You know when you’re murdered and the cops go through your calendars or diaries to find out your secret stuff?
Who you spoke to, met or WhatsApped?
Bwaahahahaha. Pity the poor people who have to do that in our house. First they would have to fight their way through blood-soaked piles of furballs: I swear, I always have at least one more dog that goes in the dustpan after each sweep. If I was lying there dead, I would also like to have a little word or two with the five of them to find out what the hell they were doing while I was being murdered.
That interrogation would be far simpler than the Saffercan Police trying to investigate my lists and notes. Thankfully, I wouldn’t be around to hold my breath.
Lists, notes and jottings have been part of my daily life for the 40 years I’ve been in this business. It was drummed into me from day one and the few times I did not heed this instruction, I found myself in Big Trouble.
Now it’s routine to pick up a pen and snatch my notebook (more scratchpad, honestly) when the phone rings.
Forty years is a very long time to establish a deeply ingrained habit.
Going back through the notebooks looking for something is interesting and frustrating. There are so many names, numbers, slashes, underlines, lines to mark the end of one conversation and the beginning of a new one, boxes around some. Most pages have dates, but not all. There are many “entries”, including a few weird lists of numbers, that I have no idea at all what they mean.
There are even some grocery lists, obviously written since I discovered online shopping, although I can’t count on that – many a time I’ve found myself in an aisle trying to remember what I needed while the list rests on the kitchen counter.
But it proved a lifeline when the “cop” scam came to our house.
A “cop” calls you – ours had police radios in the background as a special effect – and tells you they are about to arrest you on a serious charge, but for a certain amount the accuser will drop charges and the warrant they’re about to serve will disappear. When I told him it sounded like a scam, he acknowledged that but aggressively told me jail was looming.
I wrote notes as I asked heaps of questions, took names (all fake, but “high” ranks) demanded (non-forthcoming) badge numbers and called the real police.
The chaps I spoke to were extremely helpful, finding no record of said offence on the specified dates. They offered to set up a meeting with the scammers to catch them. They had already dropped the amount required from R7 500 to (checks notes) R750 when I told them I had reported the calls to the real police and CrimeStop and they could just bugger off.
Clearly they didn’t. About three months later, they tried a “follow-up” call to “wrap up” the outstanding warrant.
Other people have been targeted so they are still not done.
If they call you, don’t panic, take notes and scream bloody murder when you report them.
- Lindsay Slogrove is the news editor
The Independent on Saturday