The radio call said ‘Watch out for the individuals with flowers in their hair’. ‘Aye and this isnae the summer of ’69,’ PC McGovern muttered as he cut off his beat and turned into the Botanic Gardens. This was 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon. In McGovern’s experience, not many serious crimes were committed mid week.
McGovern sauntered up towards the greenhouses. Wednesday afternoons were for moving drunk old men from the playpark. Or dealing with lost dogs or children. But flowers and hair? That was a new one for him. Bad enough he was out on his lonesome today, this being an odd, in number, not personality, of individuals on the rota sheets.
As he approached the greenhouses, he swore he could hear….bloody panpipes? Unless Drunk Stewie had taken up the tin flute to pay for his Buckfast habit, something different was afoot. McGovern quickened his pace, rounded the greenhouses and stopped in his tracks.
Someone was indeed playing panpipes. It was not Drunk Stewie and his cronies. Beside the greenhouse was a small informal orchestra, comprising of the panpipes ensemble, three saxophones, one drum and a cello. As the radio call had suggested there were many androgynous individuals with flowers in their hair. What the radio call had failed to mention were the trio of goats off to the side of the musicians.
McGovern collared the man with the shortest haircut. ‘What’s going on here, pal?’
‘My friend’ Beardy answered ‘it is a joining of two hearts, two minds, two bodies….’
McGovern paused. ‘This is the first wedding I’ve been to that’s had goats as guests. What have they got to do with proceedings?’
‘They are providing the sacrifice.’
A sacrifice? True, many Glaswegian men viewed the march towards the wedding altar and a harridan of a fiancé (“Yes, it does fucking matter if the swan napkins are PINK instead of WHITE!”) on a par with heading towards the electric chair. But what had the goats done to deserve this? Currently the sacrifices were munching away on the grass, no doubt ruining some poor parkie’s attempts to keep it under control.
‘Have ye got a license?’ asked McGovern. Beardy looked slightly puzzled. ‘For those animals. You canny just bring a small herd of goats into this area withoot permission, son.’ As if on cue, one of the goats looked up at McGovern, wagged its tail then proceeded to sprinkle pellets of shite all over Glasgow City Council’s grass.
Suddenly the panpipes died away. Beardy’s face lit up. ‘No time for that, for the ceremony is about to start!’ Then he scampered away before McGovern could object.
For first time in a number of years, McGovern was scuppered. What could he do? Before he had time to act, the saxphone delivered a loud wail. The cello plucked out some notes. It sounded like the opening chords to All You Need Is Love. McGovern could see the happy couple, arms entwined, heading towards the ensemble who were throwing petals on the ground.
Oh holy shite, McGovern thought, as the couple approached. One was a man wearing nothing, except a bizarre cod piece arrangement hiding his modesty. The other member of the couple was dressed in a panda costume.
By now, quite a crowd had gathered. Adults, by the sound of panpipes; the children, by the excitement of the goats’ bodily functions. Some mothers with pursed lips were looking at McGovern, expecting him to take control of the situation. One mother, dressed in a bright orange kaftan and yellow Crocs marched up to him. ‘What are you going to do about this officer?’ she demanded. Her crisp Kelvinside tones ran alarm bells in McGovern’s head.
‘Well, madam, they’re no really daeing anything illegal as such…’
‘My children have been violated!’ yelled Kaftan Woman. ‘Look at that man barely dressed! Look at the panda costume! They are making a mockery of the sanctity of marriage!’
‘Last time Ah checked, such a thing wasnae against the law.’
Kaftan looked like she was about to turn purple. ‘There should be! Who is your superior officer?’
Fucking great, thought McGovern. Jumped up West End bint. He could deal with the eejits who threatened to follow him home and kick his head in. He could handle the City Centre drunks and party girls who tried to kiss, punch or throw up on him. However, he could not be bothered with West End arseholes. True, this bizarre event would not have lasted five minutes in certain areas of Glasgow. Though that was more down to the aggressive nature of the locals than the authority of the local police force.
McGovern felt someone poking his chest. Kaftan Women looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel. ‘Stop. This. Right. Now!’ she spluttered, poking him with her finger.
‘Are you touching me, madam?’ he asked, in his voice he reserved for dealing with her sort.
Kaftan realised what she had done and the possible repercussions. ‘Officer, I’m sorry..got a tad carried away there…please accept my apologies…”
‘You do realise that assaulting a police officer is a serious offence?’ McGovern was beginning to enjoy himself. ‘You have committed more of a crime here than this group of individuals.’
‘I was the one who phoned your station when they arrived!’ spluttered Kaftan.
‘Oh, so we can do you for wasting police time as well?’ In reality, McGovern would never consider wasting his time and vast amounts of paperwork taking in this orange monstrosity. He noted the wedding ceremony appeared to be under way and most of the crowd’s attention had turned to that. Off to the side, Beardy and some helpers were milking the goats and handing out glasses of the liquid to the excited children. One mother strode over yelping ‘Artemisia! That milk has not been pasteurised! Spit it out at once. That’s it dear, use your Capri Sun to rinse out your mouth.’
McGovern bent close to Kaftan. ‘Now listen here. I could arrest you.’ Kaftan squeaked and began to cry. ‘However, I shall practise some discretion as you should have done in the first place. I will ask the gent to cover up. Otherwise, they’re not doing anything wrong in the eyes of the law. I will ask you not to waste police time with such nonsense in the future.’ He pointed towards the band. ‘I ask you, dae they look like they will suddenly spark a riot because someone has dropped a sweetie wrapper on the path?’
Kaftan muttered, ‘No, officer’ and slunk back towards the pack of yummy mummies. Some of them seemed to be quite enjoying the ceremony. They probably recognised their mother-in-law amongst the pack of goats.
McGovern waded into the wedding party and corned Beardy, who had left his milking post for a quick break. ‘Listen mate, gonnae ask yer man to cover up a bit? He’s offended some genteel ladies over there.’
‘Not a problem, my friend. I have a spare robe in my rucksack.’
‘One thing before I go,’ said McGovern. ‘Whit’s the idea behind the panda suit?’
‘Furries,’ smiled Beardy.
‘Furries? Right, I guess I’ll have to work that one out on my own.’
And off went McGovern, back onto his beat and full of stories to share round a welcome pint this evening. Tonight he would put in a request to be transferred back onto his usual beat.
McGovern did not realise he was humming All You Need Is Love under his breath as he went.