By Kris | August 3, 1999
by Giorgio Venturati
The time: 12.15 pm. The date: Sunday 1 August 1999. The place: a hotel in York.
A van arrived to take Clam Abuse and their entourage to Liverpool for that night’s gig. It parked up outside the hotel in Longfield Terrace, a narrow street, which meant that the vehicle was blocking the road for a few minutes while the band’s bags, etc, were loaded in.
While loading, a car drove up behind the van. Its driver leant out of the window, telling the band and crew to “move that van, I’ve got to get through.” Not satisfied with the reply he got (a polite “we’ll only be a couple of minutes, we’re just loading”), the motorist got out of his car, walked over to Ginger and said, “Look, I’ve told you to move the van, now move it or I’ll get someone to move it for you.” Ginger said that the driver was at the back of the van, and that they would just be a minute.
Everyone assumed that the guy was just an irate motorist, but he soon revealed himself to be a plain clothes policeman who claimed to be on “official business.” He demanded that the van was moved there and then. It was pointed out to him that if his business was that urgent, he might want to reverse 50 yards and take an alternative route. The policeman threatened to arrest everyone for blocking the road. Ginger told the policeman that he was abusing his privilege with threats of arrest, and ended up calling him a “fucking Nazi.”
The policeman’s response was to arrest him, in the process using abusive language himself. Tour manager Gigs couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing.
“He then threatened to arrest the rest of the party,” said an incredulous Gigs the next day, “including Tyla – who was sitting, reading, in the back of the van – for throwing litter around, which was not true anyway. The rest of the party were completely bemused by the situation, as we couldn’t understand why, if he had been on important police business, he had taken 15 minutes out to generate a situation that would not have occurred otherwise, and not simply reversed up.”
Gigs got the policeman’s name and number, though his partner, who Gigs describes as “embarrassed and bemused” refused to hand over his details.
Two marked police cars and a lock-up van eventually arrived, and Ginger was put into the back and taken to Fulford Road police station, the headquarters for the North Yorkshire Police.
Rather than simply charging and releasing him, though, the police wanted to keep Ginger locked up overnight because he couldn’t give them an address where he lived. He explained that, being a travelling musician, he didn’t have one, so he gave his mother’s address in South Shields. This apparently wasn’t good enough.
Gigs: “When speaking on the phone to the the custody officer, I asked if I could speak to or see Ginger, or if a solicitor had been called for him, or if Ginger could call me. The reply was that I could neither see nor speak to him, as they were too busy in the station at the time, and that a solicitor had not been called. I asked the officer to pass on a message to Ginger to call one, as at this point there still seemed a chance that we might get to Liverpool in time. He said that he would pass the message on about the solicitor – he didn’t – and it would be about five hours before Ginger could phone me, as they were too busy.
“Five hours later, with the show having been cancelled – at the cost of approximately £1000 on Ginger’s behalf, and £400 on Tyla’s, Ginger was allowed to call me and I returned to the station. At this point, a local solicitor phoned me to say that he had been appointed to act on his behalf, and all that was required to get him out was a local address, rather than a home address in the country. As we had been just about to leave York at the time this would have been difficult, except that two of us had been staying at a friend’s house during our stay there. After a couple of phone calls, this was established as true and Ginger was released on bail overnight, to appear at the Magistrates’ Court at 11.30am the following morning.
“The charge sheet indicated that he was being charged with ‘Using obscene or foul language which was likely to cause offence to those who could hear it.'”
The charges against Ginger were dropped the next day. The rest of the tour went ahead as planned.