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 clapping....us.....which 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 boots....in 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.