It was a cold dark night and the road behind the cathedral was almost empty. There were a few parked cars, lightly covered with snow, and the occasional woman standing at corners plying their trade. A thin grey man slipped out of the shadows, crossed the slushy road hugging his dark overcoat around him, he hesitantly walked towards the nearest woman. Momentarily his pasty grey face was highlighted under the street lights.
On arriving at the corner he looked up and seemed to have second thoughts. She was fat, boy was she fat. Unwashed, the stench cut though the cold air. The harsh red dress she just about wore was dirty and tattered; the result of months of continuous grime.
“Business,” she said. “Come on big boy you know you want to. Only £10, for you special offer.”
Meekly she look him by the hand the they slipped up a back alley where the snow was undisturbed.
In the darkness of the back alley, and otherwise engaged, they did not see the men running towards them, batons in hand.
“Whore, scum,” they shouted. The woman, on her knees at the time, was smacked over the head, the baton swung down at the perfect angle for a vicious blow. “Take that you bitch.”
Then the rest piled in boots, batons striking the woman in a frenzy. The grey man stood, aghast, back pressed tightly against the wall, trousers down, shrivelled manhood exposed.
One of the men shouted: “Stop now, mustn't kill the whore, much as she deserves it.”
A few more blows and the rest stepped back. “Chief Constable's new policy on whores,” another of the men shouted at the battered woman, “zero tolerance, get up you bitch.”
The woman dragged herself up clutching the wall, semen still dribbling down her chin, blood gushing down her face, bruises everywhere. It was only then that it sunk in these were the police.
A constable shone his torch in the grey man's face. “Blimey you. Sorry sir, archbishop sir. The church really does take vice seriously this time of year. Better run along now. Sorry for interrupting, sir. Off you go, double quick.”
The grey man slunk off as fast as his thin legs would allow. The constable turned to the woman.
“Name?” he demanded.
“In the circumstances we'll say no more. Why do you do this?”
“Someone's got to pay for all those bloody toys.”