Volks Rail Avenger
That was when I caught the attention of a police officer. He looked at the katana in my right hand. He said: “Excuse me sir, what’s that?” I said: “It’s a sword.” It was a sword. I offered it to him After a long pause he asked: “Why do you have a sword?”
Hi gang. Bank holiday here today so I'm taking the day off! I will therefore regale you with a rerun of something that I posted last year: the story of the time the cops took my sword.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Brighton, and I myself was feeling good after my first haircut in months. I'd made my way to the house I'd moved out of a few months before to help my friend who still lived there clear the attic of some of the tat we’d stashed up there during our 8 years of residence, a task delayed by lockdown. Most of it was destined for charity shops or the fire, but I decided to hold on to few items with novelty or sentimental value and take them back with me to my new flat. One of those items was a (metal, but not sharp) scabbarded katana that I got very cheaply off a friend at uni for a laugh and have kept ever since. At the time, despite being a student with no money, I judged that it was funnier to me to have a sword than to have a small amount of money, and I think history has proven I was right about that.
I debated getting the bus, but despite the weight of my bag full of tat, I thought I’d rather walk, enjoy the sunshine some more. When I was leaving my housemate offered me a binbag to wrap my sword, but since it was in scabbard I thought why bother; what's the worst that could happen? As I was passing The Level, a midsize park near the station, I saw the road ahead had been closed off and there were lots of police around. Possibly an accident? Lots of police around. I started feeling like maybe I should've taken the binbag. I carried on walking and pretty soon saw a huge stream of people coming down in my direction. It was a protest of some kind, and while I couldn’t hear the words they were saying I could recognise chant rhythms. It didn’t look like the flow of people was going to ease up any time soon (the Argus, who were of course liveblogging it, said there were around 2000 people) I tried to get around, without success. That was when I caught the attention of a police officer. He looked at the katana in my right hand.
He said: “Excuse me sir, what’s that?”
I said: “It’s a sword.”
It was a sword. I offered it to him
After a long pause he asked: “Why do you have a sword?”
I’m not sure there’s really ever a good answer to that question. I didn’t really know what else to say, so I just told him the truth; that I was conveying it from my old house to my new flat. He guided me over to some other officers who were standing around nearby, as was someone in a flouorescent tabard proclaiming them an “official observer”. I repeated my explanation to them, and they explained that they’d probably have to hold on to my sword. They asked me whether I thought it maybe wasn't a good idea to do it today to which I answered: well yeah, I know that now. I hadn’t realised there was a protest, and in the absence of any compelling reason for there to be a load of police around I’d assumed there would not be. Brighton’s the kind of place where people ordinarily wouldn’t really look twice at someone carrying a katana. (That’s why I like it here.) Nobody had the whole time I'd been walking down Lewes Road.
Once they’d taken my sword and decided that I was just a guy who happened to own a sword rather than someone bent on more nefarious ends they let me go. The official observer came over to check the police hadn’t been remiss in their conduct. No, I said, they took my sword, but if I'd been in the protest I probably would've wanted the officers to take swords from anyone nearby too. I wasn’t looking to turn this into an issue. Was I aware that I was allowed to carry weapons in public? This... sounded wrong to me, but I am not a lawyer, so I admitted I didn't know, but that this, to me, didn’t feel like overreach and I don't think I can in good conscience criticise them for it. They seemed a little disappointed.
I never got the sword back. I remain, sadly, not the second coming of Kairo Sejuro; not the Volks Rail Avenger. I’m merely Adam Englebright, private citizen.