Jimi had decided to visit Little Richard at his hotel to claim the $50 that Little Richard owed him. I had dressed up specially in a powder-blue dress I was very proud of, with pearl buttons and long tight sleeves. Jimi wore his vintage army jacket.
People think that British police are fairly harmless, unarmed, wear comical helmets, and ride around on horses and old bicycles.
The police that threatened us were completely different. They were Special Patrol Group who were riot police that were tasked to patrol trouble spots. They poured out of an anonymous unmarked green van and charged at us in South Kensington after we had been visiting Little Richard’s hotel. They wore flat peaked caps and blue shirts and carried weighted batons.
Later the SPG was disbanded after an anti-racism demonstrator was beaten to death in Southall and an internal police enquiry found the officers owned illegal weapons and some may have been members of neo-nazi groups.
Below is an excerpt from my book.
As we came out of the hotel we decided to go to the Cromwellian where I had been DJing, which was just down the road. It was a chilly night and Jimi was wearing the military dress jacket which was soon to become part of his trademark. A police van came screeching to a halt beside us and seven officers leapt out, firing questions at Jimi. He replied as calmly as possible, although we were both pretty rattled.
‘Do you realise that our soldiers died in the uniform?’
‘What?’ Jimi looked down at the jacket, suddenly understanding. ‘In a Royal Veterinary Corps dress jacket?’
‘Take it off!’ the first policeman ordered.
I felt embarrassed and intimidated but Jimi just quietly removed his jacket. The policeman calmed down when they saw Jimi was going to be polite whatever they said to him and began to mutter among themselves, perhaps realising that we were harmless and that they had gone a bit over the top. I think one of the younger ones might have recognised Jimi from the few television appearances Chas was beginning to get for him.
‘Well, don’t let us catch you wearing it again!’ he said rather sheepishly, and off they went (back to the van).
(Special Patrol Group was replaced by Territorial Support Group which has more extensive training but performs the same functions. There are still many complaints about them although they are better than before.)
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