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.
                                                                                            



19 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

"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"

Hehe!

Great post Mr H. Yesterday's riot was symbolic of the "me" culture that has developed. That there are so many people willing to roll out and defend the children who were burning and smashing things is just depressing.

The current set of kids are probably the richest, most free generation to have ever walked this Earth. And yet that is not enough.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Dear Mr Blue, please find enclosed one vote.
Yours etc,
Hogday

Encl: `X`

JuliaM said...

"... 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."

Brilliant anecdote!

JuliaM said...

"...That there are so many people willing to roll out and defend the children who were burning and smashing things is just depressing."

I don't think there really are so many, it's just that the noise they produce is out of all proportion to their numbers...

Hogdayafternoon said...

JuliaM: I swear it was even funnier `in the flesh`, but only once the shock-horror had subsided ;)

dickiebo said...

Your last para sums up my feelings perfectly!

TonyF said...

Brilliant post! I can imagine the feeling of dismay as the tramp pressed the button. At least he had manners, unlike the scum yesterday.


Now I have nothing against university, but they are not, sorry were not, the only option for a good education. Now correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't a qualification in aeronautics, for instance trump any degree in meeja studies? As a tax payer, I have no objection to subsidising quality education. This includes all education from Primary upwards. I see that recent stats put our education system somewhere near the bottom of world rankings.

http://burningourmoney.blogspot.com/2010/12/are-we-spending-too-much-on-education.html

Well worth a read, if your blood pressure can stand it.

As for these 'students' sod them, they don't deserve any of my money or sympathy. When I left school, I got a job.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Dickiebo: You, who have `been there` I salute.

TonyF: Too late, I read it despite your warning but I'm pretty much a regular 120/60 sort of guy! But already I hear that some demonstrator suffered a nasty head injury - surprising (not)when one considers where he was :-/ The precision guided truncheon has yet to be fully rolled out but I gather from the news footage last night that there are still models undergoing extensive trials. Incidentally, I've added a link in the post, to a story I found about Insp Jim Beaton (who I used to occasionally shoot with during our requals) and Princess Anne, if you're interested.

allcoppedout said...

Shame to say Hoggie, but I encouraged all my classes last week to get out on protest. Anything's better than teaching the little buggers, and it would help when marking comes around if the Met had thinned them out a bit! Blighters turned up in class to a man jack, so I had to work for my money. Life was so much easier when we could loiter about in shop doorways packing a gun!

JuliaM said...

"Anything's better than teaching the little buggers, and it would help when marking comes around if the Met had thinned them out a bit!"

:D

Hogdayafternoon said...

Archy`: I forgot to add that I would defend the right to protest and frequently did! The most unwelcome `thank you` I received was from some git from the national front. And as for that extra photo I've just added, what can one say, except, "All in all he's just a ` nother prick on the wall". According to his mothers blog he was 21 in October and they got him a nice Victorian writing desk, at his request.

allcoppedout said...

One of the tramps in one of my doorways turned out to be a sergeant on the RCS after a night on the tiles. No details on this one, other than to note his confusion on waking, fully clothed in the station house sauna.

sparkflash said...

If the country needs your degree - chemistry, engineering, mechanics, maths etc, then it seems reasonable to continue to support your education. If you wish to spend three years learning how to match cushions with sofas, then perhaps you can do it on your own dime.
The sad aspect is that I doubt any of the violent trouble-makers were genuine students.

sparkflash said...

Not wanting to hijack your blog, but felt this had some relevance.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/gurkha-obituaries/8199764/Havildar-Lachhiman-Gurung-VC.html

Blue Eyes said...

Sparkflash - when I was at "Yooni" studying cold hard science I did not have time to take a trip down to London Town for a day out. My course was pretty much 9-5 Monday to Friday!

sparkflash said...

I didn't actually have many lessons - they were really just pointers on what coursework we should be reading - but they still managed to spread them out over a week, making employment hard to find. I had to work nights in a distribution depot for one of the big shops, which, as you might imagine, pretty much shot down the idea of a social life, never mind heading up to London to piss and moan about not being able to have more of other peoples money.
Hey ho.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Sparkflash: In 1980, I was on an 8 weeks exchange in Michigan. I was told that in most industries a newbie would be expected to start on the lates/nights shift, no question. Impressive stuff. I question whether a newbie over here would be too happy about that. I recently heard one complaining of how he ached all over from his new `job` in a supermarket. I thought, `yup, thats what you get after a days work, dummy`.

And re your excellent link, yes, a Gurkha officer told me he'd received a request from one of his men who wanted to do a 24hrs-straight guard duty, at Buckingham Palace, without rest. The officer refused the request, because they'd all want to do it. Rare men indeed.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Would that have been with the Michigan State Police? The guys with the red Death Ray beacon on the roof?

Hogdayafternoon said...

Hi Scott! How's it going? No, I only met one State Trooper who was by then the Sheriff of Lapeer County. I spent a week in Flint and a couple of tours in Detroit. Spent a day with Port Huron PD, the tiny force of Imlay City and then over the bridge into Sarnia. The Chief then was a guy call Jack(?) Bruce, a real old Canadian redneck!