andy, we have a shop lifter and a customer has a hold of him”. Andy was a fairly tall and somewhat well-built guy and I thought, phew, that’s handy and with that I handed him over to both members of staff at which point the female said “not you again, you are already barred from here, why are you back”! I was aware that the commotion had greatly upset Alex who by now was absolutely sobbing having witnessed her Dad in a tussle with a complete stranger and quite possibly feared for my life. On reflection, I recall a similar feeling I had whilst about her age being at the football with my Dad who proceeded to argue and challenge a clearly younger, fitter guy about his “colourful” language with kids around. The guy was less than apologetic and I remember it was a horrible feeling, I was pleading with my Dad to not say anything as all I could think of was that my Dad was going to get battered, probably more frightening knowing that my Dad is registered disabled, walks with sticks and would not be able to defend himself very well if this guy kicked-off. I seriously was frightened. I bet, as I say, on reflection that similar thoughts to these were perhaps going through her mind, why wouldn’t it? That is what a close bond between parent and child gives you.
So, I handed the guy over to Andy and the female staff member, I headed back to Alex, who by now was being comforted by her Mum and as much as she was doing a great job, Alex just was not for calming down. As I was also trying to comfort her, the female staff member asked if we wanted to head upstairs to the cafe to try and make Alex feel any better, whilst asking this by the way, she the assailant by the arm, waiting on the Police arriving who had been phoned by Andy. I asked Alex about heading upstairs and through tears said no, I just want to go. I thanked them for their kind gesture and offered to pay for the book Alex had chosen. “Yes, of course you can but would it be better of you head upstairs rather than pay here so that your Daughter doesn’t have to stay in sight of what is going on? Jackie then headed upstairs to pay and Alex and I sat in a chair by the staircase waiting on her Mum returning.
At this point, Andy appeared again with a pen and piece of paper and as I was writing my details, presumably for the Police in case they required a statement I heard the same female shout” you raise your hand to me and that is assault”. With this I immediately stood up and made my way towards the front of the shop, aware that Alex pleaded with me to but also saw Jackie arrive at the foot of the stairs. I made my way towards the “gentleman” who was now hovering at the back of the shop moving from one side of the central staircase to the other so as to try and make way to his only exit, which I was guarding at the front of the shop. The female staff member said, “It’s OK just let him walk, he is not worth it”. My reply was something along the lines of, “not bloody likely, he’s already ruined my Daughter’s day, he is not making it any worse for anyone else. Just close both sets of doors, he is going nowhere. He and I then proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes playing cat and mouse over a game of wits to see who would give in first, it certainly wasn’t going to be me. As he then lunged towards the front of the shop down the right hand side, I made a grab for him, put his arm up his back and took him down to the floor. He then remained there for the next 5 minutes, giving me enough time to assure Alex that I was fine and for the staff in the shop to make a third call to the Police and upgraded the call from Shoplifting to assault, on the staff by him, not on him by me I hastened to add.
I then decided to left him from the floor, keep his arm up his back and take him towards the rear of the shop to await the Police. Their arrival seemed to have been ages. All in from start to finish is most probably 30 minutes before they arrived. Was that too long? Not sure and not looking to judge but it was phoned in twice for shoplifting before a third call was placed as an assault, he could have had a knife, it may have been a totally different story then I suppose. Whilst at the back of the shop we had a chat and I actually said I thought I recognised him from the telly. His reply was, “yeah you probably do, I have been on a show called chancers, about shoplifters in Glasgow” – figures I suppose!
We made some light chat, mainly about the fact that we hadn’t expected this when we brought 8 year old Daughter to town to spend her birthday money who by now was outside the shop crying uncontrollably. He asked me to apologise to her on his behalf as he never set out to upset her or anyone else. Funny isn’t it? I didn’t think for one minute that this guy might actually have a conscience and was sorry for his deed. I asked him “what would happen to him once the Police arrived” and if he was “on a tag or on bail”? He replied that he was “on neither and would most likely just get a fine”. “Are you likely to get jail”? I asked curiously. “Naw” came the reply, “I have been to jail before but it’s not likely I will go back just for this”. Silly me, thinking we would be seeing one of life’s parasites stopped from creating more heartache and pain, albeit for a short period.
The Police arrived, cuffed him, took a short statement off me, advised that they may be in touch shortly to come and see me to gather a more in depth statement and asked if they could also get a statement from Jackie. I said yes, she is outside with my Daughter who is quite upset over the ordeal. I headed outside whilst the copper spoke to his colleague and a few moments later Stephen as he introduced himself to Jackie and Alex as came to join us. By now Alex was a lot calmer, as was Jackie and this was later confirmed as they both exchanged notes about how “dishy the copper was”!
Anyway, it turns out that Alex was given the book free of charge and also a £10 gift voucher for her trouble in having a sad start to what should have been a great day out for her birthday/our birthday.
We headed off to a few shops, picked up a few items in Claire’s Accessories and a few other girly shops and then headed to Zizzi as I had been given a gift card from friends and had a great meal. Shortly after finishing the wonderful culinary delights, we headed back out for some more shopping before heading home with no further drama.
And you often hear men complaining that shopping with a woman is boring, that was far from it I can assure you!
The staff at the shop and I exchanged a couple of tweets online in the afternoon and they were quite appreciative of the situation and efforts and like I said, there are two types of people I despise; LIARS and THIEVES and this guy unfortunately although apologetic, fell into the latter bracket.