Friday, 24 December 2010

Well, are YOU ready?

What is it with this "are you ready for Christmas"? We always feel slightly bemused when people, doubtless well meaningly, ask this strange question. I mean, is there some sort of deadline when someone at the BBC broadcasts the word "GO"? Is there a point, beyond which, if one is not `ready` that some horrible ill befalls one? Is this why there are people flapping their stressed-out way around supermarkets up and down the land, breathlessly muttering to themselves, "I'm not ready, I'm not ready, when will I be ready, am I ready yet? - OH MY GOD,  I'M NOT F@@KING READYYYYYY!"

Well I'm always ready. Always ready for a pint with friends, a cuddle from any member of the family, especially Mrs Hogday, always ready to chat with friends or strangers, providing they are nice and not pains in the arse. So I just don't get it when I'm asked if I'm ready for bloody Christmas.

Anyway, I hope all my blog pals and acquanitances, who I've enjoyed swapping yarns and comments with this past year, are as happy and as healthy as they can be. Are you ready for this? :)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Putting off the inevitable

My pal over at Behind Blue Eyes is spying on me. He stole my Friday rant in a perfect flanking manoeuver so that I won't come out (until someone sings `Jerusalem` to me), but I salute him. I also salute the first comment.

Having had to re-write my post, I have decided to start from the splash of paint on the Royal car and work backwards. I used to work in Royalty and diplomatic protection. In the earliest of my days in London, it was a very low key affair, primarily because the Monarch did not want Metropolitan plod within earshot or line of sight, to the extent that up until 1973 the Royal cars didn't even have police radios installed in them. Her Maj` felt that in her busy schedule, the little jaunts she spent in the Royal Rollers should, as far as practicable, be a brief respite, a period of quiet and uninterrupted contemplation. Quite understandable. It was the attempted kidnap of her daughter in The Mall and the attempted murder of said Princess's personal protection officer, Insp Jim Beaton and my colleague, Pc Mick Hills, that changed all that and despite the wishes of Royalty to be plod free, their bullet catchers deserve the means to summon help.

These days security, although ramped up considerably, is still tempered with that original wish of the Monarch and her family to be as close to the public as the Met Commissioner and the Government will permit. But it ain't that easy a concept, whereas protecting the US President, with that veto taken out of his hands, is pretty straightforward - and I have experience of working alongside the US Secret Service (Clinton's) at very close quarters. So I wasn't surprised to see that Charles and Camilla copped some aggro en route to the London Palladium last night, albeit I was infuriated that it had happened at all and how they became embroiled but, as anyone who's been in those situations knows, a crowd can shift and reform very quickly indeed. I suppose I should feel relieved that some twat didn't get slotted from several 9mm Glocks - but the use of firearms in crowds presents the greatest challenge to protection officers and it was highly likely that lethal force was not an option - or at the very least the moment had passed in a nanosecond, but then again that's all it takes for a Royal in public to take incoming, which is where the bullet catcher earns it's pay - do you see the dilemma?

This morning, we could have had the arguably worse spectre of a `student martyr`,the incident and the corpse hijacked by the slavering extremists of the various unions and SWP, spouting bollocks on behalf of  their own causes. I can hear the whining now, "Why was he/she shot 6 times"? "Can't the cops tell the difference between a pot of paint and a grenade"? ad nauseum. I think the p.o.s. who attacked the Royal couple weren't the only ones lucky to have `dodged a bullet`, justifiable though a shot under the circumstances might have been, had an armed officer seen it coming - but they didn't.

I was once on a traffic point in Pall Mall, at 11.30pm, on a freezing winters night. Her Maj` The Queen Mother was returning to her home from a dinner in The City. She had no motorcycle outriders and no SB protection vehicle in tow. It was low key. All we had to do was see that she didn't have to stop, by being at strategic junctions and only intervening should the lights be against her. My job was one of the most crucial I'd ever been given (sarcasm). I was to stand by the pedestrian controlled traffic lights, just before Marlborough Road, to make sure that no one pressed the button to cross Pall Mall and obstruct the Royal. It was a sub-zero cold night. I had my overcoat (called a `British Warm`, and only issued to drivers or r/t operators, so was a bit of a status symbol) and my Walther PP. The streets were all but deserted, the wind was howling and there was sleet in the air. I huddled out of the wind in a doorway, about 30 feet from the traffic lights, knowing that no one would come near them. My radio crackled and I heard "NLT 1, through T-Square". She was on the last leg of the journey back to Clarence House, my leg.

I peeped out of my shelter and gazed up Pall Mall towards Trafalgar Square and tried to pick out the familiar number plate and bulky shape of the old Roller. There it was, about 200 yards away. The driver gave the usual half a second flash of the tiny, high intensity but low profile, blue light concealed along the top of the windscreen. I waved my arm in acknowledgement but decided to stay put, because there was not a soul about. Then, just as the car approached the lights, to my utter horror a tramp lurched out from another doorway, intent on heading up to Piccadilly. He tottered up to the crossing and pressed the button as Her Maj`s car, the only one in the entire f'ing street, was about 50 yards away. The Rolls Royce glided to a halt, as only Royal Rollers do, the tramp shuffled across as the Green Man signal instructed and, as he did, he touched his forehead with his forefinger in a gesture of thanks, without even looking up. I was stunned. The Royal Car continued on its graceful journey and I noticed that the chauffeur was laughing his head off. Hopefully, my sergeant wouldn't hear about it or I'd be stuck on for neglect of duty. I only mention it now, decades later, because I know he's dead.

As for the demonstration, I totally concur with Blue. In the immediate post war years, this country had the most innovative and talented engineering base, from which we stood shoulder to shoulder (and in many cases head and shoulders above) the industrial giant that was America. We produced the first turbine engined transport aircraft and actually sold them to the US, Canada and elsewhere, a remarkable achievement considering the way that the US protected its aircraft industry. We developed the English Electric Canberra jet aircraft, that we sold to the Americans, who then built them under licence and which are still flying, somewhere. We developed the first  vertical take off fighter jet and we sold that to the Americans (and Spanish Navy). The Americans developed and improved it with the R&D money that their Government allowed, but ours didn't. Our Government has just scrapped that aircraft we know better as the Harrier. All of this and more didn't come from people who had degrees in warehouse management, valuable though I'm sure that must be, it came from physicists, mathematicians, chemical engineers, structural engineers... Engineers. This did have an irritating side effect, it was called the Brain Drain, where our brightest and best were lured away by America, Canada, Saudi Arabia and many other nations who can spot a bargain when they see one.

I would support to the hilt the means of nurturing young people with those skills, giving them scholarships, bursaries, supported places in universities, whatever it takes. I'd vote to have our rising stars' fees covered, in part or in whole, from public funds depending on their proven talent and potential. I won't vote to have some lazy-arsed spuds funded to go to `yooni`  just to put off the inevitable day when they have to realise that this world does not owe them a fucking living, just because they think it does because, in a lot of cases, it bloody doesn't.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Money can't buy you....grip

Up here in the frozen wastes there are these folks who like to splash out on everything. They are logophilic bling-mingers. I have studied their antics over the past week in the arctic conditions on our roads and have compiled a shortlist of the crappest blingmobiles you can drive on snow laden roads:

In 5th place: All Jap sports cars
In 4th place:  Anything with "Turbo" or "X" appearing in its name
In 3rd place: BMW X3's and 5's (I know, these have "X" in their name but they deserve an extra mention as they really are naff and slide about like crazy)
In 2nd place: BMW's, generally

and in 1st place, the most hopeless car I've seen on snow, is.....

the new Mercedes 230 series, one of which I had to push, even on a totally level car park under a mere 6 inches of fresh snow - the thing just sat there with its rear wheels slowly revolving like they were on ball bearings. A knackered old Rover on skinny tyres ran rings around it. Beware!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Diplomatic Leek

Amid allegations of the stifling of `free speech` and `D` Notices allegedly whizzing like fireworks  amongst those guardians of truth and liberty, the British Press, the `world` waits for the latest wikid leaks to cause red faces and a possible breakdown in diplomatic relations between America and everyone else. I can steal a little of the thunder of these odious ticks, but this time it wasn't my own spies that slipped me the gossip, it was something that has been in the public domain for some considerable time.  I nevertheless felt it was appropriate to show it again, here, so that any of my blog pals can prepare themselves for the worst...brace yourselves gang, it seems that Turkey is in for it again.

Coppers..... and boilers

It's 06.30 and the central heating has kicked in on time, thanks to our new British made boiler. I cursed a bit when the old British made boiler had to be shot back in August when thankfully we didn't need it, unlike today with the snow falling in huge lumps. All the old beast needed was a new rubber seal for the casing, to stop a pin prick leak of air, but they just don't make the spares anymore, plus the law now says that you can't make a seal up from scratch. So, the knackerman came and put our old Potterton Netaheat to sleep before it did it to us. It's all part of the big plan to get these old relics out of our homes and replace them with the new, safer, more efficient models. I shouldn't complain, because that old boiler was installed in this house about 30 years ago and although we've only been here 4 years, it never missed a beat. Judging from the fact that it was built like a battleship, it probably never did.

Quite why watching that Channel 4 series, "Coppers", on the computer just now, made me start with that boiler story is currently a mystery to me, but I will soldier on and maybe the answer will appear by the time I finish. I don't usually watch TV documentaries about my old job. I used to like `The Sweeney`, because although it was close, it wasn't reality. Watching a couple of episodes of this excellent "Coppers" series did not come easy, because all I saw was the same old same old. The `low-life` was still low, but they just seemed younger and louder but were getting arrested proportionately less and at a time when their behaviour had escalated beyond what my generation of policing would have tolerated. Of course, not so very long ago, a prisoner could be processed into custody very quickly and although we still had to weigh up the logistics of making an arrest against leaving our buddies short handed, the system we had worked much more in our favour than the current one works against it. I think it was the way that a Traffic Division officer spoke of the personal, emotional side of the job that got me thinking. The scum of the earth that I encountered over the years are but a very broad-brush, non-specific memory. They are a type, a concept, an amorphous lump and although on many occasions I wished I could have just hosed them, they mean nothing to me now. I cannot picture any one individual, I just know that I experienced the type, day in, day out across a 30 year career and, apart from the odd recurring ache in my lower back where I remember the incident but not the faces, they have left no memorable mark on my life. But that Traffic Officer was correct, its the emotional stuff that is the toughest to erase, so you just have to embrace it.

On this particular day, less than 10 years ago as it happens, I was out trying to resolve a complaint against one of my officers. I had just finished visiting the complainant, who had accepted an informal resolution which was the best result I could hope for. As I switched on my radio ( although I was a chief inspector I did carry one and knew how it worked) I heard that one of my units had attended a road fatality and was not far away. I called up the control room to advise them I was attending and was there within minutes. I spoke to the two officers at the scene and got on with helping them secure the location and set up a diversion. It was a well used route but the road was easily closed off and I had set up the necessary barriers and signs within ten minutes. It was a single vehicle crash involving a motorcycle versus a lamp post, with the car he had overtaken just beforehand parked in the middle of the road, its driver in a state of severe shock. The car hadn't been touched but the young lady driving it had just seen a Kawasaki 750 overtake her at high speed, lose traction, clip the offside kerb and hit the lamp post with such force that it snapped it off, bringing it down across the road. The bike spiralled along the grass verge in two pieces, while the young male rider spun through the air like a rag doll, his body landing about 30 feet in front of his right leg. Body and leg were now covered by two pieces of tarpaulin.

I sat with the car driver and treated her for shock, wrapping a blanket round her and talking to her. I discovered that I knew her mother. In a town with a population of 110,000 I happened to know her mother! Small world. She was most definitely an ambulance case and I was happy when the paramedics arrived and did their stuff. My guys were still doing their stuff and within half an hour the accident investigators arrived and I stayed to see them meticulously  recording the scene with their infrared/laser/techno kit. Then the undertaker arrived to collect the body. The road was still quiet, the diversions were working well and for once we had hardly any gawkers to deal with. Then one chap strolled purposefully along the grass verge on the opposite side of the road. I intercepted him and explained that we were just about to remove `some obstructions` and would he mind waiting a moment. He then said, "It's OK, I won't faint, I'm in the job and I live just over there", as he produced his i/d. I lightened up and told him we were having to remove some body parts but would be 5 minutes. He then said, "Hey, you're Chief Inspector Hogday aren't you - I've got a 250 Suzuki you used to own about 15 years ago". Small world.

  I went and fetched the right leg from the side of the road and placed it in the body bag with the rest of the corpse. Although I'd picked them up a couple of times before, it always came as a surprise to me how heavy limbs are, even though I was expecting it to be. The evidence was starting to suggest that he was barrelling down that 40mph limit road at a speed in excess of 70, he overtook the car on a bend whilst piling on the juice, his rear tyre had seen better days and early indications from marks on the road (that I couldn't spot but my guys pointed out to me) suggested he lost some grip and the rear end stepped out. I felt I had done all I could and told the guys I was off and that I'd see them later for a coffee. They thanked me for attending. When junior officers thank you and you feel they mean it, that is a feeling you treasure.

The next morning, at home, my telephone rang just after 0830. It was the local hardwear store. The man apologised and told me that they couldn't come to fit my new garden gate that morning because the guy who was going to do it was involved in a traffic accident the previous afternoon. "Oh dear" I replied, "Is he OK"?  Small world.

That evening I went out on my motorcycle and met up with some other like-minded types at a seafront cafe. It was a regular meet in the summer months. We were just bikers. They didn't know I was a police officer and I didn't know what most of them were in their working lives. I did know one or two sailed close to the wind, just from keeping my ears open, but on Wednesday evenings we were just a bunch of guys who rode and talked bikes over a mug of tea.  Bikes of various shapes and sizes lined both sides of the narrow street and one of the regulars seemed to be attracting quite a bit of attention so me and my tea sidled over to the little gathering on the pavement. The guy of the moment was being consoled and one of the guys turned to me and said, "Hey Hog, what do you think, Terry's son was killed yesterday". Terry saw me and I nodded to him,. I told him I was so sorry to hear the news. He told me that the lad loved bikes and that he came out this evening to honour him. All I could think of was how heavy that leg felt. Small world.

Still haven't made the connection with all this and my old boiler.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Government in Secret Deal with Irish

My spies tell me that there is more to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's generous words and offer of financial support to the Irish than meets the eye.  What with the burgeoning cost of Britains hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games, it is strongly suspected that George Osbourne has worked out a deal with the Irish Government, whereby we lend them £7 Billion if they take on the Games.

Having seen the below secret footage of preparations for track and field, I think we'll get off quite lightly.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Take a break, relax, because you're worth it

My last 2 posts with a `severe weather theme` appear to have rattled a couple of people who are anticipating a cruise on the oceans. I just wanted to say sorry, to wish them Bon Voyage and to reassure them by saying that I'm sure the flight home will be fine.....

Friday, 12 November 2010

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Pacific......

.....following on from my extreme weather theme, something for those of you who are looking forward to your Winter cruise.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

November 10th.....

....and the forecast is of high winds and sporadic rain. 35 years ago, in a lake several thousand miles away, the forecast was similarly ominous.

Unless you've visited the Great Lakes it is hard to imagine their awesome size. The largest, Superior, covers an area of about 35,000 square miles. That is a lot of fresh water. By comparison, England covers about 50,000 square miles.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

By the dawns early light

 I love it when America does its democracy thing. It's uplifting, magnificent and fascinating. I think back to the days of the Founding Fathers, calling `enough is enough`, the original "Tea Party" in Boston Harbour, the struggles that followed, the bloodshed, the forging of allegiences with those who they felt could support them in their quest for independence and freedom from the yoke of the English King. Their Country has indeed spoken.

Meanwhile...back in the old countries...something stirred
I think `Liaison` is a French word. `Irony`, however, is universal.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Right to Strike

"Is the Fire Brigades Union decision to call a strike on Bonfire Night akin to the police withdrawing their labour as terrorists decide to `do a Mumbai`  in Manchester and is it a responsible act that will galvanise public support and sympathy"? Discuss? Nah

Saturday, 23 October 2010

"Comander, what the hell have you got to say about this"? - "Would, "sorry sir" seem a little inadequate?"

I tip my hat to Sleepy Eyed Whiners of the Deep for the below video clip.

PS. Many of my former work colleagues were former submariners and I have the greatest of respect and admiration for the things they had to do on behalf of this country. The Perisher course is up there with the things I wish I could have done, but probably wouldn't have succeeded at.

Call Me Senator from RightChange on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

"Hearts of Oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men....we always are ready" (just give us a few years)



"The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall."-  
(Marcus Tullius Cicero, circa 55BC)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Snippets of dross

I thought I'd do a bit of a `round up` of what's been going on at Chez Hog these past few weeks. It seems to me as if time is standing still, but perhaps that's just because we've been trying to sell the `Hog Pen`. This is the first time, in over 14 years together, that we've not sold a property within a week of it going onto the market and it has been something of a trial. From gettting an offer to buy over a year ago, through waiting for our `buyer` to sell her place with various promises, agreements, drop-outs and time-wasters, to her final tearful message that she'd been let down, again, by her latest buyers who read a speculative news headline on the economic forecast, panicked and withdrew from buying, it's been a pretty dire situation. Well we think we've sold again, but this time we may have to haul arse and be out in 4 weeks - talk about `wait and hurry up`, but I ain't breaking a sweat until the first bit of furniture is loaded onto the van. House conveyancing in this country is a shite system in good times, as well as the dire present.

4 weeks ago me and a mate joined thousands of other bikers at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire to take part in a charity fund raising ride-out to raise money for  "The Black Rats".  It was a grey, damp day on Sept 19th, but thousands of us turned out, rode in groups around the Garrison and through Richmond and raised over £17,600 for the post deployment support of the servicemen and  families of the 4th Mechanised Brigade.

The folks of the Garrison and town turned out to wave us through and the North Yorks Police Traffic Division provided support, which was nice of them. People were cheering, waving flags and was a little weird as we were there for them. Lots of folks in cars were tooting and flashing their lights (mainly in support, but I suspect some were doing it because, for once, they were outnumbered by bikers or they saw we had the cops as outriders and assumed we'd been arrested).                     
                                         OK, here's another biker/military story from America, which I read in the latest edition of "The Road", the magazine of The Motorcycle Action Group, to which I belong:

An 18 year US Marine Corps veteran and his female passenger were thrown from a motorcycle when they veered off the road near Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. According to newspaper reports, both sustained painful injuries due to total lack of safety gear; no helmets, no gloves, no fact no clothes at all.   
The naked riders landed in a ditch and the marine was knocked unconscious and awoke to charges of `driving without a licence, licence revoked, no roadworthiness certificate, no insurance, and no helmet. His passenger walked nearly a mile for help despite a broken arm and leg, but was only ticketed for failing to wear a helmet. Apparently, riding in the buff is not a traffic offence in Onslow County as neither were charged with exhibitionism or failure to exhibit common sense.

This morning I was in town doing a bit of shopping. As I was getting on my bike, an old guy sporting a USMC cap came up for a chat. He was an 85 yr old US Marine Veteran, over visiting his family who are posted to a military base nearby. He'd fought in the Pacific in WW2, so I was incredibly lucky, and honoured, to meet him. It was a friendly greeting and mutual exchange, which is more than I normally get from the locals in posh northerntown, who usually look down their snooties at the leather clad Hogday and his ilk. I wonder what it is about the military and bikers that prompts such a close bond?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Back from the grave - the brave Chile Dogs

Its not often anyone comes back from something like that, so I've dusted off this oldie for the occasion

Monday, 11 October 2010

Res Ipsa loquitur

I have decided to paste my own comment on a post by 200 Days regarding the `radio phone-in fest` in the aftermath of the inquest into the shooting of the banzai barrister with the shotgun.
His post reminded me of a firearms incident exercise I was refereeing in the 90`s. It was to test the incident commander, then a chief inspector, now a chief constable in a very high profile position. The thing I remember most vividly is how he arrived at the scene and got out of his car, with an armful of in-force and Home Office manuals on major incidents and firearms operations. When guns are already smoking, it's little late to be thumbing through a load of books on what you're supposed to do.

"Man applies for a shotgun licence. Police check him out and issue licence. It requires, amongst other things, for him to be of sound mind and temperate habits.  Man becomes `alcoholic`. Family must know this. Amongst them are folks who know he has a shotgun and a drink problem. Any evidence that they notified the police out of concern for his safety, or that of the wider public? He goes on a drink/psycho bender. Pushes what luck, that he is too drunk and deranged to recognise, he has left. Puts lives in danger. Is stopped from doing so by lethal force from the police who, vicariously, issued his certificate in the first place. Only the police go on trial. Those who really could have stopped this peacefully, before it happened, are left with their conscience, their principles and their sense of right and wrong".

Saturday, 9 October 2010

US Marines in Afghanistan

A moving piece of brave, solo journalism allowing a little peek into hope and despair in the week when American forces mounted a hostage rescue where Linda Norgrove, a British aid worker, lost her life.

 Rest in peace, brave angel.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Lancaster over Ontario

I'm a bit of a military history type guy. I love this aircraft. It was `state of the art` in 1943 but didn't have a SatNav until a few years ago. Some of the feats of flying performed by the crew of these planes leaves even the most skilled of their modern equivalents breathless in their admiration.  The men who flew these beasties, in unthinkably dangerous conditions, time and time again, always leave me in awe, be they navigators, pilots or gun crew. I had the rare priviledge of meeting a quiet, unassuming old man recently. Turned out he was aircrew in one of these, flew 20 night missions, was shot down, captured and spent the rest of his war in a POW camp in Germany. He now looks after his disabled wife. Bloody hero. Long may they be honoured.

Avro Lancaster Flight from Transgressive Media on Vimeo.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Police "Pay and Perks", vfm and the Scramble for a `By`-Line

After a short break from posting anecdotes and the occasional bit of spleen-venting I have been moved to switch on my computer and tap out some assorted words, randomly arranged in the hope that some sentences may actually string together. Well, the little green light is on and the valves have warmed up* (*It's an old-guy thing; you youngsters wouldn't understand - but valves aren't affected by an EMP so there's sense in old technology).

I picked up on a short piece in The Times yesterday. Those of you who subscribe to that paper's online reading fees can read it here. I don't subscribe yet so I bought the paper - how quaint. The article made quite a lot of sense, but I expect similar pieces in the more strident, tatty, tabloids will gloss over the truths behind such lines as, "Others can earn four hours overtime for taking a phone call when off-duty".  I'm sure the big-hitter police bloggers will already be responding to this sort of thing in their own style, so I have taken a more personal slant on what these articles mean to me.

In my thirty year stint in community protection and service I earned overtime, had my rest days regularly cancelled at short notice, got paid my allowance for extra food when I'd worked said overtime and finally took my pension, the one that is often flagged up as a good`un, but which cost me a very hefty chunk of my monthly pay, over the aforementioned 30 years. I always thought I'd had a fairly easy time as I'd never been hospitalised for more than an overnight observation and I'm still pretty healthy and active. But then something happened that made me reflect on my survival. I recently had cause to go through my medical records and found things in there that I had completely forgotten. There are many others out there, police pensioners like me, who probably have had it much worse, but here is a little extract from mine. There are others, but I didn't want to go on about it:

     `Hit on rt. heel by paving slab`
This was at a large demonstration in central London, following the “Bloody Sunday” shootings in Londonderry. I was in a cordon across Downing Street at about 7.30pm when rioting started amongst the 5000+ crowd. They were breaking up paving stones and hurling them into the police lines. I was rescuing a downed colleague when I was hit by a lump of paving stone. Got a badly swollen foot.

L Hand; L shoulder was twisted backwards….`
This happened when I`d stopped a stolen car. The occupants attacked me as they attempted to escape. I believe the vehicle clipped me as they decamped but can’t be sure. I may have had a few days off, but nothing of significance beyond that. Ironically, a close friend and colleague was involved in a similar incident a few months earlier. He was killed. I was lucky.

       `Attended  Hospital Casualty on …..`
I was in plain clothes as part of an armed observation team at  tube stations because some IRA bombers M.O. pattern at that time suggested they were using the tube. We were chasing two men with a holdall. As I ran down the steps I tripped and fell the last few and jarred my lower back. My Walther pistol also fell, from its holster, and slid along the platform, which had the effect of clearing all the sober people from the scene very quickly.

  `Kicked in scrotum around 5pm yesterday….`
I remember it well! Attempting to arrest a very violent man, who was threatening people with a knife. He almost choked me unconscious but I got some help from a huge, Barbadian hot dog seller who bent this man in all sorts of horrible positions on my behalf. The notes say I had a stiff lower back and a bruised right shoulder, along with the tender parts. I only recall the latter. Had a week off. No after effects.

        `Motorcycle injury` 
I remember it well. On a police motorcycle. The engine seized, locking the rear wheel, causing me to leave the road and land on the grass verge. Taken to hospital as precaution, because my back hurt. Notes refer to general backache including R trapezius (the large muscle centre/upper back). As I recall it hurt when I took a deep breath. Full recovery after a couple of weeks. It was the bike that was retired.

   `Injury to back, assaulted in police station`
I cannot remember how this happened except to say that there were always fights in charge rooms and by this time I was a patrol/charge room sergeant. Just another back strain from a punch up. Normal for the job.

     `Seen at police stn by Dr....`
Dr ...was a retained `police surgeon`. I had been kicked in the groin again, during yet another struggle with a violent prisoner, and Doc was on hand and so was able to examine me. Notes suggest no blood in urine so I suppose I was ok. Must remember to keep groin out of the way.

      `Pain Rt trapezium and neck. Injury x 2 during past 4 months`
I cannot recall these. At this time I was an instructor at the force training school and this was just after the miners strike so I was definitely `non operational`. I was playing sports and regularly weight training 3 times a week. I do, however, remember the medication. Diazepam and Dyhydrocodeine. Doc told me to take one of each immediately I got home but to be sitting down when I did. I thought she was joking as she was quite a sport, but the effect was quick and I was flat out, floating 2 feet above the bed, feeling no pain. What a combo, but avoid Jack Daniels chasers.

`Beaten up at weekend, seen at casualty A&E
Remember it well.  I was attacked and repeatedly kicked in my mid to lower back, forcing me to release my prisoner to defend myself. They then decamped and I pursued one of them who, at a distance of about 20 feet, turned and hurled a piece of rubble, which struck me on the head. I suffered concussion and a badly bruised middle and lower back and was off sick for a few weeks. No occupational health then. This injury is still with me, over 20 years later.

Pain in back/l shoulder
           Can’t remember what this was about specifically, other than I would get neck pain occasionally. This      was later put down to my pelvis being slightly out of alignment, the most likely cause being a previous assault . By now I was nearly 41 years old. I had previously, as a sergeant,  been a firearms tactical team leader, trained to hostage rescue capabilities. I had also been involved, both strategically and tactically, in large-scale public order operations. For tactical firearms operations I would, where appropriate, have to carry a firearm and other tactical equipment for personal protection. Regulations required me to regularly pass the firearms officers physical fitness qualification quarterly, a vigorous test involving a high level of upper body strength and general fitness.  I received quite a few knocks and strains during this period and cannot remember any that caused me to take time off work, but I would get the worst ones looked at as a precaution. This note on my records was probably one of those. A firearms response officer does this kind of work voluntarily. There is nothing in the regulations that says you must carry a firearm in the course of your duties (yet).

Walking back down this particular stretch of memory lane was not a nice experience for me. It was the first time I had ever done such a thing. Seeing a written record of a particular aspect of one's life, seeing in black and white your own diary written by someone else and then to suddenly realise that there were so many more occasions when you took hits which required a few days off but where you didn't actually bother to see a doctor, was actually a bit of a shock. So when I saw those articles in the press, telling of all the `perks` and allowances the police get, I just felt the mild urge to publish a little peek behind my own particular scenes. 

There will always be those who will strive to be challenged, to be tested, to be the best they can be, just as there will always be those who just strive to be paid the most they can get in return for the minimum of effort and the most mediocre of service provision. The former must be protected and rewarded, not flushed away in the same dirty bathwater as the latter.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Holiday Memoirs, September, 2010

Dog on the dole subjected to psychological cruelty in West Yorkshire

Frustration in Suffolk. The driver of this `Supermini` left it thus, after 10 attempts to park it close to the kerb. Immediately afterwards, a bloke got in the car behind it and drove off. I thought it was all part of a cruel hoax. Why is there never a double decker bus, to emphasise a point, when you need one?

On this ridge, on the Suffolk coast, there  once stood a hamlet, now washed away into the North Sea. The last house washed away in the 1920's. All that stands there now are people  taking photographs of the village that isn't there any more and a Martello Tower, built to repel a French Invasion that never came, thanks to our dear Lord Nelson and a bloke who had boots named after him (Not Dr Marten)

View from the table in a restaurant..... which is a Norfolk.......oh to live in a country that embraces diversity

This is an Estate Agent's office in a town in Suffolk. I knew the housing market was slow, but this really did make me realise the seriousness of the current economic state of the bloody country.

Now here, the parking was straight (if half on the pavement),but the house was a tad off centre. You can't win. However, there is a reasonable excuse; this town was built just before the invention of the spirit level. In those days `spirit levelling` involved the burning of witches. I believe the will to perform this barbarous act is still out there amongst some of our population. Thank goodness it is now illegal, I mean, think of the risk to all those wooden buildings.

I've had a few of these over the years, but thankfully only one nasty one.

Peace on Earth - and the final resting place of a Bentley Boy.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Blitz on Britain

On the 70th Anniversary of the start of the Blitz on London, my thoughts turn to my late Father who was a bus driver for London Transport during those awful years. He regaled me with stories of incendiary bombs bursting around him and his double-decker bus as he weaved his way around the Capital. On one occasion he told me that London Bridge was on fire, or at least the wooden sleepers that lined the carriageway in those days. He was caught halfway across and so just `put his foot down` to hammer through the flames. He chanced a glance behind him to see all the passengers doing their best to hide under the seats. He told me that it sounded like a rushing express train as he hit the wall of flames, which opened up and then slapped shut as his bus passed through the inferno. There were many more stories of `dodging around bomb craters and partially collapsed buildings and one occasion where a Heinkel 111 bomber, crippled by the RAF or Anti Aircraft gunners, flew smoking and low along the river, it's crew machine gunning one of his mates who died in the ensuing inferno. When his body was recovered they found a solid lump of coins that had melted in his pockets as he died in the blazing cab. Many more of his colleagues were killed during the Blitz. But London and the rest of the Country kept on going or, `buggering on` as Winston would have said. Dad joined the Home Guard. I think all that must have affected him because post war, and post the arrival of Hogday jnr., he always seemed to drive me around in the family car like he was still dodging craters and German bombs! Or perhaps all bus drivers were trained to drive that way?

So why is it that today, one road traffic accident on the M6 motorway on a Friday afternoon, stops the entire country from moving at more than 3 mph?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A good case for the defence?

I know little about professional footballers and their antics on or off the pitch but I do know a lot about defence solicitors and how they can pull an acquittal seemingly out of thin air. So I have taken my brain down old memory lane and think I've come up with a likely scenario that a certain footballer's brief can put forward in his defence.I definitely think it has legs

"Your Honour, my client was merely mistaken as it was his intention to use a prosthetic, whislt his wife was pregnant.  His demise was due to nothing more than an unfortunate printing error and a mispronunciation, owing to a rather thick scouse accent". 

Over the years I've seen loads of magistrates fall for far less.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

My kind of town?

This almost seems my kind of place....but something tells me its doomed.Best hope the humans don't breed like the flies.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Guns in our society and guns in other societies - one perspective

In the wake of the Northumbrian and Cumbrian shootings, much blog-debate took place on issues surrounding firearms in society, the general arming of police throughout the UK, the availability of firearms for lawful use by UK citizens and the enforced removal of said firearms from the ownership of certificated, gun owning, UK citizens in the wake of `Dunblane`.  For some reason, it is the United States situation that always seems to be flagged up as a comparison with the UK.

Suzanna Gratia-Hupp, whose parents were killed by an insane gunman is shown, above, in theembedded video, delivering her testimony to a committee discussing further gun control.  She is from the State of Texas. I make no further comment on what she says, other than to say that she said it with remarkably controlled conviction and that it allows us a peek into aspects of life and attitudes to gun control in America, that we might otherwise be unaware of.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Princess for a Day


Over the years I've seen quite a few weddings, latterly from both sides of these events. As a kid growing up in the fifties I  recall attending family weddings and having a great time running around the reception venue and sliding across dance floors like a sweaty loon. With much pleasure, I can say that the happy couples from those family weddings I remember attending as a small child are still together, a testament to love, affection, courage and patience and doubtless many other virtues, as well as a dollop of good luck.  

I have very recently started to experience  the eye-watering costs that can be expended on the 21st Century version of these  `big days` as well as some very interesting facets of human behavior, that include the following observations: 

  • The brides female friend/bridesmaid etc who usually ends up in floods of tears, as other gals gather round to offer support, advice and, in a couple of cases, make snide remarks to each other out of the poor victims earshot. 
  • The regular crowds of young women that attend in evening `attire` that always seems to consist of dresses where their arse hangs out below the hemline and their tits are crammed into what remains of the material at the other end. I reckon they must use something called a `boob-horn` to get them in, oh and tottering about in shoes like bricks on stilts - the sort I used to see as I walked past Soho sex shops (bondage section) in my beat-pounding days in central London.
  • The sight of `cultured` invited guests and family members turning into horrid, voracious creatures when they suddenly discover that the groom's Dad has stuck £2 grand behind the bar. The mad scramble reminding me of scenes from the film "Zulu" when the warlike hoards, baying for British blood, rush the barricades as the gallant few do and die for Queen and Country. If you want to see how quickly civilisation breaks down, just announce there's a free bar. If you want a generally nice evening, do not make this announcement.
  • Seeing the £2 grand behind the aforementioned bar disappear in less than an hour, along with what little decorum was left, when left to the mercy of people who could well have been the Scottish Olympic drinking team..
  • The smacked-up female guest, pilfering from the handbags of her other friends because she needs to fund another hit, downtown, later that evening. (FFS, who invited her??)
  • A fist fight breaking out between bride and her sister over god knows what.
  • And not forgetting the genuinely lovely people who want to see their nearest and dearest have a wonderful day that they can cherish for hopefully more than a couple of years.
  • PS: What do you call someone with syphilis, gonorrhea and herpes? An incurable romantic.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

We're ACPO.... trust us

"I followed ACPO guidelines and grassed up the bloke at the end of the street. He fitted the profile, kept himself to himself  (a bit of a loner) was polite but `distant`, loved his mother, I mean she even lived with him. Trouble is I now believe think I got it ever so slightly wrong and wish to make an amendment -  I don''t think he's a terrorist, I now think he's just a paedophile, released less than halfway through a seven year sentence. Can my retraction be acknowledged, in writing, please?"

Monday, 26 July 2010

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The choice of life or death

I watched the puke inducing video recording on Sky News, of the ex gf of the Northumbrian murderer. She was weeping and wailing all over her hospital bedsheets.  Not that I'm unsympathetic to anyone who has been shot by a nutter, but this case, with its tawdry backdrop, was a bit too much for me. I noticed the `News of the World Exclusive` logo in the corner of the screen, so I guess the ex gf had no choice but to play along for the cash she'd negotiated with this Sunday `news` paper. I wish the bulletin had been preceded by a warning of its sources so that I could have switched channels, but it was too late, I'd already been `mooned`.

I then read the news stories about the use of the Taser by the police on the surrounded killer and how it hadn't yet been approved by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (although there was no mention of their backlog of things awaiting their analysis and approval - that would be an interesting study all of its own). Coupled with this were the questions about whether or not the Tasers deployed, caused him to shoot himself or not.

I searched for any comments from the official side about the use of lethal vs sub-lethal force and offering points for the news-starved public to ponder. Couldn't find any. It seems that either the official side (police, Home Office, ACPO) couldn't find anyone to state a case of options or they were hiding behind the sub judice rules and their own secret policy on the police use of firearms. Either way, the same old problem remained, a stony silence in the face of not unreasonable questions that leads the great unwashed to draw its own inexorable conclusions of `cover-up`, `conspiracies of silence` and acquiescence of the authorities by that very silence.

Nothing did I find that attempted to explain a little of the possible processes that were being played out in the final hours, from the perspective of those police officers whose duty it was to bring the situation to as peaceful a conclusion as practicable, based on the over riding principle that they were there to do three things, in this order;
1. Protect the public;
2. Protect themselves;
3. Without compromising 1&2, protect the suspect.

From my perspective, points 1&2 were always perfectly clear, although I occasionally found myself in situations where they actually changed places, almost imperceptibly but on one occasion, quite positively. Either way for me, points 1&2 were always, at best, neck and neck. So I'll cut out  any philosophical and hypothetical arguments and try to stick with the simple, aforementioned 3 point principle.

The killer with the shotgun and the psych problem was finally contained by officers from the tactical firearms unit and their support services. These people were the inner cordon, through which no one would pass, in either direction, without their say so. He was under constant observation by armed officers by way of direct eye contact, through rifle scopes and supporting spotters with night vision capability, by cctv with night vision. They were close enough to hit him with either lethal or sub-lethal munitions. Point 1 covered.

They had body armour, ballistic shields and helmets, close support from the Dog Section, technical services, negotiators and snipers, latterly referred to by the arguably less emotive term `riflemen`, although the `men` seems now to have been removed so as not to clash with the diktats of the diversity unit - these people are not to be messed with either. Personally, I find `sniper` to be a fitting, non-gender specific term that may well have a comeback. The only problem, that in my experience the people at the very tip of the sharp end have great difficulty in working around, is the long screwdriver - interference from the highs of the hierarchy, who want to tinker with tactics from afar. Tactics are real-time entities and demand swift, sound judgement. Strategy is something set from the outset, broad based until it moves closer to the end-game, where it must defer to the judgment, interpretation, leadership and courage of those charged with its doing. To be fair, strategists need courage too, but it's the courage of their own conviction that what they created and signed off, was the best they could come up with. Strategy can be changed, but not at the sharp end when you are staring down the barrel at life and death, either of which could be your own. So, with some qualification, Point 2 covered.

The suspect sits within the inner cordon, gun to his head. Negotiators negotiate, spotters observe and report, firearms teams stand-to, ready to stop an escape and an atrocious crime (another death). They can do many things but they cannot know what the suspect will do, after all they are not mind readers and, obvious though this may sound, the suspect never attends the police briefing so never follows the script. If he points his weapon at them they have a decision to make, is my or my colleagues life in immediate danger? If they know for sure that everyone is behind bullet resistant cover and that their colleagues behind them in the outer cordon have done their jobs, then they can weigh up the decision of whether to shoot, or not, more easily. They may even have the time to decide whether to try using a sub-lethal munition. Of course these are never 100% certainties and so lethal force must still be there, shoulder to shoulder with them. But they do not act alone. They must communicate. There must be co-ordination. Wherever possible, the tactical commander must minimise the number of officers surrounding the suspect to avoid confusion because the decision to fire a weapon in such circumstances is up to individual officers. Why? Because of individual perception. Six people can witness the same incident but will not always perceive the same threat. This is close quarter stuff, not an artillery bombardment to neutralise half an acre.

Time drags on and the suspect's behaviour and mental state is still up and down like a yo-yo. He shouts, screams, waves his gun about, goes silent for long periods, he is highly unpredictable. Here is a man who could well want to provoke a shooting by police so as to cement his own self-image as a legend in his own lunchtime. All the psychologists have already said this, through the media, and I have no doubt that the police have considered this a very real possibility also. Suddenly, he goes into a state that gives officers the concern that he is about to end his life, imminently. So many options, so little time. If they do nothing, he could calm down again. If they do nothing he could blow his own head off. If they do nothing he could fire in their direction (but if they remain behind their ballistic shields they stand a very good chance of remaining uninjured). If he kills himself in front of the worlds TV cameras, how does this sit with Point 3? They have a duty to safeguard  the suspect, after Points 1&2 have been covered. They have Tasers that incapacitate, but there is also a chance he might release the trigger during the muscle spasms that Taser causes. Whatever they do or don't do, this suspect has already put his life at great risk by placing a loaded shotgun to his head. Triggers are very light. He has already been very lucky not to have shot himself accidentally.

He could put the gun down and give up; he could get up and walk towards the police lines carrying his gun, whereby he would be Taser'd and/or shot by lethal force, because he was coming close to encroacing on Point 2 of the officers' duty; or he could simply behave in such a manner that gave officers real fears that he was imminently about to take his own life and so their only chance of trying to stop him was to use Taser and  hope that it would cause him to drop the weapon. Point 3 covered.

So where was the ACPO spokesperson to step up to the plate, stand by their own policy document and, without giving away tactical doctrine, just answer a few simple questions?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Media Take on Northumbrian Fugitive Aftermath

Based on some of the horseshit I've read in the papers, following the end of  the Northumbrian manhunt and the priceless, pointless follow-up `human interest angles` that our finest journo's have been chasing at the behest of their subs`, I suggest you save yourselves the bother and just watch the below. Pretty much sums it all up for me...

Monday, 5 July 2010

Going Dutch on arming the police

Once again we have a gunman at large, bent on killing, but on this occasion he seems to be much more discriminating as opposed to the still very recent Cumbrian indiscriminate murder spree. And we can call the latter `murder`, only because the killer was never tried and therefore was denied the chance of being found guilty of the lesser charge of `Manslaughter` on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

I was up early this morning, which was odd as I didn't get in bed until 2am having had a slamming evening's work that left me with the `thousand yard stare` and an addled brain. It was that same addled brain that got me up at 6am and I spent the time wisely, drinking tea and reading some of my favourite blogs. As expected, the Polis flavoured variety are all commenting on the Northumbria gunman who, as I tap this out, is still `at large` and putting innocent lives at great risk of being snuffed out in the blink of an eye and the twitch of a finger on a trigger. Once again, I suspect the weapon will be a shotgun, based on the bitty facts as released in the news media. The blog debates are once again buzzing with the subject of arming our police, the ills of our society, its laws, its judicial system, Kenneth Clarke and penal policy. Time for Cleggeron and the team to be wise, again. We await their brief with interest.

When I studied for my degree, I spent time looking at the Dutch criminal justice and prison system. The Dutch have, arguably, one of the most liberal of democracies in Europe. The Dutch invented probation, back in the 1800's. They are a small country, about the size of Wales. They are highly sophisticated in their outlook on life, the universe and everything. Their police force consists of a two-tier system of direct senior officer` entry, where after a spell at the police college in Apeldoorn, a graduate can start their police career at inspector rank. The sharp enders start, like us in the UK, by joining as Pc's and can progress to senior sergeant and can then be selected for promotion through the glass ceiling and join their direct entry, fast track colleagues, albeit with much greater street experience.

They also had an interesting attitude to the use of force. They had these amazing lightweight public order vehicles, made out of a type of plastic, but fire resistant. They called them `Tupperware vans`. I was impressed at how well protected they seemed to be, yet they looked so innocuous. I was on foot patrol with a senior sergeant in a suburb of Amsterdam. We stopped for an ice cream and stood on a street corner eating our cones. He had his hat off in the heat of the day, hooking it onto his very nifty 9mm Walther P6 pistol that sat on his belt, along with his cuffs and CS.  I asked him about his rules of engagement re the use of his pistol. He said it was based on the premise that he was to do all he could to preserve life and that he could use his pistol as a warning. I then showed him an ASP baton that I was hoping to persuade my force to adopt (successfully, as it turned out) and he said, "Hogday, put that away please, its an offensive weapon". We both saw the amusing irony of the moment we were in. Him with his gun, gas and ice cream, worried about me holding an extendable baton and a Mister Softee `99`.

I said that in the UK, we only drew our firearm from its holster if we intended to use it. He asked me what I would do if a man was coming for me or an MoP armed with a big knife or a sword. I said I would draw my weapon, warn the person, if I considered I had the time, and then if he failed to comply I would shoot at him and continue to do so until I perceived he was no longer a threat. He was amazed that I would not try to shoot him in the legs first. I explained that in the UK (at that time - 1991) we took the view that if potential lethal force was required, then potentially lethal it would have to be and that I couldn't guarantee public safety with stray rounds passing through his legs and skipping off the pavement into some passing child in a buggy. I also told him of some of the knife attacks I had been shown in my personal defence and firearms training and that I, for one, would not be pissing about with anyone wielding a knife and especially a sword - a case of `the gun is mightier than the sword, but only if you can get off accurate shots before the bastard closes the gap`. Vive la difference?

Their attitude to crime and the criminal is also very interesting. I was attending a presentation at their police staff college (senior officers) on criminality, its causes and cures. At the end of the session, the lecturer, a Professor, asked us UK guys a very interesting question; "What criminological theory do you base your juvenile cautioning policy on?"  It was then that I really knew I was in a strange land indeed.

Monday, 28 June 2010

ACPO support, Trading Standards and a funeral

I've just read Crime Analysts latest post about the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Bizarre though this may seem,  it immediately put me in mind of the traveller git and his ilk who, several times a year, parks his tranny van and deluxe caravan on a pristine roadside verge a couple of miles up the road from here, for about 10 days at a time.

The white Ford Transit van disappears before dawn and doesn't reappear until after dark. Sometimes its gone for a couple of days. A female-type thing remains on site, in the caravan, dining outside on a picnic table if weather permits. They seem to live quite well as it is a very nice caravan and the tranny van seems brand new. I presume the bloke nips back from time to time to feed her. As the days drift by, several piles of shite appear adjacent to his `campsite` that include broken up lumps of concrete, smaller pieces of rubble, piles of topsoil, old washing machines and other domestic human detritus. Then these people suddenly vanish, leaving the verge looking like a scene of post apocalyptic earth, the sort of scene you'd see in films like `Terminator`. Then, after a few days, the Borough Council come along and remove it, making a very good effort at returning the verge to its natural, green and pleasant state.

For anyone unfamiliar with this sort of  entrepreneurial activity I'll explain. The git in the van has been knocking on doors in the area offering all sorts of `services` that would have included removing unwanted rubbish and laying a new, hastily mixed and seriously sub-standard tarmac driveway. The victims are usually, but not always, the elderly or vulnerable. For those who have been taken in by his blarney, there would have been a fee for this service that is always way in excess of the shabby job done.  He doesn't take the rubble and crap he's dug out to the local amenity dump like a registered trader would, because he'd be charged for the use thereof, so he dumps it on the side of the road to let the council foot the bill. Its brilliantly simple. He effectively gets paid twice for doing a crap job, has no responsibility to the locality or the poor customer he has duped and, when he moves on, the locals pick up the bill for cleaning up the crap he has left in his wake and the poor punter who paid for the `service` in the first place is well and truly shafted.

During my latter years in the police, I would occasionally ponder on my mortality. It happens as one gets older and nothing tends to focus one's mind more sharply that when one attends the funeral service of a colleague. As in every such event, the younger the late departed was, the harder the slap in the face it gives you. It came to a point where I just didn't want to go to any more, but I did, taking the view that funerals are really for the living and I wanted to be there to show the loved ones of the person I served with that I respected them. Strange as this might seem, but I once said to Mrs Hogday that in the event of my death, in service, it was my strong desire to have no one from the ACPO (SMT) group of my force present - and I meant absolutely none. My reasons were simple; they meant nothing to me, they did nothing for me and the only time I really could have done with their support, it wasn't there - in bucketloads.

So there you have it. I still find it a little odd that Analyst's article on ACPO should flash up the image of the traveller up the road and my thoughts on my own service funeral, but it did.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Keep it simple, stoopid

Today is my birthday. I started it late last night when I rode home from work on my beloved Harley Davidson (having had lunch provided by a gracious  Lord of the Realm) to find a bottle of Jim Beam waiting for me on the table, courtesy of the sexydelicious Mrs Hogday. That's the way I like to warm up for a birthday. This morning I'm having mushrooms on toast watching a DVD of John Fogerty live the The Royal Albrt Hall. Later we scoot off into the wilds of Northumbria and will hear some live Irish Folk music near "Hogwarts"  tonight. Deep joy. Every day should be like this.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Rally to the Colours

Must dash. I'm off to meet HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, ceremonial Head of The Yorkshire Regiment.  I will be wearing my Help for Heroes badge with pride.

(Can't hang about as I am charging £10 an hour and want to give the maximum VFM)