Friday, 23 September 2011

Goodbye to all that

  3 years ago this very month, having returned from Nova Scotia for the 4th time in 3 years, we put the hogpen up for sale with high hopes. Whatever we decided, we realised we could do nothing unless we had the equity in the bank, so we decided to sell and rent. Previously we'd sold our homes within weeks of putting them on the market, but not this time. Its a lovely property, a barn conversion, local stone with some walls 2 feet thick. It's sturdy, in a village that wins awards every year in the Yorkshire in Bloom contests. I always chipped in and my designated week of watering the hanging baskets along the main streets of the village clearly swung the judges this time around, as we got the elusive Gold Award. But in our hearts we knew we were not destined to live here. It was lovely, but somehow it wasn't home.

We moved up here when I was offered an `out of the blue` job that my CV could have been written for, but working for it full time was different to the previous 14 months as a `consultant` and after 6 months I walked. I'd promised myself that after leaving the po-lice, I'd never stay in a job that woke me up at 2am, either from worry or phone calls and my promise was called to action. The 7/7 bombings didn't help but there was more to it than that. (Note to employers: Never piss off a guy with a private pension because he can clear his desk and vanish in under a minute).

3 years down the line and apart from a few extra greys, we have 3 grandchildren - amazing when I don't look a day over 33. We are not moving in to their neighbourhood, not even into the same county, but we'll have half the travelling time and our beloved London will be a mere 90 minutes train ride away when we need an urban fix. I have no job now as all the `hobby jobs` I did over the last 5 years, after quitting the aforementioned stressor, have come and gone, serving their purpose. I enjoyed them all and made lots of acquaintences and a few friends. A bonus, however you look at it.

Mrs HD did similar. She had a `leaving dinner` last night and had a blast with her boss and workmates, great people, some of whom we'll continue to see. As a result of her work, we are now great friends with a Japanese lady and her New Zealander husband, living and working nearby. We know her parents, lovely gentle people, whose home was cracked by the awful, devastating earthquake. They were far enough inland to be spared the tsunami that followed. They have visited us several times, on the last occasion he treated us to 3 verses of `Amazing Grace`, followed by `The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond`, played on a harmonica, one of the most surreal moments this old house has experienced in its 160 year history. We have another female friend, who is Russian, studying in the UK to be an accountant but who is currently assigned a modelling contract and is in China for 3 months. People who are enriching our lives.

My final Pilates class was yesterday. I was `Man Thursday`, the only guy in the group, although they never made me feel as if I was, something I doubt would have happened were the situation reversed. The coach was a star and the class were all delightful ladies and were very considerate of my shy and retiring nature, forcing me into their coffee and cake sessions after class ;) Star coach even got me a bottle of Jack Daniel's - must have associated that with me riding a big Harley. I never mentioned the moisturiser I use - a man must have his secrets.

So here we are, all our worldly goods in cardboard boxes awaiting Mr Shifter next week. But all the really important stuff doesn't come or go in any box. Cheerio and see you later.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sics munce ago i cudnt even spel `dective`, now i are wun!

Over at Gadget's place, his latest post (probably one of the last typed on his Sinclair Spectrum, until his new public sponsored computer gets delivered!) drew attention to comments made by Tom Winsor about the poor literary and grammatical skills of police officers. There were the usual hundreds of comments in response, many of which give concurring examples of what Mr Winsor was referring to after chatting to his barrister chums, so what can one conclude from this?

I worked alongside an officer who was so bad at spelling that I doubted he could get his name right without first checking his warrant card. He had GCE O and A levels coming out of his ears. I asked him how he managed such great exam results. His reply was simple, "At school they weren't bothered about the spelling, as long as the meaning was there". He made DCI eventually. At another station I worked alongside a Pc who had a doctorate, a former Royal Navy submariner officer who could have probably made it as a concert pianist and, in my firearms team days, former SAS troopers, paramedics, schoolteachers and bank clerks who had formed into a formidable team that were truly awe inspiring.  I once received details of a Met Pc's initial written statement made after he had been involved in a police vehicle accident. It read, "The black fella stepped out in front of me. I hit the brakes. Skidded. Bosh".  That was it. Not a whole lot of information there. Yet someone had passed that as suitable to be presented as evidence. I've also worked on the shop floor of a major supermarket where the workforce consisted of a similarly varied cross section of society, with intellects ranging from doctorate to Cro-Magnon . I have worked for a self made millionaire who could not write a single sentence that made sense - and as for spelling, wotz that?

I heard that the C/I who replaced me when I retired had two probationary officers posted to the division whose English grammar and spelling was so bad that he paid for evening classes for them, out of the divisional budget! Lucky them. In my day the C/I would have had a friendly chat and `let them go`, except in the 1970's we called it getting the sack, in fact I doubt they'd have been accepted in the first place and if they were, the recruiting officer would have been disciplined.

What do Winsor's comments prove? That anyone can get in? That there are no common minimum requirements? That the common minimum requirements are too low or that no one is bothering to uphold them? That the suitable gene/recruit pool is shrinking or the content is corrupted with mutations? I don't think the police are alone in this, yet Winsor (shouldn't there be a `d` in Win sor?) would  have us think otherwise.

(Please ignore any typo's, spelling, grammaticals etc)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Liar Liar

At last, the police will soon be able to use a passive, non-intrusive, non-threatening, non-intimidating method of detecting when someone might be lying during an will work on on, can we conduct this interview somewhere in France maybe?

We are all someone's `weird acquaintance`

Prince Charles caught some more flak the other day.

A lot of people think he is eccentric, well from my perspective that all depends on what you classify as `normal` and in my 30 years as a police officer, including  my other life experiences, I learnt not to use that word.
I can tell you that they are not at all eccentric. Why, even when Her Maj refused to allow the police to install mains vhf radios in the Royal automobiles `the Met` just shrugged and went along with it, which meant me and my chums in blue had to go along with it as well – until some nut tried to kidnap The Princess Royal and her personal protection officer took several incoming rounds without being able to radio for assistance on his out of range, 50/50 iffy uhf, hand held radio – that and because he had bullet holes in him (no body armour then), he was bleeding into unconsciousness and unable to return fire due to a stoppage (thats a weapon `jam`). Fortunately my colleague Mick was nearby and put in the call before he too was shot. When I last enquired I heard that Mick still has the bullet, nicely quarterised, nestling next to his liver - safer than the op to remove it. They fitted radios to the cars after that little scare. Eccentric? Nah! This is eccentric

Monday, 12 September 2011

Today is yesterday's tomorrow

For me, yesterday was not an anniversary.

At some moment, every day, I remember something about 9/11 and how it has re-shaped me and my world. I am not over it. I am in no frame of mind to forgive and I know I never will.

Some might argue that this nil-forgiveness diminishes my humanity somewhat but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Salaam, Shalom, Pax

Monday, 5 September 2011

In a think-tank... in a galaxy... far, far away.....

"Hey guys, I've got one. Why don't we make it so the cops all have to go to and from work in their uniforms?!!"

"That's great Hugo, God knows why no one has thought of this before. I mean, like, with all the too`ing and frow`ing from their homes to work and back again, there'll be like thousands of extra uniforms on buses, tube trains, pedal cycles, cars and stuff and the proles will see all these extra police uniforms about and be like totally fooled and SO-not-scared any more!

Yah, and, like, all the bad shit about the police staff cuts and stuff will look like it's so not happening - it'll be, like, a bullshitfest! Awesome!"

"And when the cops are going home after a 12 hour shift with no radio, no protective equipment, no defensive weapons and no anti stab protective vests and see bad shit going down, they can get off their bike or out of their car and just wade in and, bingo, it all stops! Have to decide whether they'll get paid overtime for going back on duty though - no, wait, they're never off duty ha ha ha ha ha. And the great thing is that this can happen before they even get to work as well, its just brill!"

"And if they have to arrest someone they can put them in their car and drive them to the nearest police station or just use their mobile and diall 999 and won't have to wait too long for another cop to arrive with a radio, baton, CS gas, cuffs and stuff oh yeah and a stab resistant vest thing - this is, like sooo cool. And if a mob decides to smash up their car whilst they're dealing with the bad guys, they can get a ride back to work in the cop car - it's too simple."

"Hey Giles, how about we also make it so they have to live in one of those....what are they called? oh yeah, estates, yeah, housing estates - not the sort of estate that you live on Hugo (laughs). No, these estates don't have long drives, a paddock, cctv monitors and remote controlled gates, these have things called terraced and semi-detached houses, 7 till 11 shops and drop in centres and things - other people live there.
 Then, when all the bad guys know that we've put a copper and his wife and kids next to their crack house, they'll think twice before getting up to no good - it will make a huge difference to crime prevention - wow this is getting better by the minute." Anyone else got any ideas? Tamsin, your hand's up"

"Well, guys (still, small voice of reason), just a thought, when we move the cops and their families onto these problem `estates` to warn off the bad guys and make them, like, behave, what happens if they become the targets for vandalism, have their cars damaged, kids threatened, pets poisoned and have dog crap and fish and chip wrappers and stuff put over their garden fences or through their letter boxes and generally have their lives made hellish.......just saying."

"Well that's easy, we won't have to send a copper round to report it, will we. Save us a fortune. Nice one Tamsin"