Sunday, April 16, 2006

Body Language #1: Army

The British Army used to have an officer recruitment advert on TV, where we see a situation literally from an ‘officer’s eyeview’. We’re in a desert in Africa, or somewhere hot like that, and we see a derelict well guarded by some warlord or other, threatening us with a Kalashnikov. A title fades up saying something like ‘You need access to this warlord’s water supply, what are you going to do?’ The warlord gets cross and starts shouting and pointing the gun directly at us. Then the officer’s hand reaches up and removes a pair of dark sunglasses from his face, that is, the camera. The warlord instantly calms down and welcomes us to the water supply. Another title appears saying something like ‘Army officers understand that making eye contact gets the best out of people’, but I can’t remember the exact words. Then you get the number to ring if you want to go and take the King’s shilling , or whatever they give you these days when you join up.

Anyway, I was reminded of all this because today there was a woman who wanted access to my wine supply, her inability to make even fleeting eye contact with me seemed like the actions of an aggressor, but luckily my musket was in an inconvenient spot on the wall above the fireplace. So she lived. This time.

Such is the life of this barman.

Other random comments on the world today:

Horrah for Doctor fantastic Who, and Booo to Harry bloody Potter. In the article from the Telegraph, we hear that some foreign models "read them [Harry Potter] to improve their English, they are very good for that." I agree that Rowling is adequate for practicing a foreign language, but that is all I'd ever read her for. (Please excuse my curmudgeonliness, I have a searing hate of the whole Potter phenomena, and it needs to be vented occasionally. Thank-you).

Finally, horrah for this old curmudgeon, who finally had his way with the pub that banned him - he just bought the place and set it to rights. I like.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Watch the skies

The jets are up to something, I’m telling you. Today my gaze was drawn skyward by the unmissable sight of four airliners in convoy formation. While I can accept that my perspective may have been distorted by the thousands of feet separating me from them, I am sure the conniving buggers were actually doing some sly nose-to-tail aerobatics.

Any air traffic controllers reading this? What are you playing at?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Barman duties

This is Bobbie. Actually this isn’t Bobbie, it’s just a photo of some Jack Russell who looks like Bobbie, pinched off the ‘net to use here. Bobbie’s anonymity, like my own, must be treated carefully. Because Bobbie, like me, doesn’t care too much for rules and duties. I won’t dig myself into a deep hole by saying exactly which pub regulations we regularly flout, but suffice to say that while I specialise in confounding our enemies through verbal sparring, young Bob is yet to learn such subtleties and likes to get right in there, get his teeth into a problem, you know.

The world is not yet in anarchy, however. Performing one’s ‘duty’ behind the bar, according to some of the Google searches leading here, does seem to have been on the minds of certain visitors to these pages. Maybe one day I will compile a list of ‘barman duties’ for those ‘net surfing defenders of civilisation – I will just have to use my imagination and perhaps cast my mind back to the last time I bothered paying real attention to anyone who deigns to call themselves my ‘manager’. Bobbie might even lend me a paw.

Until then, our mini-insurgency will quietly murmur along, leaving no mark on the rest of the world other than a few dented shins and a customer or two converted from belligerency to befuddlement.

We did indeed have a list of ‘bar workers duties’ pasted up behind our bar once. I apologise to those Googling for exactly that information, but the list seems to have disappeared now. It just might have been ripped to shreds by a small canine, I really don’t know. But at least now we have Bobbie’s photos pasted up there, and they fill the gap handsomely.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Source: The Daily Telegraph, last week

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

He's not dead, he's just having a tricky regeneration.

Slobodan Milosevic as 'Former President of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia' on trial.

Jack Nance as 'Henry' in Eraserhead.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?

Barman’s Words is it, then?’ My big, fat friend did not look happy. He looked like he was about to lunge at me. How the hell did anyone find out? I frantically asked myself over and over.
‘Barman’s words! I’ll give you fucking words!’ He made a move towards me. Other familiar faces appeared behind him, all equally angry. I stepped back and then began running, all I could think was:
How much have they read?
Can I wipe all the old posts before they cut and paste it all?
Why the hell is my fat friend even bothered? I haven’t even mentioned him yet!

The dream ended with me racing through one of those old Bletchley Park-style computers, yanking out circuitboards and hurling them to smash them on the ground.

Traumatic stuff, this blogging lark.

(And I'll finish the police 3-parter when I decide how I can make it unrecognisable without being silly).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Police attachment: Part 2 - Nicked

Here’s an extract from Frank’s blog (with no excessive disrespect to Frank intended, I just thought he could tell the story better than me).

So we gets to the nick and they gets me out the van and they has me standing in a cage not properly inside the nick, like, and there woz two coppers and this geezer I dunno who he was, and he didn’t even say nothing, and then we woz just standing there for ages, the old bill has some fags but I don’t have one, I can’t cos my arms are cuffed behind my back innit. Anyway I says like have you worked it out yet, I don’t have a sub-machinegun on me and the old copper he says yeah, we worked that one out, mate, then I says like, can you take the cuffs off coz I can’t blow my nose but the copper wipes my nose with my jumper, they says they can’t take the cuffs off cos I haven’t been searched yet innit. Truthfully, I says, I’m not gonna do nothing am I, do I look like a nutter? but they just ask me like how are you now? I says my fucking shoulder blade hurts why did they get on top? And the old copper he just says oh sorry about that but I says yeah but it was fucking Esso nigh eeeen!! I’ll be honest with you that was well out of order by the way I wanna join the police but I won’t get in now will I? And yeah I’ve been in the army, but a fucking gun in my face, Esso nigh eeeen there was no need for it. He says so you’ve been in the army which regiment, the Royal Norfolk ‘n Goods regiment I says seventeen months, nah, seventeen and a half months, I’m not a nutter. The copper says did I work for London borough of Insult-upon-Injury and I says yeah how did you know? Cos it’s on your coat he says, I says you’re not gonna tell ‘em are you he says nah of course not, why would we tell ‘em? I’m really upset like and he says don’t worry you’re not gonna lose your job over this, this is nothing you’ll just get an 80 pound fine, oh, by the way what time are you meant to be at work in the morning? 5am I says oh shit he says never mind. 80 pound you’re having a laugh.

Anyway we gets into the nick and they says careful don’t touch the walls an alarm will go off and then we gets into this room with a tall bird behind a counter and we’re waiting longer, and that geezer he sits down and another police bird says like are you outta trojan then? I’m like whaaat? he says ummm but the other copper says go behind the counter this is all on camera, if it all kicks off they’ll be asking why wasn’t you behind the counter? I says don’t worry truthfully I’m not gonna do nothing I’m knackered aren’t I? The old copper says to the bird why I was nicked like, and then they’re asking all sorts again like what’s your name? I says I don’t have to give you my name and take the cuffs off pleeeeeze and they says no we’re not taking them off, what’s your name? Joe Bloggs I says how are you spelling Bloggs? she says, I says don’t worry about it. They get my credit cards out my pocket and the bird says right now we’ll see what your name is won’t we but I’m like no you won’t… cos… cos they’re not my cards innit, so there, and the bitch she says aaaah now there’s an admission, what a cow, then she says to the copper well aren’t you gonna nick him for that? he says yeah I suppose but she says well go on then and he looks at me and says you’re nicked for whatever and I say yeah yeah I know she just said. The old copper picks up a card and he says well at least Mr Poke will be happy to get his cards back and I’m like fucking hell can’t you read that’s Pike he says nah that’s Poke I says my name’s Pike you dickhead. The bird says can I remind you not to swear in here, dickhead ain’t swearing I says, it’s a proverb, that shut them up.

Then the bird she chucks a leaflet at me and she’s asking am I a nutter or not? do I have a learning something… whatever, do I need anyone to help me read and am I gonna do myself in? And they wanted my necklace but I says I have to keep it for religious faith reasons and she says you know we can remove it by force if we have to, I says no you can’t it’s for God and then the coppers wot nicked me, suddenly his radio is off and they bugger off I'm like what’s that all about then?

End of Part 2. To be polished off…

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Police attachment: Part 1 - Out on the town

I was fighting with lollipop-man coats and unusually heavy tank-tops and also some kit bags, trying to make myself comfy in the back of a BMW estate ‘zone car’ as we waited for automatic gates to release us from the police compound. Kev (‘father’ - driving) looked round his headrest at me. ‘The key to tonight, mate, is to enjoy’. Steve (‘son’) nodded. ‘Like everything with policing and when you start in the Specials, you have to remember … just enjoy it.’

I could’ve joined in here and admitted ‘actually, you know, I love a bit of chaos,’ but I decided that expounding on the pleasures of benign anarchy may be better left for a time when we were all better acquainted and not launching into 100 mile an hour sprints through 30 zones to counsel belligerent lovers, look at places where a burglar has just been, and other such demands as are made upon ‘response officers’. Now was the time to listen, observe, learn. And enjoy.

The approach to the midnight hour had seen a few of these domestic calls and the chasing of a phantom burglar, but nothing to provoke real consternation either in the officers or myself. Now another message had flashed up on the diddy little computer where the sound system is supposed to go. This time the Pcs appeared slightly concerned. ‘We’ll have this one’, said Kev, hitting the big red Nee Naw™ button. ‘This is probably a hoax, but you don’t know’. I leaned forwards to read the screen. Someone had dialed 999 giving a quite detailed description of a young man – in possession of a gun - seen walking around the town centre harassing random strangers. Before I could read further the CCTV control woman crackled over the radio, ‘apparently he has a sub-machinegun under his coat and he’s heading into the nightclubs area’.

‘The last time we were out in this car, we ended up in a commercial,’ Kev had told me earlier in the evening. The BMW had apparently enjoyed that attention, deciding to show off again by opening its boot at the peak of an intense burst of acceleration, and by the time Kev could stop ‘the bastard’, a trail of cones, bolt cutters, and general police detritus had scattered in an arc far behind us. The blue disco lights were left strobing over us as we scampered back and forth to gather everything up, losing valuable seconds in the epic race between crime and … what were we supposed to be doing again?

Steve explained that with such a mission, rather than racing directly in, we would have to make a date with other units, the idea being that the suspected gunman could then be tackled with the necessary co-ordination and minimal risk. Later, having made several orbits of the town centre, listening to the control-room woman updating us on the suspect’s worrisome actions but receiving no clear venue for the date, the officers were getting impatient. They decided something to the effect of ‘never mind the silly old rendezvous point’, and Kev brought us into a large carpark adjacent to the main shopping centre, aiming the car in the general direction of the reported suspect. We would wait and perhaps see.

On his mobile, Steve was warning a friend in town to keep away from the area (‘look, just start walking towards the train station’) when the radio crackled again at last ‘…he’s attacking someone outside Contemptible’s [nightclub]’. By the end of the word ‘attacking’, Kev was bringing us up to a fair old canter across the carpark.
‘Look, I’ve got to go’. Steve snapped his mobile shut. We ran out of carpark. Kev slowed and bumped us up onto the pavement.
‘Are you supposed to do that?’ I thought.
‘We’re not supposed to do that,’ he mentioned later, over coffee.
Now, do you know the opening titles sequence of the film Naked Gun, where the camera’s point of view is from the roof of a police car driving through progressively more ludicrous settings? (If I recall, it emerges from between a woman’s legs and goes down the hospital corridor, disturbs guys standing at urinals, etc. That sort of nonsense).

Well, we were something like that, weaving through the (thankfully deserted) pedestrian precinct. ‘Ah, bollards’, I thought, ‘we’ll have to stop here, then,’ and ‘they’re rather close together, these bollards, I really can’t see us making it through… oh, that worked’. Kev, I never doubted you for a moment. Seconds later, we discovered men thrashing around like apes. Zooming in on the huddle of bodies as they tumbled across the ground, it looked like an extreme version of Twister™ was spontaneously being improvised by Contemptible’s door staff. A hapless, tracksuited body was becoming caught up in this, arms flailing between the bouncer legs.

The two officers flew out. I opened my door. ‘Stay in the car!’, Kev shouted. Another pair of police cars lurched in from the opposite direction with not-too-bad timing, if I may offer my non-Met-trained opinion. Sub-machinegun wielding officers leapt from one. We hadn't been blown out after all! The bouncers hesitated and seemed to lose their confidence for a moment.

The armed officers raised their guns and edged towards the scrum, walking sideways, like crabs or something. The camp, theatrical tarts.

My officers just bundled into the melee. Co-ordination? Minimal risk? What?

Leaning forwards between the front seats, I peered through the windscreen at the writhing heap, the gun barrels closing in and taking over as the bouncers backed off. I might sound callous, but Harry Stanley and Stockwell tube station flashed through my mind and I was just thinking ‘here we go, then… well, are they going to?’

It’s strange how the media can pre-cook our perceptions of events. I mean, all these TV dramas and movies with people pulling guns on each other like it’s an everyday occurrence, and now here I was, seeing it in the flesh, but sitting in the back of a car, the basic difference being that I had a windscreen in place of a widescreen TV. My eyes were fixed on that screen, unable to look away. At that moment I was resigned to seeing life shattering violence, but nothing could’ve distracted me from taking the events in.

What of the quarry - or the lucky survivor, as we could call him? There was no police shouting, no noisy threats or warnings. I don't think anyone would've heard, anyway, the only sound being the persistent, unintelligible screaming of a young man who believed that incredible unfairness was happening to him, while people he’d never met made the first preparations for the next little episode of his life.

As the police van was slammed up, Kev joined me in the car. ‘Don’t ask me what that was all about mate, ‘cause I haven’t got a fucking clue’.

End of Part 1

The next episode is still in my head, but I thought posting this would help motivating me to get the hell on and write it.

'Hang on! Police!'

Not long ago, the police said I could come out and be their mate. Shortly after the interview, though, one little bit of police wisdom was handed down to me, a piece of wisdom that has stuck with me for… ooh… at least two months. ‘During the interview,’ advised the more violent-looking of the two interviewers, ‘you were worrying too much about using the right words, like calling a shift a relief, and there were some other things, too.’ To quote him verbatim, ‘You’re not Throbbing Metropolis™-trained yet so don’t worry about the correct terminology.’ I thanked him and we parted on the best of terms.

If I understand this correctly, I’m not supposed to use specialist policewords until I officially come out as a player. I will try my best.

The next couple of posts will tell you a little bit about what I did next with the police, when the police from my local team showed me round a few times, made hot chocolate for me, and generally tried to impress in the hope that I will chose them and not their rivals across the empire border. Apparently they ‘need Specials’ around here.

If you don’t ask you don't get, and, as they say in my region by way of Friday night valediction, 'you're gonna GET IT!'

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Let it drip

Another surprise-attack from behind happened today. I had popped out of the bar into the kitchen for something and I felt the manager’s warm, annoying, patronising hand pressing onto my back. ‘Yes?’
‘Do you mind not blowing your nose in the bar from now on?’
‘Ah, right?’ Didn’t we used to have managers who cared about things that other people cared about?
‘And if you do, wash your hands.’
‘Right-oh.’ Erm, or I could just continue using a hanky like I always have done?
He took his hand away and straightened himself up. ‘Alright, my son’.
‘Oh, alright’, I said. Don’t you feel ridiculous calling me ‘son’, considering we’re the same age?

And life went on.

In a world of natural justice I would have screeched ‘silly you, fool!’ I would not have contained my urge to laugh at his face, and I would have slapped him with one of the many flappy fish that were readily to hand for such contingencies.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blogs are awful

This article makes a good case for despising blogs, which you may like to do, I really don't know. Speaking for myself, I'm with him all the way.

I consider myself afflicted with 'Aspiring Writer', but possibly with trace of the other maladies. You decide which ones, because you're really there, aren't you? I will you to exist. Oh just read the man's article.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Androgynous? Yes, I am

I was clearing a table this evening when I felt someone's hands sensuously feeling around my waist. The experience didn’t last very long. The hands quickly slid down to my bum region, while gently trying to ease my body towards the table, so that the owner of the hands could get past me (I assume). But before it could get any steamier, I had instinctively looked around to see who it was. And the elderly, brave, and - may I say - rather optimistic chap, saw what I was. A guy, not a gal. And the look on his face was burned into my memory for ever more. But I’m still not getting my pretty ponytail cut off, no.

I am with him on one thing, though: I do wish there were more amazonian type girls of 6' +. He must have thought his wish had come true. Bless.