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A suitable riposte

GARY QUIGLEY, a child protection detective, has found himself on the wrong side of the law after trying to stop colleagues pilfering his Powerade.

Sadly, the detective constable took things a little too far by lacing the drink with screenwash, creating a potentially deadly beverage that made ill the man who drank it.

Mr Quigley clearly heard the one about revenge being served cold and went for a chilled cocktail.

In his defence, the police officer said he was fed up with his bottles of juice being stolen and wanted to "teach [the thief] a lesson." He's now on trial at Southwark Crown Court for his efforts and will probably emerge from the affair a little more generous of spirit.

I hope not. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating poisoning as a sensible endeavour. But petty pilfering gets my goat. In fact, as I get older I find a vast and varied range of minute offences get my goat to an extent disproportionate to their impact.

Not a day goes by that I wouldn't like to hand a chilled cocktail of revenge to some doofus and smile sweetly while they sup it down. The more minor the offence, the more creatively ingredients would be mixed in my highball of hatred.

The couple who hung their coats over the seat I was sitting in at the cinema. Not only did they drape their coats behind my head, they draped them hem forwards so the pockets -full of keys - were right behind my head. I'd like to have turned round and given them a little lesson on public conduct. But I didn't; I just slipped the coats along to an empty chair. They slipped them back.

In my head, I stood up and threw popcorn over them, just to see how they felt about inconvenience.

There's nothing worse for prompting an utterly petty and ridiculous revenge fantasy than ordering a coffee that's badly made.

Or men who take up a seat and a half on public transport by spreading their inconsiderate knees as wide and as boastfully as they can.

The payback choices are endless but revenge is always fantasy. In reality I just don't have the guts.

GK Chesterton said: "Silence is the unbearable repartee." I'll grudgingly admit he was on to something. But generally my silence stems from a severe attack of L'esprit de l'escalier rather than any sense of dignity.

Still, it's worth working up to, the perfection of small, spontaneous revenges.

There's certainly plenty of opportunities to practice.

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