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.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Doppelgangers

Still on the subject of people who look like slightly famous people, one evening we had both a Harold Shipman and a Mathew Modine in the bar (but they weren't drinking together). I don't think the Modine look-a-like could help it, but Shipman had a choice. He could keep his serial-killer beard or just have a good shave and a new pair of glasses, but no, he had chosen to revel in the macabre and that was the choice he was sticking to, the stubborn git.

When there has been an allegedly famous person in our pub, it has been someone I've never heard of and didn't recognise anyway, because I hardly watch any television. My colleagues keep me in the know, praise them and their wisdom.

I would quite welcome Mathew Modine if he really came and turned out to be like Private Joker from Full Metal Jacket. I would certainly select Joker as my platoon commander/bar manager if I had the chance. Scrap that, I'd have the drill instructor. He would keep the goddamn fucking cocksucker shit for brains customers in their place. 'What the fuck is this in your footlocker, Private? A fucking half? Because you were thirsty? Get the fuck off my bar you worthless maggot!' Yes, the drill instructor would see us through. Anyway, I imagine Modine was just putting on all that Joker persona for the sake of the film and is nothing like Joker in real life. Does anyone know?

Previous look-a-likes I have served are military historian Richard Holmes, former Dr.Who Tom Baker (c1990s, after his curly hair phase) and that is all I can remember off my head. (Not that I am off my head).

I forgive Charlotte Gainsbourg-esque girl

I’ve been working the nightshifts at a homeless shelter this week, and this involves coming into contact with many other volunteers. Some of them are nice young ladies. Anyway, what happened this morning, at the end of the penultimate nightshift, made me think about one of (many) things which generally annoy me about life and my place in it. The previous shift, I was working with a rather delightful girl, I don’t know how old, let’s say 20, and she’s a trainee socialworker. Many of the duties in the shelter allow for a lot of chat between volunteers (and our homeless guests, of course) and I found this girl very pleasant to get along with, very open but without pushing details of her life at me, and receptive to my thoughts. Physically, she looked very much like the French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. Most pleasing to the eye. Most pleasant to be with.

At the end of the shift, as we walked out of the building and reached the point of going our separate ways, it felt natural to ask if she’d like to meet up in the near future to continue our chat. I thought we may be becoming friends. ‘Of course! Yeah,’ she said. Good, I thought, she seems chilled about it. Then she continued ‘Are you coming to the volunteers party?’ What’s the volunteers party got to do with it? I thought.
‘Probably not, I don’t really like parties.’
‘Oh OK, well then maybe you’ll join the volunteers drink at the end of the week’. Oh dear, went the bloody awful monologue I always have going on in my head, she’s just another freak who can’t tell the difference between a come-on and a friendly invitation.
‘Look, don’t you get it?’ I said. I actually said that! I did! In a friendly way, mind. ‘I’m trying to ask for your number so we...’ and that was as far as I got, because at that moment she went all funny, like her mind was taken over by a strange mind control force which blocked out my attempts to speak to her. ‘Oh, ha ha, ha. Right, ha, I’ll see you on the nightshift tonight then, OK? See you around. OK?’ Blah di blah blah bitch.

Stay gentle readers, stay, I don’t really think she’s a bitch. I just wish people would not freak out on me so. I would not be at all offended if a girl said, ‘sorry, I’m not giving you my number, you’re very ugly’. Why would that offend me? I have no reason to expect anyone to be attracted to me. All I know is that I am not as hideous as Joseph Merrick because most people can stand the sight of me, because it is proven every day, but beyond that I know nothing of my attractiveness. (Other than a niggly little feeling that it isn't up there amongst the greats, but never mind).

Neither do I take it for granted that my inquisitive personality and flippant view of life are necessarily anyone’s cup of tea. ‘You’re a bore and have a shade of the borderline psychotic. I’m not giving you my number’. I wouldn’t mind in the slightest.

And I know that some people are just too busy to know any more people. Or they could make up an excuse - how am I to know?

I just wish girls wouldn’t go all precious about being asked for their number, and could get over themselves a little bit. Not having this girl in my life doesn’t bother me all that much - like I said, she was pleasant, not vitally important. But from looking at her compulsive automatic denial of the situation as demonstrated through blotting out my suggestion that we exchange contact details, bloody hell, I think anti-socialworker would be a better career for her. (And I should know, right?)

Actually she was a sweet person but I just don’t understand. People - can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Oh yes, and I was looking after lots of the homeless, too, not to forget. I suppose I could write about them, too.

The glass is full, bastard

I was just having a think about some of the pub customers who piss me off. ‘Wanton arseholes’, I was thinking. For example, there was a slightly posh* but wankerish women who complained, ‘excuse me, do you mind if I have a full measure of wine in this glass?’ I inspected her glass and the wine was touching, but had not actually passed the line we’re supposed to fill it to. Usually I pour it a touch past the line, and if I like the customer, I go way past the line because I’m not some sort of socialist prick who cares about wishy-washy fairness, but at this moment I was very busy and had made an honest ‘mistake’. Now, I am pretty fast to admit mistakes, in fact, I even claim many mistakes which probably aren’t mine, just in case I was wrong and it later turns out they were my fault, and also because it helps maintain my image of saintliness which you wouldn't expect if you only knew me from reading this blog, but I try to be reasonable and I don’t think this porcine princess really had grounds for such a stake to high dudgeon. What irked me was her tone, fucking ‘do you mind?’, cunting ‘I’d like a full measure’. If you just say ‘can you top that up a little? ta’ that would be fine, and I will never lose patience in trying to make everything just right for you, but why come out to a pub and treat the staff like we’re domestic servants? I know 'pub' means 'public house' but you're supposed to be a humble guest, not the Lady of the Mannor so sit down and shut up.

*Dutch has a better word for posh - ‘bekakt’ - which literally translates as ‘beshitted'... in the sense of ‘bewitched’, ‘bedeviled’ and other such English words. Dutch people have said I sound bekakt in both languages, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being posh, as such. In fact, it’s a positive thing, and I may explain why in a future post.

On the subject of pouring drinks in general, here's a cunt who's right.

UPDATE: I can't remember what the hell I was going to say about poshness. Dammit.