Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I was only following orders.......

I'vre read a few articles of late regarding the first wave of `slash and burn` from our new Government in respect of, amongst other things, the public sector. Of particular relevance to my previous life, is Steve, The Analyst's series on bonus payments for ACPO ranks and Insp Gadget's post today, about where the cuts may strike in his force of `ruralshire` and others across the land. I have little to add to these posts other than to acknowledge them here and commend them to others who may not ordinarily go there for a read.

All I feel I can add to these two good pieces at the moment, is my own immediate reaction to one small area, that was sparked by bullet point 4 of Gadget's post;   "The number of sick, lame and lazy officers and staff employed on the Crime Management Team, where the job could be done by one Sergeant, better computer processing and a shortened system. Nowhere for them to go". I responded to this by leaving a comment amongst the countless others he always gets, mostly from those very much affected by the debate he inititates. I will repeat it here as my closing two paragraphs from my ten pence worth contribution to what, ultimately, will be impacting heavily on police forces across the land.

When I know of dedicated officers who have paid heavily for their years of servce through injury or deteriorating health that is aggravated by their work and then hear of those disgraceful senior management `bonus schemes` that were ladled out by the previous administration, how they were lapped up without complaint and now hear the complaints that they didn't want them in the first place....it makes me want to read Steve's piece all over again, because it just doesn't seem real - although I know it is. I know where I'd want the bonus money to have gone. I am so glad I am no longer a part of that. I liked to be able to look my front line officers in the eye, as I encouraged them to do to me.

My brother in law is occasionally sick, but by no means lame or lazy. His condition hits him hard when it comes but before that happens he is probably one of the fittest officers in his force. He has 27 years front line service and in my era would by now have had his condition recognised as deserving of a well earned medical pension – but there’s another `target` to reduce these. As a young Met Pc trainee, on a tour of New Scotland Yard, I was amazed to see Information Room’s `walking wounded`, officers with missing eyes, cracked backs and other serious ailments that made them less able to perform street duties. yet in there they were kings of the airwaves and the best lifeline you could wish for when it was you out on the streets needing support and guidance.

We looked after our less physically able in those days. I would rather have any one of these officers watching my back, anytime, anywhere, in any frontline- supporting department, rather than the entire plethora of nebulous numpties that have infiltrated the nebulous numpty departments laughingly classified as `support`. So bring on the surgery as you must, wield the bloody knife, but please.... cut the crap.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Old Boys Still Have It

Just a weekend observation from the perspective of an old(ish) git.

Friday, got the train to London. Perfect timing, perfect service, clean, cool, smooth running train (East Coast Line).
A stroll down sunny Euston Road to take the overground to Wembley Central. I spy a poster of Ozzy trying to grab my attention. He succeeds as always. Oyster card had some credit on it so am doing alright. On the train had a jovial conversation with a South African living in Watford. Funny how tube conversations are still pretty much a no-no yet the overground versions seem to have slightly less restrictive norms. is it the fact that you can see the outside world and so get a greater sense of personal space?

Wembley Central at 3pm.  I breeze out of the station onto the High Street, my lightweight rucksack over my shoulder and baseball cap pulled on to keep the blazing sun off my bonce. Oh deary me. I seem to be in a street scene from, "Black Hawk Down" - minus any Black Hawks down or  US Rangers. Time for a decent beer methinks. I fight my way through the bazaar and, not seeing any pubs, fear that they too have succumbed to the change of scenery and I may end up in `sad central` ie drinking in the hotel bar. Then I spy `The Bear`. I step inside and it's an oasis and....deep joy...they serve Bombardier, a brew worth shelling out for. Down it goes, just brushing the sides.

I receive a text from Hogday jnr. who has got out at the other Wembley tube station, so I'm in the wrong place to meet him. Never mind, a ten minute stroll back through the `film set` will fix that. We RV at the hotel, in the shadow of Wembley Stadium, check in and then head straight back to The Bear for a couple more, as we catch up with each other.

Time is marching on and so should we. We speak to the friendly manager of the packed California Kitchen, a restaurant that is most def not of the local High Street variety we avoided. The lady fixed us up nicely and we ordered a Mexican pizza and a burger special. The pizza base was produced before our eyes and the beef was beef. I even order a glass of house red. Nice.

A ten minute walk up the road finds us in our seats among the faithful and the curious. Out they come at 8.15pm. Mr Steve Winwood,  Mr Eric `Slowhand` Clapton and their stonking band. We are treated to 2 hours of great blues and rock with an amazing version of Jimi H's `Voodoo Chile` thrown in for good measure.  A shot of `Cocaine ` (the JJ Cale variety) and it's all over. It was like time was suspended. We stroll back through the warm night air, sink one more brew in the hotel, head to our respective rooms and zonk.

Saturday morning and I can hear a sound from my past. I can hear a rowdy mob chanting `sheep shaggers, sheep shaggers`. Thinking I was hallucinating, I peeped outside and found the source of the battle cries. Cardiff City were playing Blackpool in the premiership playoff promotion thing and the fans from Lancashire, swigging down cans of lager at 9am, were greeting a passing group of Cardiff fans just in from the valleys. I thought the chanting a little off kilter and wide of the mark, because most folks I know from Cardiff wouldn't recognise a sheep if it fell out of a tree in front of them. The Blackpool lads must have mistaken them for folks from Bristol, who really do shag sheep.

We fought our way to the buffet breakfast. The hotel staff were slammed as the place had obviously filled up with football fans whilst we were being regally entertained the previous evening. We check out and escape to the relative sanity of central London. Have a stroll along the South Bank and grab some coffee, a rather fancy Cappuchino and an American and then another walk along the Thames eventually bidding our farewells on the concourse of Waterloo Station. I miss him already.

Train journey and hotel - £200. Tickets for Clapton and Winwood - a birthday gift from my son and daughter. A first class upgrade on my return train journey - £25. Spending a night out with my son - priceless.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Back - not in Black

Short breaks in distant places are good for the soul. The last time I had a break I came back refreshed and renewed and decided to reveal my true identity. Well it's happened again whilst I was away with the Greeks in Kefalonia. Despite fears of rioting and attacks on the government establishment we had a wonderful time amongst the wonderful Greek people. I don't know if it was anything to do with my prior preparations and my decision to go as the real me, changed from my previous alter-ego, but they treated us with the utmost respect, so much so that I came home feeling confident enough to reveal myself to my blogchums, right here, right now. Here goes... more pics to follow

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


With one day to the General Election and three days until we go on our holiday, I find that my eyes are rolling skywards more than usual because, in addition to the aforementioned, the wind direction is shifting Iceland's most infamous export back this way - but nil desperandum, we are looking forward to a week away.....in Greece..... that is if the air traffic controllers come back to work in time to let our plane (that may or may not take off on schedule) land..... so I thought I'd post the below now in case I don't get back before autumn:

The 2010 Washington Post's Yearly Neologism Contest

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its
yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative
meanings for common words. The winners are:

Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer
the door in your nightgown.

Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

Gargoyle (n), olive-flavored mouthwash.

Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over
by a steamroller.

Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you
die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post 's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any
word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one
letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright
ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign
of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject
financially impotent for anindefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person
who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit).

9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really
bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a
serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming
only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when
they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've
accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your
bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the
fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Bikers Are Voters!

So anyway, as I may have mentioned in previous posts, I'm a motorcyclist and have been so for about.. ahem... bloody years. They are a funny lot these bikers. I say `they` because, naturally, we never include ourselves when it comes to such personal observations about people who are, well, a bit odd. It's always `they, that lot, them`, although I've always believed that we're all someone's weird friend.

Over the weekend I decided to ride out to a rally organised by the Yorkshire Branch of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) - click on the MAG logo on the right if you want to know more about MAG. It was in the grounds of a fabulous old English medium sized stately home that, like all stately homes these days, have to diversify in order to pay the bills - I mean do you think they'd welcome hundreds of bikers, trade stands, beer tents, food outlets, comedy acts and live rock bands if they could afford not to? (Well actually, I believe most probably would now they've got to know us). As is always the case with these events, it passed off peacefully, without incident. The only police presence was a  local policewoman and her equally diminutive police community support officer...there to support her and us. To any overseas readers who don't know what a PCSO is, I'll just say that if you saw the two of them walking by, you wouldn't be able to tell which was the trained law enforcement officer and which wasn't, because they tend to be dressed exactly the same - could this have been some cruel Government hoax perpetrated on an unsuspecting electorate all those years ago? Either way, I offered to buy them both a cup of tea which was politely declined, with a cheery smile.
There was a `show what you rode in on` bike show and there were some rather interesting beasties on display. I took some photographs of their bikes and have posted them here for your entertainment. As it is the week of the general election I thought I'd try to categorise them as if they represented some of our political parties. It's not necessarily true or accurate, just a bit of fun. So have a look and see if you agree, disagree or perhaps have an observation of your own. 
The first picture, above, is, in my opinion, one of the few Honda Gold Wings I'd be prepared to photograph, It is clearly the utilitarian NuLabour vehicle of choice, i.e. not wishing to admit that, in its original form, it was very big, all enveloping, leaned well to the left when ridden by members who once aligned themselves with the Marxists (note Soviet markings) took up massive resources and catered for the riders every need, from child care (note bottles) to the grave (see the entrenching tool?). The reality is that its too big, too energy consuming and, just like its original version, way too plastic.

Above we clearly have a Cleggmobile. It's shouts, `I'm sleek and  I'm sexy and check out my lunchbox`. The problem is that the `lunchbox` is actually a Ducati motor that should not be in this frame at all. That motor may have serious short term grunt, but you'll find that you have to re-tune it after every third trip to the shops, plus it's actually Italian, and Cleggmobilers just don't know if they want to be sat astride  Italian, or French, or Belgian or Latvian or....well you get the picture. One other small point worth bearing in mind, would you really want to unleash all that horsepower whilst sat behind a front end that would simply go in any direction, despite you trying to steer it where you think you ought to be going? I mean, the thing doesn't even know where it's going to end up. I thought not. (PS. the brakes are iffy, too).
 Above left we have the `Triumph` of Conservatism! A great vintage,  been around for years, most older folks will usually reminisce with great affection for the old models, forgetting how they were occasionally left stranded at the side of the road without explanation. But they can still be quick and nimble - when its got the right rider (don't forget, Steve McQueen made his `Great Escape` bid on one). It's leaner and meaner than the other two and this one's definitely had a great restoration job done on it. I might even buy one myself. The only thing to watch out for is the little puddle of oil that will appear wherever you park it. And if you see one that hasn't deposited a small slick, it's probably recently arrived, so just wait a few minutes and, I guarantee, one will appear.

Well, what have we here? Well beyond the right of the Torymoto, it's an ugly spud for sure. Lights surrounded by wire mesh, a gas mask, a seat designed  for what could well be a masochist and little saddlebags that, unless I'm very much mistaken, are from an Army surplus store and previously used for keeping hand grenades in. Perhaps they still are? What could you possibly call a rough old dog like this? A Griffon (sic), maybe? It can't possibly be a BNPmobile because this one has an engine that is most definitely not British and is probably of Jap heritage. But then again it's often quite hard to draw a line on one's heritage when one comes from a mongrel nation like ours, although my line is ok for a good 300 years past. Still, you have to draw a line somewhere. Although I could ride it, I don't think I'd want to, at least not without a decent seat and a big dealer network.
So there you have my weekend with the bikers. Just after snapping those pictures I found myself in the beer tent, sipping a free pint of John Smith's courtesy of my MAG vouchers and just `people watching` the multitudes in garbs of leather and textile, bearded and clean shaven, tattoed and un-inked, pierced and puncture-free, young and old, able bodied and disabled (yes, there is a Disabled Riders Association, whom I salute) and even the Christian Bikers Association tea and coffee tent. There was a whiff of hot metal, petrol, engine oil, burgers, onions, organic healthy food, cannabis and tobacco ordinaire, along with the odour of beer and woodsmoke all carried along in a fresh stiff breeze. We must have appeared a strange band of brothers and sisters to the landowner who, with his young family, tried to stroll discretely around the site except that, dressed as they were, they were anything but discrete because in this venue, `country casual` stood out like a Bulldogs bollocks!
I quaffed at my ale with a feeling of quiet contentment. The beer tent's sound system was playing "Run To The Hills" by Iron Maiden. A cliche? Most definitely, but I although I was amongst people whose names I didn't know, I knew I could strike up a friendly conversation with the vast majority of them, based on little more than our common bond. It was a strange, eclectic mix, but I felt very comfortable and secure amongst this particular tribe of mine. A feeling that drifted quickly away as I left for home and re-joined the bigger tribe I feel increasingly less comfortable amongst.