When I started on foundation at East Ham Tech, I wanted to be a fine artist.
I’d stay up all night doing oil paintings.
As the sun came up my dad would come in from driving a cab.
He’d done The Knowledge after he retired from the police.
One morning he had a big smile on his face.
I asked him what was up.
He said he’d picked a fare up about one in the morning.
The bloke had asked Dad to take him to The Embankment.
When they got there the bloke jumped out and did a runner.
Dad chased him but couldn’t catch him.
Just then a lorry drove by and Dad stopped it.
The driver jumped down and asked what was up.
Dad told him about the bloke doing a runner and the lorry driver said he’d help catch him.
Eventually they found him hiding down an alley.
I said to Dad, what did you do, beat him up?
He said, no.
We took his trousers off and left him there in his underpants.
And Dad had a good laugh.
What I like about that story is the sense of justice.
Dad had to pay rent on the cab every mile he drove.
If the bloke didn’t pay the fare Dad had to pay it.
So effectively he was robbing Dad.
But probably the bloke didn’t have enough money for the fare.
So beating him up wasn’t really called for.
But he’d got to be taught a lesson.
So they improvised.
Teach him something he’ll remember next time he feels like stealing from someone.
That’s what I liked about it: let the punishment fit the crime.
Dad and the lorry driver didn’t want to call the police, they didn’t want the bloke arrested.
They didn’t want to beat him up, they weren’t violent blokes.
But it couldn’t go unpunished.
So they left him on The Embankment with no trousers at one o’clock in the morning.
Getting home in just his underpants at that time in the morning would give him something to think about.
He’d remember that.
Dad and the lorry driver had a good laugh and left it at that.
I liked the natural sense of justice.
It’s what my dad always taught me when he was a policeman.
“The spirit of the law, not the letter of the law”.
In other words, use your loaf.
Don’t just unthinkingly apply whatever it says in the book.
Think of the purpose of what you’re doing.
Think of the best solution, not just the obvious one.
Don’t just knee-jerk into conventional wisdom.
Everyone says “Don’t reinvent the wheel” but that’s exactly what you should do.
“Do reinvent the wheel.”
Think for yourself don’t go on autopilot.
Don’t default to the answer that’s written down and approved.
Like the ones they teach you in all the case-histories.