Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Back into the Fray (shortly)!!
Well, we've been down in Devon (near Ilfracombe) for a couple of weeks. Have not been blogging via the lap top as I had the first bill for the new "internet" mobile - far from the £15.00 per month (and half price for the first six months if you sign up for 18 months rather than 12) the bill was £94.00 !! only the first three times logging on to the internet were free all the other times varied from £2.00 to £20.00 !! and they even charged me for the "information" messages they sent me - I remember why I didn't want a contract phone after the last debacle !!So anyway, I thought I had a chest infection as I was wheezing like a busted kettle. Kept taking cough mixture like it was going out of style but kept on coughing and wheezing. Upshot being I apparantly passed out or even a "petit mal" a couple of times = once whlst having a social evening in our friends' caravan. So off to the Doctor in the morning. Pleasantly surprised that. instead of waiting until the surgery was over (which would of happened at our local Doctor) I was sent round to see the Sister, who called a Doctor and it turned out that I had been having a really first class asthma attack and not a chest infection at all. They even lent me a nebulizer to take massive doses of the ventolin stuff. I looked like a smoking dragon, puffing away. When normal service was resumed towards the end of the week I have re-started using the pump at night and am now managing at least 6 hours (the record is 8 at this time) and am feeling a lot better. Going to the Sleep clinic for a "sign off" visit then to the Doctors and back to work on Monday !! - Its been a long six months and looking back I realise how wound up I had been !
Had a phone call from personnel this week and they informed me that I would be on half pay on the 8th - so I gleefully informed them that I was coming back to work on the 2nd !! Back to work just in time to apply for some leave !
feeling more like the old mog
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Brush With Royalty ?
One last tale from the PSU before we go on hols (Orf to Devon - cream teas and lashings of ginger beer etc). As previous blogs testify we were getting pretty good as a Police Support Unit and as such were the first one called for any out of force unusual incidents. We were well trained, well equipped and ready for anything. Imagine our delight when we were selected to represent Thames Valley at Prince Charles Wedding to the lovely Diana Spencer. This was major stuff not so much public order, as publicity for the Force. All best uniforms, white gloves, best boots and medals even ! Some of the younger members of the team, who had not been in the Forces often asked what those little bits of ribbon signified on our uniforms - Nice to get the whole thing out of the box, all court mounted GSM. bar and UN medals. Best Boots out of the wardrobe where they had been sitting under a yellow duster for years. Best uniforms on hangers etc we boarded special coaches at some ungodly hour - all being filmed for posterity by a TV crew. Got in to town about 0600 as all the roads were being closed off and the sniffer dog teams were out in force. We were due to eat breakfast at the Bank of America, who had offered to "put us up and feed us" - Great grub - TV crew still following us about - As usual someone had to perform. "Gonzo", as he was known to all got a real tray full of food, forgot he was wearing fully studded "Ammo" boots and did the classic man on ball bearings walk on the highly polished tiles of the restaurant - food, trays and Gonzo everywhere - all filumed in glorious technicolour - No real harm done as he hadn't put his tunic on - quick mop up and laughter all round - release of tension !! - We had been told to fill our pockets with sweets to hand to the crowd as we were going to be there for some hours without moving and we should try and make friends with them etc etc. She who must be obeyed had bought packs of boiled sweets, toffees etc which I dutifully distributed about my person trying to smooth the lumps out. One last brush down, fix medals to tunic, white gloves on and - as this was a really special event - chin strap down a la metropolitan
We have always worn the chin strap stretched round the back of the helmet - no idea why, no one ever told us !! - Fully briefed we marched down and took up our positions along Fleet Street
About twenty yards apart - facing the crowds, some of whom had camped for several nights behind the crash barriers so as to get a good view. Start handing out sweets to all and sundry. Conversations with persons from all corners of the globe ! On my small twenty yard stretch I had persons from America, the continent, the caribbean and glory be, two largish Australian ladies sitting on the biggest cold box I have every seen. "Wot's in the box girls ?" says Mog.
"Wait and see mate" says one of them. We all happily chat for the interminable hours before we get the heads up - We look down Fleet st and can see the procession winding up. Off comes the lid of the cool box "Here mate have a glass", says one of them passing me a champagne flute -
"pop" goes the cork and lo and behold champers everywhere - just time for a quick slurp - hide glass and - although we were told to face the crowd as they came past I'm sure every one had a look wonderful sight - They looked happy and the whole world appeared to be full of cheering crowds. Pity it didn't last but at the time all was well with the world. Back to the Champagne
The ladies kept getting overcome with emotion and "pop" went another cork. I drank an awful lot of champagne that day but for some reason did not get drunk. Got big wet kisses from the two lovely ladies who were in floods of tears and then quick fall in and march back to the coaches and a glorious day was had by all. Best of all was when we got back to the coaches and changed back into jeans and sweat shirts we found that the Inspector (God bless him and his wife and sprogs) had bought crates of beer for all. We had a long, slow, popped up ride back to High Wycombe at the end of one of the best PSU days of my long and undistinguished career !
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Self Mutilation ??
Continuing the tales of the PSU. I can't remember if I told you about the time my name sake
(same name different spelling though)(Chris Burrows) bit himself in the bum. It was on the Miner's strike in 1984. We had got to the stage where the morning ritual was to meet at one of the big sites for breakfast (Orgreave mainly) as there were some miners still working at this pit and there was almost always a number of strikers there. As there was a huge car park and usually about 6 or 7 PSUs from any number of different forces and we tended to stay there for some hours either waiting for the call elsewhere or an effort to "get at " the non striking miners got underway we started to play a peculiar form of footie. This usually involved 30 or 40 a side with no offside, two transit vans as goal posts, no referee and the only rules I seem to remember was that you didn't actually trample on someone who was down(although when it got a bit dusty and the ball was at the bottom of a pile of bodies it got a bit enthusiastic in the middle of the dust colud). Our PSU at this time was (and I am not ashamed of boasting) one of the best in the country and had all the latest kit. We had "team boots" with steel toecaps, ice hocky shin guards and protective boxes for your "bits" all topped off with a spiffy fireproof black jump suit and imported Smith and Wesson protective helmet. This being so we really got stuck in when it got to footie. One morning, after brekkie we were sitting about by the vans when someone produced the inevitable football - We had two PSUs on site this day so after leaving the drivers and a couple of PCs manning the radios etc about 30 of us "took the field" to challenge all comers. At this time Chris Burrows, who was actually on the other PSU (saved confusion when the bosses were being formal - i.e. when one called for "PC Burrows" only one of us would answer ?)
knowing that things would probably get a bit hairy as two Met battle buses had come in - about 50 of them and there was a grudge match with them (The London Metropolitan Police force always seemed to think that they were the elite for some strange reason and really resented the fact that we were better kitted than them at this time). Anyway Chris, knowing this took his false teeth "plate" out - this was one with bent steel wires which wound round the teeth to keep it in. Things got a little rough under these circumstances - He carfully wrapped them in his hankie (yeuk !!) and stuffed them in the pocket of his jump suit. The game commenced and as usual the ball disappeared into a heap of bodies every one kicking and hacking full bore. Watching professional footie on telly, the pros seem to collapse in writhing heaps in agony after the slightest touch - God knows what they would think of our footy matches (which incidently also went on until the last man standing - no half time etc) and teams varied in size as people dropped in and out for a fag or a drink etc. There being no shortage of blood flowing etc it was a suprise that after the ball moved on there was a solitary figure laying writhing on the ground. This of course gave rise to shouts of "don't just lay there do press-ups" and other sympathetic comments ! After a little while of this we thought we aught to have a look at him so shouted for the team medic (who, being a sensible chap was not playing). He took his little bag over to Chris and turning him over saw the spreading blood stain on the leg of his suit. "Shit" and other expletives - Might be a bit more serious than we thought ! Strip off jump suit down to knees, then face down on stretcher. What's that dirty grey rag covered in blood doing ? using some surgical tongs the medic tried to pull the now identifed hankie out of what appeared to be quite a large wound in the gluteous maximus. "Ere, there's teeth marks - them bastard mets have been cheating and bit him" Rumbles of discontent from a now interested audience of both TVP and METPOL officers all beginning to slowly edge into groups. "Hang on a minute, what this ?" and his uncovering of the wound revealed the top plate firmly sunk into his bum and the bent wires holding it in !! Great easing of tension all round as we all realised that he had bitten himself in the bum with his own teeth (the mind boggles!!) We all started laughing as he was stretchered off to hospital to have them surgically removed !! The game re-started in a much better spirit of comradeship - but still hard fought - in fact I think the Met actually won that day 54 to 51 before we were called out to a different pit. The local press got hold of the story and I think it actually made the national press - "Policeman bites himself in the B**M" stanger than fiction !
Monday, September 05, 2005
Tales from the PSU
I mentioned in my previous post that the Police Suport Units(PSUs) evolved slowly but surely into the lean mean fighting machines you see today. When we first started up we had no special uniforms and were transported about in 39 seater coaches. We had special drills for "embussing" and "de-bussing" !! terms evocative of the Service I had not long left - We even marched about in columns of three - a bit military for my taste but we were learning how to be a team so I suppose the old ideas worked ! Our first bit of new kit was a small plastic shield that clipped on to the front of the ordinary helmet - still no velcro straps at this stage. This shield was supposed to protect your eyes if something was thrown at you - that's if the helmet stayed on long enough when you were dodging bits being thrown at you. Then there were the cadets ! - They were employed to be the "enemy" - and really seemed to enjoy their work. When they started slinging things they were really trying to hurt you ! We got more injuries in training than we ever got on the street. The Home Office sent a team to observe our training and they were horrified to find how realistic our training was - Apparantly we were supposed to have tennis balls thrown at us - ??? Big news - Our next installment was the "National" shield The long clip together in three shields. We went to a secret location - RAF Halton - to see the Training team demonstrate these new innovations (not withstanding that most of us were ex Service and all the Army types were used to them - having spent a long time in N Ireland I had seen most of the major cities through the distortion of one of them.) We were lined up to see the demo - a line of three men came out carrying the shields - centre shield plant and left and right clip in. Boot to hold the bottom down and then comes the man with the petrol bomb - throws it at the shield wall - it hits and lo and behold the centre shield starts to disintigrate !! Cue loud jeers from the assembled horde ! It turned out that they had been practicing with these three shields for days and had not read the instructions - They are only good for a few petrol bombs then need replacing. It (as usual) turned out that some of us knew more than the training team about them. On and on - black fireproof suits, Special helmets with bullet proof visors - short shields and long batons,better comms gear, armoured transit vans with grills to stop the bits and pieces thrown at us. A quick diversion into riot city - When the St Paul's riots were on in Bristol, we had similar and large scale race rioting in High Wycombe. We started running at about 6pm and eighteen hours later we were still patrolling. I started driving one of the transits about 9pm and we kept responding all night. Shop fronts going in, cars on fire, general rioting and petrol bombs everywhere ! about 5am I came in to re-fuel with an exhausted group in the back of the van who were asleep even before I stopped by the pumps. The Inspector came over as I was falling asleep whilst holding the hose. "How long have you been driving Mog?" says he "Can't remember" says me. "Go and get a cuppa and a rest for a bit. This is going on for a while longer and I shall need the whole PSU in a couple of hours as we are going to do a sweep through the Octogon". Exit Mog stage left to canteen - finds the rest of PSU stacked in heaps on floor, arm chairs etc, all flaked out ! Five minutes later Station Alarm goes. All suddenly awake and running whilst getting into gear. Down stairs at ramming speed - "What's up ??" someone shouts "Mog's transit has been hit by a petrol bomb, smashed through the grill and front screen- don't think it went off but Mog obviously got a face full of petrol and glass !!" "Aaaaah Mog what are you doing here ???!!" Still dazed and confused I said, "I got relieved 10 minutes ago, Mickys driving" The Inspector had forgotton to update the vehicle board (no computers in those days!!) Took a while to convince everyone that I was ok and it was poor old Micky in Wycombe General getting petrol washed out of his eyes and pieces of glass removed from his physog !When it all settled down late on Sunday evening and we stopped and managed to sort it all out, it appeared that Micky had finished filling the van, loaded fresh troops and out of the Nick down the overpass, round into Frogmoor and straight into a petrol bomb. There but for the grace of the Inspector went I !! I don't think he ever forgave me for that
Sunday, September 04, 2005
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.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Thoughts of Scaryduck
Today we went to a funeral in Bray She who must be obeyed's uncle had shuffled off the mortal coil and so we went back to Bray Church for the first time since we got married some 26 odd years ago - on the way home we decided to re-visit my old stamping grounds in Maidenhead.
The Six cross roads Gordon Road, All saints Avenue, St Marks Road, Judith's old School in Farm Road - the Place where we used to fly model planes up on the cricket pitch at Pinkneys Green,
past all the old pubs we used to go to, past the Thicket - where We used to go biking (see the original "Swiss Army Knife Story !!, and up past Temple Golf Course, and Hurley - Good Grief - they've removed the East Arms and the Black Boy has gone all politically correct ! On to Remenham ! - The hill down into Henley brought back memories of when my mate and I used to ride our old motorbikes from Maidenhead to Henley on a Sunday morning for a pint in the Angel or the Row Barge. We used to have several motorcycle cops in our area and it was guaranteed that we would come to their notice as we had done as much as we could to our bikes to make them into Norton Dominators, or Triumph Bonnevilles ( I had an old BSA 250cc C11G and Jimbo had a 350 matchless) We had put "Ace Clubman" handlebars on and invested in better exhaust pipes etc etc - to the point where, with a following wind, and going down hill (e.g. Remenham hill into Henley) we could reach speeds in excess of 50 mph - madness how can man breath at these speeds how can one control these snorting beasts - So, God bless him, one of the motor cycle cops, Angel by name, had followed us from Hurley and, being a fairly cunning sort of young tearaway I pulled away a bit and shouted to Jimbo - go down the hill like greased weasel shit and when we get 3/4 way down and, the important bit, before we get to the 30 mph signs,
brake like anything and we shall see, what we shall see. So bum in air and head down on tank down the hill we go - sure enough Angel gets his speed twin going and overtakes - waving us to slow down - he was obviously looking at us and not concentrating !! We braked like the "French Connection UK (or FCUK) and suddenly he realised that the right hander at the bottom was approaching and he was still at full "ramming speed" Har Har !! - How he got round the corner I'll never know but it was obviously a tribute to Police Motorcycle training !! Sparks everywhere and large black skid marks. Meanwhile, we had slowed down to a sedate 30 mph. He had nearly piled it into the bridge and was visibly shaken as we slowly cruised past the Wargrave turn (scaryduck country) and over the bridge to the High Street. We stopped up at the traffic lights and saw him approaching in the rear view mirrors. We went straight over the cross roads up to the Row Barge, and without looking left or right or at us he turned right towards Marlow !! Not long after he got me for "construction and use" offences (blown tail lamp bulb and seat not fitting correctly) But he knew Jimbo and I had had him well over and his attention was really only half hearted after that ! Strange but 20 years later I was a serving Police officer with his Son Bob, who was a really nice guy - even he admitted that his dad was a bit of a B****d in his youth