Well what a palaver that was!
“Can you do a talk about your books at our community library?” I was asked.
Well I was hardly going to say no was I! My second book, In The Doghouse, has just been released on an unsuspecting public and I’m hardly going to pass up the opportunity to shout about it, am I?
“That’s great. Leave it with us and we’ll let you know when.”
“Thanks very much,” well I was chuffed to be asked.
I didn’t have long to wait for the call.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the one that I was expecting.
“Are you DBS checked?”
“DBS checked, you know – it used to be CRB until they changed it.”
Ah yes, the ministry of Silly Acronyms and Initials strikes again.
To be honest I had come across it before. They ask for the same thing in schools too.
And I don’t blame them. After all they don’t know me from Adam. And there are, as we are sadly only too aware, some very dubious characters about. I mean, have you seen my author photo?
But – and here’s the rub, if you go onto the website for the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau in case you were wondering) you soon discover that it is nigh on impossible as an author to get yourself DBSed.
No – I know DBSed is not a proper word, I’m not totally barking, but I did a blog about making words up some time back, so please pay attention.
And sit up straight at the back while we’re at it.
Apparently you are not allowed to apply for the aforementioned accreditation as an author although your alliterative acumen may authenticate any application.
Your employer has to do it.
And how many of us scribblers has one of them.
O.K., for the day job perhaps yes.
But for this secretive activity that many of us undertake under cover of the wee small hours of the morning?
Well that’s all a bit suspicious isn’t it!?
Surely only sexual deviants and house burglars work to such an unsociable timescale.
So I’m stuffed.
I ask around.
A few Facebook groups that I belong to.
And bless them, they come up with some suggestions.
Among them is the spiffing idea that us poor bloody English who wish to get ourselves checked out should perhaps apply to the Scottish government instead.
Well I take back what I said about Nicola Sturgeon a few blogs back.
After all, what better way of getting money out of the auld enemy than relieving them of 25 pounds sterling for telling one of their number that they’re not actually a criminal.
And after all, what does it matter to them?
As long as we don’t travel past the wall that the Italians built to keep them out of our bit we could be Jack the bloody Ripper for all they care.
Incidentally am I the only one who thinks that Trumps wall is a bit of a storm in a teacup. The last time I looked there was a bloody big fence there already – perhaps it’s not the principle they’re arguing about, just the best method of construction.
So, dear Nicki (hope she doesn’t think me too informal) – I’m an honest to goodness upstanding citizen, o.k? Oh, and just in case it gives me some brownie points my surname is Robertson and the ‘J’ stands for Jimmy, sorry James.
Anyway it came today.
My DBS certificate.
I’m not a criminal after all (I did keep quiet about the speeding ticket issued by P.C. Sluts – honestly I swear that was his name – in 1999, but I doubt Nicola cares about that either, she’s in love with Angela, not Teresa and the Germans have unrestricted autobahns!)
So I’m not a criminal. I could have told them that.
But now I have piece of paper to prove it.
And I didn’t have to paint my face blue or cry, ‘freedom,‘ to do it.
Pssst! Want an author talk doing? Very cheap, because unfortunately I am a bit damaged.
No, thanks for asking but there’s no need for concern. It’s just that I’m limping a bit. I fell off the back of a lorry!