Friday, 1 December 2017

Chatham House Rules - plus The New Royal Engagement

I was up the smoke last week to the annual reunion of the survivors of my old Metropolitan Police station, Cannon Row, closed down in the 80's. It used to stand within the complex on the Victoria Embankment known as "New Scotland Yard" which was the HQ of the Metropolitan Police.  That place then moved to Broadway, off Victoria Street in the late 60's to a brand new building they called....."New Scotland Yard".

Well the new New Scotland Yard got crumbly and crusty (like some of its occupants) and basically wore itself out (like some of its occupants) so they created a new home for London's police headquarters. It's now called, "New Scotland Yard" which by pure coincidence is right next door to the former home of the Met, "New Scotland Yard" - and my old nick. In my 32 years I served at numerous police stations and departments in both London and the Home Counties, but the only reunion I've ever gone to, so far, is this one. It's special to me.

Over lunch, I was sat amongst officers who formed part of the team who looked after Her Maj' when `at home` which could be any of the Royal Households, including Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Sandringham House in Norfolk or Balmoral in Scotland. I was chatting with old chums including the Queen's former personal protection officers and some who looked after her children for decades. We all knew about the latest `engagement` and that the announcement would be coming when it did. Nobody said a word of this insider information outside of our meeting place. Not one word.

Some may call that a true reflection of the code of honour and oath of office we all took, and still hold ourselves accountable to, despite being well and truly retired. Some may say it was because by the time we tottered out of the club, full of bon homie and alcohol, into the chilly streets of London, we'd completely forgotten.





Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Empires

http://news.sky.com/story/boy-aged-14-dies-after-being-shot-in-newham-east-london-11022654

My grandmother used to live in Forest Gate. When I was nine years old I rode my little bike the two miles from my home to visit her. Mum was cross as it was a spur of the moment thing and I hadn't asked her permission. She would probably have allowed me. Mums did that sort of thing in those days.

This shooting was just past Wanstead Park tube station. We'll be passing through there on the tube tomorrow - both ways. Luckily we're not fourteen years old.

 `Johnny used to work after school
at the cinema show.
Gotta hustle if he wants an education
Yeah he's got a long way to go.
Now he's out on the streets all day
selling Crack to the people who pay.
Got an AK-47 for his best friend
business the American way.

Eastside meets Westside downtown.
No time, the walls fall down Black man, trapped again. Holds his chain in his hand.
Brother killing brother for the profit of another,
Game point, nobody wins`.*


(*Lyrics from "Empire", a rock album by Queensryche, penned twenty seven years ago) 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Fake News, Fake Drama

"`Guerrilla` on Sky Atlantic is a serious contender for best TV drama of 2017" ...so says a headline on `Digital Spy`.
Really?

I've just sat through the first episode and have to say, as one who was a police officer living and working at the time and in the areas portrayed, I recognised very little, apart from a few Triumph Heralds and Ford Cortina's.

Actors portraying uniformed police officers were wearing helmets that would have been more suited to the London Fire Brigade, with chinstraps* worn horribly wrong (*nothing new there) and on demo duty they were issued with baseball bats - oh really? Where was that? Portraying officers indecently assaulting a lead female character during a search on the street, after first having punched her in the face for swearing at him, but then walking off? Such casual police violence I never did see. Maybe this happened to someone who heard it from someone who was told it happened to someone else.

I am aware of the phenomenon known as looking through rose-tinted glasses and I did encounter officers, during my 32 years service, who clearly had anger management problems, had a tendency to bully, who liked to invade the personal space of females (which workplace doesn't have such people?) and some who used excessive force but, from my perspective, widespread this most definitely was not; quite the opposite, it was rare. It must also be borne in mind that a past viewed through black tinted lenses can be equally distorted and in the case of this drama and probably for dramatic effect, deliberately so.

I was disappointed to see lead actors, whose talents I have great respect for, going along with this. But I suppose a job's a job. I've seen enough.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Ordeal by duty - Trial by Jury

  BBC online News:

Met Police officer Anthony Long cleared of Azelle Rodney murder


I think this calls for The Bard: 


"But soft, what glint through yonder carboot breaks? It is the east, and firearm is in the sun. Arise, fair sidearm, and kill the envious perp, Who is already sick and pale with grief That I, Met Pol, art far more skilled than he."

(Hat tipped to my friend, David Kenneth Ellis, for the Shakespearean form)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Killing Sprees at home and abroad



The Met's ct exercise appeared to go well. They picked a lovely day for it. Always good to do, these exercises.

Outside London it's worth remembering previous experiences. Eg. Michael Ryan (Hungerford), killed 16 people and injured a further 15 at random in under an hour, including the first police officer on scene. With that rifle, if he could see you he could hit you. A neighbour just asked me about police response times to such incidents and if there were sufficient officers. I said a force has, on average, less than 5% trained for firearms duties. She replied, "but we never see any police patrols anyway".

I told her not to worry. Rule 1, reassure the patient. :-/

 As for the Tunisia atrocity, that country was not on my list of desirable holiday destinations yet it doesn't surprise me when tourists flock to these places as I suspect many/most never consider the political and other tensions in a potential destination like I do. But I blame myself for this, as my entire working life was, in some way, touched pretty much weekly by risk assessments and planned ops to counter the threat of terrorist activities, so it has become part of my make up. I'm not paranoid but I am thoughtful about such things. I'm sure that some people will give the risk some thought (particularly now) but may well still conclude that in the bigger scheme of things, the risks are probably very low....probably.

But there's always the `six degrees of separation` theory to consider. E.g. One of the injured of the Tunisia killings works for the Norfolk (UK) police. The ex wife of my friend, former neighbour and  colleague of mine now works for the Norfolk police. So does their daughter. I have known them all since 1980. They both know the man who was injured in the attack. So it transpires that I know someone who knows a victim of last weeks terrorist attack where 30 of my fellow citizens were murdered. And now you are connected too, because you know me, albeit through this irregular blog. What are the chances of that happening, eh?

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Waterloo, June 1815






"The nearest run thing". Waterloo, June 1815

"....I should not do justice to my own feelings, or to Marshal Blucher and the Prussian Army, if I did not attribute the successful result of this arduous day to the cordial and timely assistance I received from them...." (from Wellington's campaign dispatch).

"....You'll see the account of our desperate battle and victory over Boney!! It was the most desperate business I was ever in; I never took so much trouble over any battle; and never was so near being beat. Our loss is immense, particularly in that best of all instruments, British Infantry. I never saw the infantry behave so well. I am going immediately. Can we be reinforced in Cavalry or Infantry or both? We must have Lord Combermere as Lord Uxbridge has lost his leg...." (from Wellington's letter to his elder brother and father-in-law to his military secretary)


and then in 1824, Parliament passed The Vagrancy Act, making begging and the `exposing of wounds to gather alms or pity` a criminal offence, due to the huge numbers of maimed veterans from the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars.





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