Thursday, 28 June 2012

Way out, >this way > old fella

In my latter decade in the police I was occasionally thought of by the ` bright young graduate entry fast trackers to senior officerhood` as being a bit of a relic. 
I mean, on some warrants I'd actually consider the first option as being a covert approach to the building (all exits covered) followed by a Mk.1 knock on the door. You'd be surprised how many folks actually answer a knock on the door or a ring of their doorbell at a reasonable hour and they always looked more shocked to see us than when we took the door off its hinges with a `7 kilo door key`. For some reason, the graduate entry young pretenders always looked disappointed when the former happened. So I felt a certain empathy with the guy in the attached Daily Mail story albeit he deserves his bird.
Nothing like an old fashioned knotted sheet and a full frontal wall scaling to show the youngsters how to do it. (What's the betting some graduate entry suggests he must've had the latest iPhone `Prison Break` App.)

A debt of official thanks is paid - long overdue

But still a twinge of a whinge from the BBC. This really does, for me, drive home that quote from an unknown British warrior, "When the lead starts flying, you're not fighting for Queen or Country, you're fighting for your mates all around you".

Sky News covered it thus:

The World War II Bomber Command Memorial is officially opened, today, Thursday June 28th,  

Friday, 15 June 2012

You meet the nicest people - wearing lycra

25 years ago I got a bit of a kicking in the line of duty. The perpetrators were never caught despite the best efforts of a mate of mine who was the detective allocated to the case. We knew where they lived - in the largest concentration of social housing in Europe - but we didn't have enough info for one warrant let alone 25,000. The incident is just another story of a couple of shits who got away with assaulting a copper. The incidents that led up to it and my hilarious, semi-concussed actions in its aftermath are far more interesting than the twenty seconds that left me with an injury I would carry into retirement, but that yarn will have to wait.

That assault resulted in my pelvis being knocked a couple of degrees out of whack which wasn't discovered until ten years later, by which time my force had got itself into occupational health, but too late for me and my numerous bouts of neck and shoulder pain.
Pelvis injury = neck/shoulder problems? Yup, its all to do with the torsion of the spine, see?  This wasn't obvious to me at the time, because I was the sort of stone age bloke who, if he got a pain in the neck, assumed that he had a problem in the neck area. So anyway, the newly educated me had his pelvis re-seated by the doctor's resident physio and thereafter I had to adjust all sorts of things, including my gait which had taken on an almost imperceptable change to compensate for the change in my geometry. I was going to have to re-set my gyro's, break long term habits of poor posture and re-educate lazy muscles. Re-booting a PC! ( I was actually an inspector by then but the booting/computer pun doesn't work so well)

I noticed a difference almost immediately and the stiff necks and shoulders were banished for months until one day I lifted a bag of sugar off a low shelf and, ouch, the familiar stabbing pain in the lower back. This time I saw a sports physiotherapist that my daughter had used. The chap was ex Royal Navy and brilliant. He warmed me up, rolled me over and bent me into position 136 (don't ask) before fooling me into thinking he was going to push when in fact he shoved. There was a rumbly, crunchy sound from deep within my pelvic area like I'd just rolled over onto a paper bag full of walnuts and suddenly I was no longer in pain. I could have kissed him, but he settled for 25 quid and a handshake.

Before I skipped sprightly from his clinic he asked me if I'd heard of Pilates. "Yes, ladies in lycra" I replied. "Well it was originally bedridden soldiers" he said, "the ladies in lycra didn't catch on for decades - take my advice, do it". So I did and fifteen years later I still am. I still have the occasional visit to a chiropractor for a check-up and the odd bit of remedial work when I've forgotten the rules of posture and the physics of correct lifting technique but, I'm telling you, that little German guy knew his stuff. Co-incidentally, he used to be a self defence trainer at Scotland Yard before World War 1, but unfortunately his pupils at The Yard had to intern him during those hostilities. Thankfully they remained friends and he made another good decision in emigrating to America before the Nazi's initiated Round 2.

So there I was yesterday afternoon at my Thursday Pilates class. There is always a real eclectic mix wherever I've practiced. All shapes, sizes and ages, but with few exceptions all very keen to `stay with the programme`, both versions.  I've got used to being the token bloke in the classes I've attended over the years, rarely has there been more than three of us amongst the female majority. I have to say that at no time have the ladies ever made me feel that I was the only man in the class, something I doubt would be reciprocated were the situation to be reversed (especially if the woman was as young and attractive as me). Yesterday afternoon one of the ladies started chatting to me before the coach called us to order. I'd seen her before but not to speak to, as she is often absent for several weeks. I mentioned this to her and she told me that she was off again next week for a while. She's flying to Ethiopia where she trains local nurses. You meet the nicest, most unexpected people whilst  on your back, waving your legs about and wearing lycra.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The truth, in all its gory

I could never understand the flap some of my old colleagues in the police used to get into when they were waiting to give evidence in a case where they had to use force in order to effect the arrest or to defend themself in so doing. The fact is that the act of making an arrest is an assault in itself, however low down that scale it happens to be.

Over the years I spent in the job I arrested more people than I can put a face or name to. A very few of those people were actually innocent, my arrest being based on the reasonable suspicion I had at the time. I was always happy to let an innocent person go free as soon as all the facts were known. "Fitting people up" was something I never did and, hand on heart, my conscience is clear in that respect. I never put an innocent person before the courts.

As far as hitting someone, well I did that a fair number of times as well. I was always happy to say so and to explain why. On one occasion in a magistrates court in the county force I also worked in, a defence solicitor got in early with the bit about how I had used excessive force on his client. He told the court in a faux-shocked manner, that I had punched his client full in the face and went on to put it to me thus, "Officer, I put it to you that you punched my client in the face".  I was happy to correct him and explained to the magistrates that in fact I'd actually punched his client twice, very hard, once in the solar plexus and once on the jaw in a left-right combination. I went on to tell them that this was all I could do to supress his violent behaviour towards me in what was a fast moving situation, that had I more time I would probably have drawn my baton and that the defendant was fortunate I didn't have that option otherwise he could well have received a more serious injury.

Telling the truth means you haven't got to try so hard to remember.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Its all in the genes

I met a very interesting chap in a Suffolk pub last night, but more of that later. I'd been listening to a talk in the local church by an expert on Heraldry. It has a language all of it's own for sure. Heraldry really brings it home that, in those days of yore, it wasn't about what you were, but who you were, that got you up the ladder of wealth, power and respectability in the world. You could be a total duffer but providing you came from the right family you'd have respect, political clout and a long line of suitors wanting to marry you. Thank goodness it's all changed nowadays because now, if you have too much power and wealth, all you end up with is a news empire and an invitation to give evidence at the Leveson Enquiry.

However, there was a downside. When I got home I got out the computer and a calculator and worked out that if Richard the Third had won the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and all his descendants had behaved themselves, there was a good chance that today, I'd be Queen.

As for the chap I met in the pub, he was an ex met police officer who joined about ten years before me but served on my old division. He was in the mounted branch but only served seven years before changing career. His father, however, did make a full career out of the Met. He featured prominently in this book. We'll be keeping in touch. Amazing who you can end up chatting to in a small pub in an even smaller village, when all you expected was to learn a bit about Heraldic symbology. It was a fortuitous meeting for sure.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Want a Guy? Get a Pie

Had enough of the food police? Sick of Delia, Jamie and Hugh Sternley Dickingtonfield?

Cop a load of JCC (this one's for Dagenham Dave (Pie and Mash) stuck out in Tennessee without an Eel Bar for miles.

I thought it was broke

I thought the new(ish)  flat screen TV was broke. "It's a bloody Panasonic", I thought, "They don't break down" But there it was, the same thing I saw the other day, the other week, the other month. The same quiet geezer with specs, the same questions, the same interviewees, the same squirming, smiling, fidgeting, memory loss, quivering bottom lips, the same, same, same. It was still bloody there yesterday, every day.....for ages. Had someone at TV central forgot to change a tape?

My mistake, it was the Levinson Enquiry. I was so relieved.