Friday, January 21, 2011

Watching the Amateur Detectives (Part Three)

"He's a foreigner - he must have done it!" That seems to be the sub-text in the reporting of the latest development in that murder case in Bristol, as the police arrest another suspect. Having already tried - and apparently failed - to pin it on the landlord, on the basis that he was a weirdo, sorry, eccentric, the police have now defaulted to that other stand-by when it comes to suspected killers: Johnny Foreigner. I mean, just read any Agatha Christie novel and you'll find that there's a pretty good chance that the murderer will turn out to be the chap with the funny accent, (unless he's Hercule Poirot, of course - except in Curtain, where he is the killer). It's the same with James Bond novels - all those sexual sadists plotting world domination are invariably foreign. Even Sir Hugo Drax in Moonraker, apparently a true blue Brit, turns out to be a Commie, ex-Nazi Hun in disguise,(in the book, obviously, not the film, where he's French from the outset). The giveaway is that he cheats at cards - no Englishman would do that.

Anyway, the police in Bristol seem to arresting suspects on the basis that they fulfil a particular set of criteria - mainly that they live in the same block of flats as the victim. If I was a tenant there, and they don't charge the current suspect, I'd be getting bloody worried. It also seems that they have to conform to the tabloid image of a slavering sex murderer - in the first instance, a former public school teacher, lifelong bachelor with weird hair, and in the second instance, a bloody foreigner. Not just any foreigner, of course, but a Dutchman. After all, we all know what they're like, don't we? Perpetually high on drugs, obsessed with pornography and sex mad. The bloody Dutch! They're just homicidal sex deviants waiting to happen! Of course, if they can't pin it on him, they'll have to look for some other type of stereotype living in that same building. Someone with what the press thinks is a weird hobby, like bird watching, or building model railways. Quite what they'll do when they run out of residents to arrest, I don't know. Widen they're investigation to take in a slightly broader focus than just one building, perhaps?

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