Sunday, 23 December 2012

"Plebgate", "Dis'gate", "Bitchgate", "Comebackgate" "He said..they said.. yeah but no but yeah gate" - "Christmasgate?",anyone?

In my 30 years as a police officer I collected a few complaints, very few in fact. Some might argue that if you don't book or arrest anyone you'll never get a complaint - well that's probably true to a point, but then again every station has its `most complained about officer` who in my day was usually the one with the most arrests for obstructing/assaulting police. Whatever the arguments, there was always one's sergeant and inspector to ensure that all gladiators faced the games of the day or night well presented and with a cheerful chant of "Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant".

  The one complaint I always remember this time of year resulted from me covering that vital part of the service that has been progressively handed over to non-police employees, the place where impressions are formed and reputations won and lost, usually within minutes of each other. Of course I'm talking about the front office in the police station, the public counter, the centre of advice, the fountain of all knowledge and the epicentre of cheery smiles and jolly banter. These days I think there is an award for anyone who finds such a place - and two awards if it happens to be open, but whoever performs such a role has my utmost respect.

I was covering the desk for a mere 5 minutes while the regular guy went into the crime property office to recover something to be returned to a rightful owner. This procedure was often accompanied by the comment, "I've almost forgotten what it looks like" from the poor victim, whose chattels had been gathering the, by now, thick dust of the snail's-paced criminal justice process. A ruddy faced man marched through what was, at the time, our brand new police station's glass double front door into the spacious atrium designed by the same architect that got the County contract for any new doctors surgeries, infants schools and courthouses. Apparently these other establishments' glass double-fronted doors lasted quite a bit longer than ours did. The previous police station's big wooden door had survived since 1840.

Mr. `ruddyface` wanted service and he wanted it now. I was in the process of taking details of someone's driving documents when the man decided that his case was more important and started to muscle in and interrupt me and told me that if I prioritised their respective cases it would be obvious that he should be dealt with immediately. I asked if he was reporting a crime in progress, someone bleeding or choking or any sort of life-threatening incident. He wasn't. He had suffered a burglary whilst he had been away for a few days but in his mind this took priority over some bloke who had been booked for a traffic offence. I told him another five minutes or so wouldn't make a difference and to wait his turn. He stood and fumed, theatrically.

I had made an error. It was under five minutes before he had my undivided attention. I took the report of his `burglary` which turned out to be the theft of garden tools from his garden shed (left unlocked). Nevertheless, these thieving bastards needed to be caught and punished, preferably by flogging or perhaps a day padlocked in the town stocks and then pelted with rotten apples. When I said it was unlikely that I could accede to his request to dispatch a detective and forensics expert immediately, he really flew off into a purple faced rant. I completed his report, told him an officer would be allocated the job and would be in touch in due course. As it was the day before Christmas Eve I said that although the station would be on `minimum cover` over the holiday, he might be contacted within a few days, although I would have circulated details of the stolen property within the hour. He told me he was a television executive and was too busy over Christmas and anyway he would be in Barbados for two weeks and not to contact him until January 6th. And I thought it was urgent?

Actually, `minimum cover` was a bit of a joke, as it still is today. In reality, this meant that over a 24 hour period covered by three shifts, instead of having four officers per shift covering 120 square miles of a small country town and numerous villages and hamlets, there would only be two per shift. `Minimum cover` was relative and whoever it was that set this imaginary number over Christmas had clearly never worked at Christmas themself, with its good will to all, punchy drunks, the heartbreaking domestic violence incidents and sudden death calls. I wished Mr telly exec` a `Happy Christmas` as he left the station. He thought I was being sarcastic and later that day made a formal complaint against me. My chief inspector dealt with it `informally` (before `informal resolution` to complaints was actually invented and made part of the process) and when we spoke in his office the next day, Christmas Eve, just before we both booked off duty, he gave me `advice` a handshake, a glass of scotch and wished me a Happy Christmas. (I think he was being sarcastic though).

On my first Christmas Eve as a sergeant, me and my five officers dealt with ten or fifteen 999 emergency calls, and other calls in between, in the forty five minutes leading up to midnight, finishing off by bouncing fighting drunks from the town centre church at midnight mass. By 0100 I was down to three officers for the rest of the night shift. A domestic `seige` followed a brief respite, where a drunken husband had seriously assaulted his wife and then barricaded himself into his garage with his `rifle` and the family dog as hostage. We resolved this as he poked what we identified as an air rifle out of the door far enough for my trusty local beat officer to break his wrist with a short sharp blow from his lignum vitae truncheon. Job done. The man complained later about the use of excessive force, but at least it wasn't me who delivered the blow. Had it become protracted I would probably have had to respond in my other role as duty team sergeant on the force tactical fireams unit, with greater force options at my disposal. I was lucky. So was he.

Over the last few days I have read such sorry tales of woe over this `plebgate` debacle and what has been variously described as the total breakdown of trust between the police and our (Conservative) Government. It has left me sick at heart for the job I did for half my life. I cannot recall such systematic bitching and crafted tactical press `briefings` and `between the lines` innuendo's of such finely tuned quality before. I hope my modern day counterparts can rise above it, just as we did in the 70's, 80`s and 90`s, but it is bad and this country can do without this shit. And if someone has `stitched up` the former Government Chief Whip, then they shouldn't have. If the course of justice has been perverted, the guilty (all of them) should face justice.

 My sister even telephoned me very late at night (I was actually in bed) earlier this week to ask me if I knew it was all being debated `right now` on "Newsnight". Now, there's a dichotomy!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Don't try this at a marina near you

Slow speed control is a skill that requires practice, balance, practice, practice....... and a yacht.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Farewell Ferg

MAG lost a big big brother last week - Wherever you are, Ferg, enjoy the ride.

500 bikers to see him off, that would have included, police officers, lawyers, nurses and other health care workers, retail workers, clericals, engineers, military, mums, dads, whoever - Ferg was known by many and his `church` was broad indeed.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

T'is the season.....

Headed south at the weekend and took my four and a half  yr old grandson to "Santa's Grotto" on Saturday, which on this occasion was located in a classroom in his school.

We'd just got to the front of the queue, next to the beautifully crafted `North Pole` setting (and some elves) when the lad lost his bottle and backed out in front of `L'homme en rouge`.
I always used to pride myself on my quick thinking and sound decision making under stress and so I did what any good grandad would do, I told him that it wasn’t really santa, just some bloke dressed up in red, wearing a false beard and wellies and that I pulled the self same stunt nearly 30 years ago at a similar event and managed to con his uncle (my son) and 30 other kids into thinking I was Father Christmas. That did the trick and on our second approach we nailed it, got the picture and the present.
Ok, ok, so I bubbled Santa, but I was getting desperate and the lad has to learn sometime.

Friday, 7 December 2012

A question of honour?

The puerile call made to the hospital looking after the Duchess of Cambridge seemed hilarious to some, in particular the two Australian yahoo's that did it. It wasn't funny and it certainly wasn't clever although those two pricks seemed to think so.

Systems should have been in place to ensure that such things (common enough) could not happen. They usually are, when people with even a moderate threat assessment are involved. A simple solution usually involves the use of a simple password, known only to the principals and those very close to them. My short post a few days ago, on this incident, made that aformentioned point. The fact that people in the chain of events who were solely employed to look after the well being of patients in hospital were subjected to this failure is part of a greater failing completely outside their remit - and that should have been made clear to them from the outset.

Blame is like flying shrapnel and can be indiscriminate. Managers are there to shield their subordinates from this, to keep the paths of the frontline workers clear of obstructions so as to enable them to get on with their work and to support them when systemic failures occur - in health care everything else is subordinate to the care of the patient, or should be. I'm sure the manager of the Aussie radio station will be looking out for the mental anguish of his/her `subordinates in their time of anguish, once they are woken up with this news. For a dedicated nurse who took this failure very personally, a woman of honour, it is too late. 

As a dear departed friend would have said, `It is to weep`.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

If it moves.....

Just got back from walking the Jack Rascal Terrorist across seriously frozen fields. The road outside Chez Hogday was solid ice which set in around 9pm last night. You could tell that from the sound of passing cars and their revving engines and spinning wheels. Generally, the drivers of said vehicles around these parts tend to be newly graduated wankers playing `rally driver` in either their parents car or in some old hacker with a dustbin sized exhaust tailpipe, a plastic fin across the boot lid and an insurance premium that exceeds the value of the vehicle to the power of ten.

I was up at 06 double-O to make the sexydelicious Mrs HD her breakfast of porridge, sliced peaches, Lyles Golden Syrup and a mug of builders tea. I then wrapped up, nipped outside and scraped the ice from the widscreen, side windows and lights of her car, finally starting it up and setting the heating to full before she set off for work. Once the dawn broke I was out with the pooch and striding up the frozen road for a klick before striking out across the wide open spaces.

We noticed a particularly large number of these guys creeping through hedges and across drainage ditches before twigging our presence and then sprinting off into the sunrise. The JRT loves to chase but when these guys change into second, with 3 more gears to go, and he realises he's in overdrive with nothing left to draw on, he stops. JRT's are always dotty but rarely stupid. Then we heard the guns, at least six, probably a dozen, banging away about quarter of a mile distant, beyond a small copse, accompanied by a chorus of canine yelps. There was a hare shoot in progress. The JRT heard all of the aforementioned but refused to translate the barking for me. He likes to keep some things a secret. I think it gives him a sense of power and control over me.

I used to rough shoot, I used to clay shoot, I used to wildfowl. One thing I never did was shoot handguns in a gun club, before handguns were banned, as I felt no need. I was kept well trained in small arms by the police and when you've been trained to shoot at human beings, knowing that your point of aim and the weapons you were using could be terminally detrimental to their vital organs and then trained for the far more difficult task of assessing when not to, you tended to lose the desire to do things, like paintballing, for fun. I also lost my desire to hunt. It happened almost overnight. I just decided one day that it was over for me. I sold my two remaining shotguns, a Savage Stevens pump action and a Greener GP with its beautiful Martini action. I bought a decent camera and started photographing wildlife. My Labrador retriever became a non-working dog overnight. He took to his new life like a Labrador takes to water.

I went on a hare shoot once. My former in-laws were all rustics working in agriculture, more agri than culture. We turned up at the shoot and one of my brother in laws friends looked at me and said, "Is he safe"? He was assured I was. Later that morning this rustic was banging away with a Remington 1100 semi automatic shotgun (very `sporting`) at a jinking hare that was running straight at the line of guns. Safety rules dictated that one stops shooting when it runs towards the gunline but young Clem's adrenaline was up. He was swinging his aim towards me and I heard, rather than saw, his last shot as I dived to the deck and covered my head. Someone had a quiet word with him and he looked a little sheepish. If he'd looked a little hare'ish I'd have considered a snap shot in his general direction.

I learned that country types may have a born right to shoot on their land but they don't have the born skill to do so, that comes with training and experience. However, what is most worrying is that his type always think they're so bloody good with a shotgun.

Arise,, wait a minute...

A lifetime of public service, no previous convictions, never kissed the Director General of the BBC....
so what does a guy have to do do get nominated for an MBE around here???????

(The original version of this was created by Marty Feldman and performed with Tim Brooke-Taylor)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sexy photos, drugs and penis enlargement

Sorry about the above offers that I seem to be getting sent via post comments. Fortunately, I don't need any of what is on offer and only wish they'd send me something I really would benefit from.
Countermeasures will be deployed ufn.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

"Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant"

The bloke with this video camera set up on the dash must be the luckiest guy on the road - either that or a bloody curse!
This must be why the Eu want drivers to carry a breath test kit in their car or motorcycle and for everyone to wear hi viz. I get it now :-/