Martin Dino McGarrigle with his memories of a journey in the company of two bungling British cops. Dino McGarrigle is a Strabane raconteur.
I think what separates us is the humour – we always find the humour in a situation. As bad as it got there was always a laugh to be found, no matter how bad your situation. My own wee laugh to myself sometimes is this memory. I was taken from my cell in Strand Road RUC interrogation centre at ten to midnight on a Saturday night in early 1982. The desk sergeant read out the 3 charges. I responded "not guilty" to all of them.
The next day being a Sunday they had a special court for me in Limavady courthouse. I was handcuffed to two detectives – Laurel and Hardy We drove to Limavady and parked behind the courthouse. The two geniuses got out with me handcuffed between them and marched to the door. There was a hand written sign taped to the door - "courthouse closed – special court being held in the town hall." So off we go through Limavady town centre, me handcuffed to these two idiots and them stopping people and asking, "where is the town hall?"
We eventually got there and they took me in. It looked like every RUC man in the north had turned up FFS. The charges were read out and the judge remanded me in custody.
So off we went to the Crum. In a red ford escort. All the way up the motorway they’re going "you know you’re fucked- your life’s over you scumbag." I sat there smiling and never answered. They took a wrong turn in Belfast and ended up in a nationalist area -I was going by the murals and their conversation.. I started shitting myself in case the 'Ra opened up on their big sore thumb car with me handcuffed in the back.
They eventually made it to the Crum. If you’ve been there you know the score – screws and war dogs surrounding you. So Laurel unlocks his handcuffs from me and sez to Hardy "we won’t be seeing this scumbag in Strabane for a while." Hardy sez, "aye right." And can’t unlock his handcuffs. 20 minutes we were stood there while all these cunts tried their keys. I said to him "looks like me and you are sharing a cell tonight." He was raging: said "shut your fuckin mouth!" I was nearly pishing myself laughing. Even the screws were laughing and your man is getting redder and redder… Eventually they got the handcuffs unlocked.
I felt, psychologically, that the upper hand had subtlety slipped to me and stood waving to them going "bye bye boys, safe journey – try not to get lost on the way home."
They just gave me the fingers …