It isn’t that this is a slow day. On the contrary, too much stupid has been jostling for my attention. Allegedly tired-and-emotional actors piddling in aeroplanes (update: prostate problem, very embarassing for the guy), rabid antivaxers pulling their heads out of their arses just long enough to vomit up pieces of bloody (and libellous) diarrhea, more fact-free soundbites from the gaggle of right-wing extremists jostling for the GOP nomination and, meanwhile, the Google+ fuckup continues apace.
The trouble is that over the past few weeks current events have largely exceeded the recommended maximum daily WTF dose for an adult. Ambient nuttery is so high I wouldn’t blink if David Cameron started a song-and-dance routine dressed as Snow White, while the rest of his cabinet portrayed the seven dwarfs and the animals of the forest. I might blink if they then proceeded to stop claiming expenses and donated all their salaries to the poor and needy: apparently 18 out of the 23 cabinet members are millionaires. So much for being close to the ground. Cue a quick chorus of Common People, a song which sounds more pertinent every time I hear it.
Anyway, what is this post about, apart from making it obvious that I need a drink and the SO won’t let me have one? Well, something that was not quite in the headlines a couple of days ago sparked a memory. It was this: BBC News – Hoax 999 calls made public by south Wales fire service.
999 is the emergency call number in the UK. Now, nobody likes people who make prank calls. It costs hardworking professionals precious time, can misdirect emergency resources, which costs time and taxpayer money and it can also cost lives: cf. the boy who called “wolf”, and other real-life cautionary tales.
Therefore it’s not surprising that those who get nabbed doing this repeatedly risk fines, or even prison. A psychiatrist told me of one case who got a suspended sentence for his serial prankery, provided he got psychiatric help (the man claimed he had “irresistible urges”). This particular trick cyclist is a placid, avuncular type and much sharper than he might seem. The patient discussed his “urges” and it seemed to help. The calls stopped.
Then he started insisting the urges were becoming irresistible again, and he was sure he was going to relapse. He got quite excited about the whole thing, phoning the psychiatrist – who already had him marked as an annoying little attention-grabber – regularly. Finally, at an appointment scheduled just before the summer holidays, the guy swore he was scared he’d relapse and couldn’t manage without help.
“I’ll give you help,” says the psychiatrist, leaning confidentially over the desk and jabbing with a forefinger. “If you ever make a prank call again, I will physically kick your arse from here to next Tuesday.”
He never called 999 again.
- Man jailed for plane bomb hoax against online girlfriend (guardian.co.uk)