I was just turning into the drive at Raistlin Towers when I noticed a man and woman, both with clipboards and some sort of identity badges about their necks, a couple of doors up the street examining the interior of one of the dustbins and making notes.
As anybody who lives in Wolverhampton will tell you, there are so many different and bulky bins that it is next to impossible to keep them all out of sight.
Anyway, I digress...
I got out of the car and watched them proceed to next door and do the same thing. Needless to say, our recycling and garden rubbish bins were clearly next for examination and I did get a cheery "Good afternoon" from the woman as they strode purposefully up the footpath.
In admittedly somewhat less than cordial terms I asked their business on my property. I guess they had an inkling that I was going to be... inquisitive - they were correct.
"We're from Wolverhampton City Council and were are inspecting the contents of the various bins we provide at residential premises to ensure that recycling regulations are being complied with." In other words, the dustbin police
I deliberately didn't answer and after an uncomfortable few seconds she said "Well, we'll just get on with it and leave you in peace." while the geezer went to lift the lid of our garden waste bin.
Maybe it was the tone of voice or maybe it was my look. Whatever, I said "Oh no you're not" and his hand shot back to his side with the speed of a rattlesnake.
I then asked to see their identity documents, which they seemed more than willing to show me and I made a note of their names. The woman, clearly the more perceptive of the two asked me why I'd made a note of their names and was I going to be difficult.
I replied that I had no intention of being difficult and would not attempt to stop them from examining the contents of my bins, upon production of a warrant to search premises, authorised by a Police officer of the rank of Inspector or above and granted by a Magistrate. I also enquired under what section of PACE would that warrant have been granted or if not PACE then under what Act did they intend to invade my privacy against my express wishes.
Then the bloke decided to wade in: "We don't have a warrant and we don't need a warrant. Now just stop being silly and let us get on with our jobs".
Again, I didn't reply and again, the woman, sensing that his blustering confidence might just be misplaced, asked me why I thought they needed a warrant.
I explained that, if they were silly enough to proceed against my wishes, I would report them both for consideration of Summons under the Public Order Act 1994, as amended, section 68 for the offence of aggravated trespass.
Do you know, they both stopped dead in their tracks and I do believe that the bloke went quite pale. The woman then said that she thought she had recognised me and now she knew where she had seen me before. "I gave evidence in Court about a year ago and you were the Magistrate sitting in the middle"
I said, "Really? I'm abashed to say that I don't remember you"
"I remember you though. Sorry to have taken up so much of your time, we'll leave you in peace, good afternoon... sir"
OK, they were doing the job they'd been told to do presumably and I certainly acted like a right twunt (a very polite twunt though), however, I wonder how many of the residents of my street had wanted to challenge them but for the clipboard and identity card regalia which had probably sapped their confidence?
I'm lucky in that I have sufficient self confidence, combined with a little knowledge of Statute and Common law, a certain belligerence and a pathological hatred of jobsworths with clipboards
Whether I did right in intimidating these people or not, I can't say, but what I do know is that they were clearly under the impression that they had a right to enter the bounds of private property and, as shown by the single comment from the bloke, were perfectly willing to be intimidating in their own right.
Oh well, it made a change from the usual humdrum daily grind