This morning I woke up with a dreadful cough - a real lung buster - bringing up all manner of things (I think I saw a small gold ring somewhere !!! - old Army Joke). This got me thinking of the bad old days when I smoked 40 a day. She who must be obeyed and I both smoked like the proverbial chimneys when we were young but due to reasons both of health and finance we had given it up. I managed about 2 years - but - and I know now that she reads my blog from time to time - I did not start again until the fatefull day I went on a Police support unit operation in Brighton of all places. I think it was something to do with Conservative Trades Unions - a conference or such like. Anyway there was intelligence that the "lefties" were going to cause major problems so Police Support units (PSUs) from all forces in the South of England were tasked to attend. Our unit ( one Inspector, two Sergeants and twenty PCs) in our two transit vans were sent to represent Thames Valley (Happy Valley or sometimes Chad Valley (after the toy company) as we were affectionately known by other forces). After briefing we were sent out to line the route of the projected march by the lefties. This lot were really not mucking about. ! They started ripping up paving slabs and started throwing them at us. At this time we had got as having PSUs but had not evolved into the black fireproof suits, visored helmets and armoured vans, and so were wearing our gannex macs, standard helmets (but with velcro straps - a new innovation) and otherwise ordinary uniform. This was obviously not a lot of protection against large lumps of concrete ! - We backed into an alley and were using dust bin lids as shields and I had a deja vu moment of my earlier days in Ireland as a squaddie (we sometimes ended up behind a rampart of bricks etc that had been thrown at us) but we had not yet been issued with the large shields that the army had used. At this point things were getting to the point where we were losing our traditional Policeman's cool (frankly we were getting scared) Our Inspector was radioing for help in no uncertain terms. You may have seen old films of policemen grasping the belt of the next man in front of him and moving as a solid line two lines of men form a wedge and "trudge" forward into the mob forcing them apart like a bow wave - this strange as it may seem is called "trudging and wedging"!! Two Met PSUs formed a large wedge in this fashion and trudged into the mob and got us - but not before we had quite a few cuts and bruises. Felling lucky to be alive we got back into the transit and someone offered me a "fag" - "Thanks", said I without thinking and lit up gratefully. We sat there slowing down and counting limbs etc and coming down when someone said to me "'Ere Mog I thought you had given up smoking ?" "I have", said I blowing smoke out of my ears !! It took another two years of illicit smoking before I finally managed to quit the evil weed.