Tag Archives: police

Trading places – Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” – apparently. So it’s best not to hang around too long making them.

Seize the dime and all that.

Like Emeka Egbuono. Here he is getting east London inner city youth together with police officers in a role reversal exercise – to build mutual understanding and trust. He started as a participant and now he helps run them – as described in this excerpt from Emeka’s blog.

I remember being part of the pilot session…  I was 15 at the time and to be honest all we wanted to do was to have our weekly table tennis competition.

The police turned up in two vans. There were at least 9 of them for that first session.Everyone seemed uneasy with their presence, looked more like a raid to be honest.  They came with their plain clothes.  The session was not how I imagined, Janette project manger for The crib had to stimulate the discussion because she could sense  that none of us wanted to talk to the police.  Eventually after a few games that broke the ice, we started discussing issues that affect us, this was our chance to get our voice heard and if anything would happen after this was yet to be seen. We spoke about police tactics, stop and search, profiling, stereotypes, legal rights, and the justice system.  It was very interesting talking about all these things and seeing thing from a different perspective. It was all done in a respectful manner as everyone had equal say.

This was then followed by role reversal role playing between us and the police. An example of a scenario we had to do was that a group of young people were hanging around on the stairwell in block on the estate, a concerned resident calls the police to come and move them along because of the noise and what looks like fighting. So now we have the scenario, we now had to act as the police who turned up to deal with the situation, and the police were acting as the young people who were only play fighting with each other and having a laugh.

A Trading Places session – youth and police – pic from Emeka Egbuonu.

As the police officers we started off with the nice approach, but the police officers acting as young people did not go easy on us, they made it extremely difficult to resolve the situation. I think they have vast experience dealing with scurrilous youth because they were doing a good job. Eventually we had to use force and make them move along.

The second day was really interesting because the police now had to come in with their full uniform and the dynamics of the session changed.  There was a sense of animosity between us and the police, even though it was with the same officers from the day before Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends

And the award goes to…

Versatile Blogger Award

It’s official. This blog is  super awesome. How do I know? Because of these two awards.

Laurie nominated me for the “Versatile Blogger Award.” Thank you lovely Laurie from Ten Minute Missive.

And the dashing Duck of Indeed nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog Award.” Thank you Duck.

The rules of both awards are the same:

  1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers. (See list at the bottom.)
  2. Inform the bloggers of their nomination. (Working on it.)
  3. Share 7 random things about yourself. (See below.)
  4. Thank the blogger who nominated you. (I’ve done that above.)
  5. Add the award picture to your blog. (Done. – You’ll find the code for the award images at the bottom of this post.)

One Lovely Blog Award

If you’re one of the superlative blogs listed below – you have to go through this same rigmarole described above on your own blog to comfirm the award – or in this case – double award. (Sounds like a Readers Digest Exclusive Offer.)

Seven random revelations about me that have some truth to them – the short version is in bold:

  1. The tastiest drink I found was at a roadside cafe in northern Venezuela after being dropped off while hitching through the the littoral forest. Freshly squeezed passion fruit juice.
  2. I had to kneel on the road to get a lift out of Ballymena.
  3. I used to pick up the smelliest, dirtiest, wettest looking hitchhikers in Ireland – usually old farmers – because I thought nobody else would.
  4. The Gardai (police south of the Irish border) stopped to reprimand me for hitching on the motorway – and then kindly gave me a lift to the end of it.
  5. Perhaps the scariest road ride I had was against oncoming traffic and on the opposite hard shoulder on a busy road in Jamaica, as the driver of the minibus in which I was holding on wide-eyed, diced with a speeding car of armed men. Having a priest sitting beside me was no comfort. He was too thin to offer much in the way of cushioning.
  6. My first car was a (“You can’t wine and dine here in an auld“) Morris Minor which “used to be black as me father’s hat” till I sprayed it a rich bright candy yellow. The chrome became matt black. It had lovely wide wheels. It was a beautiful sight.
  7. Then one of the lovely wide wheels fell off…  I watched it bounce up the road away from me as the car slunk and tipped to a halt. (Luckily the engine of the motorbike I had been towing had just turned over, so I nipped on the back and we chased down the escaping car wheel. And off we went again Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under blogs, friends, Music

Olympic security dilemma solved

It took a soldier with a huge brain inside an outsized head to solve this security problem.

Last Saturday I set you a puzzle to solve. It was a security dilemma that sent a military guard at one of London’s Olympic venues scurrying off to find his sergeant. I laid out the scenario for you here, and asked you to guess what the sergeant decided to do – or what he should have done.

And I offered a prize for the correct or best answer – a CD single, I love the noise it makes by Declan Sinnott.

If you haven’t already, you can still have a guess. The original dilemma is described here.

But it was basically whether or not a spectator could/ would/ should be let into an Olympic venue with bottles inside which the water was frozen solid – keeping in mind that it’s forbidden to bring in liquids.

Here are some of your suggestions as to what happened Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under life

The day I went to Hell and back. Literally.

Me escaping from Hell/Hel - disguised as Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan's Express.

No really. This really is about the day I really went to Hell and back. Literally. (And I use that term advisedly.)*

I’ve mentioned Hell before, but I’m only telling you about this at the request of the Loose Bloggers Consortium (you can find their links if you scroll down the right hand side column), who are focussing on travel troubles.

And I think getting kicked out of Hell qualifies. In fact, Hell couldn’t hold me.* *

Going there in the first place seemed like such a good idea at the time. Unique destination. Bit quirky. Warm, though not quite as warm as we’ve all been led to believe Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium

Surprise as parent wins wet t-shirt contest

Hee hee – it’s great isn’t it? Whatever you were hoping for can’t be any better than this pic.

It’s catch up time with some of the strong things other people are up to.

Ras Jacobson from the Lessons for Teachers and Twits blog (for which I once revealed a shocking piece of personal history* via here) accidentally stumbles on to someone in trouble in webland. Very challenging and involves annorexia. Have a look here to see how she handles it.

Noble Cause Corruption (a police officer posting anonymously) is Continue reading

25 Comments

Filed under blogs

Culture

The Loose Bloggers Consortium said: Write about culture. The Fountains Abbey pub opposite St Mary’s Hospital immediately came to mind. A plaque on the wall claims that the bacterium that led to Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin could have wafted out the pub window along with beer fumes, across the road and into the window of his office – leading to the contamination of the culture in his petri dish. The rest is medical history. (And good news for some of my World War Two relatives.)

But I saw a different memorial more recently. While I was joining the great and arty to commemorate Ted Hughes the other day, a stone in memory of people who served in Malaya caught my eye.

The inscription read:

To commemorate the work of all those men and women of the British race who served Malaya 1786-1968

They shall come from the east and from the west and shall sit down in the kingdom of God

The pic I took was too rubbish to show you. There are better ones here, along with one of the Queen Mother unveiling it.

But the inscription raised questions for me. The British race? What is it? Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium

The Day I Met… Gerry Adams

He's the one in specs, paramilitary beret, no beard - an ice cream would just look silly.

(Fanfare.) It gives me great pleasure to present the next entry in the The Day I Met… competition. Here’s a taster:

I rushed through to the front to see two more extremely large “boys” wearing trench coats in a heat wave stood at the front with a third man. In trying to evacuate the premises, I nearly evacuated something else. The three at the front were close together. A shotgun with some fine buckshot might take all three out and then a run like buggery down the fields across the stream and don’t stop until I hit Larne and the boat to the mainland. It is amazing what goes through your mind when you believe you are about to be kidnapped!

The story continues below. This entry comes from… Actually I can’t tell you his name. (At least I think it’s a him.) Because he is keeping his true identity a secret. He writes about dodgy goings on in the police and the criminal justice system under the pseudynom Noble Cause Corruption. He’s a serving police officer in the UK, so Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Guest Posts, The Day I Met... Competition

Smile (for the Loose Bloggers Consortium)

Smiling has got me into a lot of trouble. It made me look guilty at school. Which is mad, because if I’d been guilty I’d have taken care to look innocently serious and preoccupied with work.

But maybe that’s why I wrote this take on smiling and how if you do smile, the whole world will not necessarily smile with you.

It’s an excerpt from my book Blackwatertown.

Here’s the context. Jolly Macken (Jolly being his ironic nickname) is a Royal Ulster Constabulary sergeant in Northern Ireland in the 1950s. He’s been walking a tightrope. He’s viewed with suspicion by his colleagues because he’s a Catholic – nominally anyway – in a mainly Protestant pro-British force. He’s not trusted by his co-religionists because he is in the employ of the Protestant-ruled state. Macken has just, with bad grace, led a baton charge of police and Protestant marchers to clear a Nationalist barricade and so let an Orange parade proceed through a Catholic village. Though the police action was successful, Macken himself was embarrassingly entangled in a bicycle thrown at him by a protestor.

The main players in this wee bit include Jolly Macken, the District Inspector (Macken’s superior officer, in attendance as a civilian and member of the Orange Order), the Worshipful Master (boss of the local branch of the Orange Order) and Big Jim (Lambeg drummer in the Orange band). Oh, and the word “Fenian” is used as a derogatory term for Catholic.

Macken came to with a start, his face full of pedals and handlebars. During the seconds he had been stunned, the rest of the attackers had surged over the barricade and were now coming to blows with the defenders. It didn’t last long. The fewer Catholics were soon put to flight by the combined forces of law and Orange Order.

Soon beefy-faced farmers had planted themselves on top of the barricade, and were leaning forward with their hands on their thighs, catching their breath. The general back slapping began. They gathered in excited chatter round Big Jim, who now sat panting on a boulder, his vast girth quivering. The sight of that alone would be enough to send me running for the hills, thought Macken, still knotted up with the bicycle.

After a few moments watching the world from ground level, Macken began to try to shift the bike from on top of him. That brought the other pedal, the one not pointing skywards over his face, sharply into his side. He hissed at the pain and let the bike settle back on top of him for a moment.

By now his efforts had caught the eye of the victorious mob. The Worshipful Master was taking control of the celebrations now, quietening down the war whoops. He led three cheers and a prayer of thanks. He also managed to find time to thank the loyal officers of Her Majesty for helping to preserve the integrity of Her highways. And to draw attention to one person in particular: “Sergeant Macken there. Sadly, he does not have the stamina of people who are proud to walk the Queen’s highway. He’s found himself a bike to get himself home.”

The taunts began. “Come on you monkey!”

“Sure yon’s more of an old goat. He got his head stuck in the fence going for the pasture beyond. Can’t you hear him bleating?”

Realising that no-one was rushing to help untangle him, Macken summoned all his annoyance to turn on his side and pull his legs underneath himself. Then he was able to stagger, crab-like, to his feet, a walking deckchair. This delighted his audience all the more.

“Look at Jolly. He’s belongs in the circus.”

Macken gingerly extricated himself and slowly straightened up, leaning on the dented bike with one hand, rubbing his back with the other. But the scorn in the District Inspector’s look was far more withering.

“Come on Sergeant, stop horsing around! You’ll not be catching them on that pile of junk. They’re away off over the bog. Let’s take control of the situation here.”

Macken clenched his teeth and angrily dashed the bent and buckled bicycle to the ground.

The routed defenders were by now disappearing over the bog and hills in the distance. The Worshipful Master was attempting to calm his warriors back into walkers, and corral them into some sort of order in preparation for the resumption of the triumphal procession.

The District Inspector meanwhile was close shouldered in muttered conference with the man mountain that was Big Jim. Macken noticed the red piping on his band uniform trousers, but realised he had never seen him wearing the military style jacket. Maybe he couldn’t find one to fit. The shirt sleeves rolled up over his broad arms revealed dull flecks of blood drying on the skin. Looks like Big Jim has bloodied a few noses, thought Macken.

As he took in the scene, other band members joined in, making a circle, remonstrating in raised voices. Macken thought he had better give the District Inspector his support. What now, he sighed to himself. Isn’t winning enough for them?

He pushed his way through to beside his senior officer. They were all gathered round the Lambeg Drum, sat squat like a broad round table on the roadway. Laid parallel across it like an extra long knife and fork, were two Malacca canes – tapered and thinly splintered at one end, the fatter ends pointing to Big Jim’s brawny reddened arms.

You have to admire the sheer brute will it takes to lug that huge drum along the road for miles, thought Macken, whacking it with such furious abandon that the hillsides themselves flinch.

There was a scattering of red dots on the goat skin of the drum, near where the drummer was pointing a finger aggressively towards the District Inspector. Macken smiled ruefully to himself at his mistake – the blood had come from the drummer’s own wrists, from repeated contact with the wooden rim of the big drum. No matter how bad the situation was, he reminded himself, jumping to conclusions could always make it seem more blood thirsty than it really was.

Macken realised too late, he had just made another, worse mistake. In some cultures, a smile may be disarming. In Ulster, a nod will do just as well. In fact, far better. You nod in acknowledgement, respect or agreement. A smile may be devious, deceitful, ridiculing or weak.

“Funny, is it? Now we have this friend of the Fenians rubbing it in too!”

Spit from the irate drummer shot across the face of the drum hitting both Macken and his senior officer.

“Thank you Macken,” said the District Inspector under his breath. “I was half way to persuading them not to worry about it – until your helpful intervention.”

“But what…”

The District Inspector looked up the hillside. Macken followed his gaze, to where a couple of small figures were jigging about on top of a large flat rock. What they were shouting, Macken couldn’t tell from this distance, but he presumed it had something to do with the piece of cloth they had hung from the front edge of the projecting rock.

Macken closed his eyes for a moment and cursed silently. It was the green, white and orange flag of the Irish Republic. An affront the Orangemen were not willing to let go, even if it was but a pinprick in the hide of an elephant.

“Sort it out, will you, Macken.”

“Sir?”

“Just get up there and get the bloody flag and let’s be on our way.”

What happens next? Well Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, My Writing

Phone hacking scandal: Who knew? Loads of us.

Can there any longer be any doubt that News International is a force of evil in the world? (This wasn’t my scheduled subject, but “events dear boy, events.”)

There are all sorts of pictures of perps and victims I could have used to illustrate this - but here's the Murdoch monkey at the top of the tree - the spider at the centre of the web. Unfortunately the bad smell does not come solely from him. There's a strong whiff very much closer to home.

They’re the reason I receive text messages like this:

Hi, I am unable to answer my phone at the moment but if you leave me a message, the News of the World will email it to me later.

 But the appalling behaviour of some journalists is not the most shocking part. What’s really scary is that the omertà of Britain’s press and politicians on phone-hacking amounts to complicity in crime Continue reading

21 Comments

Filed under media, politics

How many different words for snow, death… and farts?

Eskimos and Inuit are reputed to have many/seven/50/100 different words for snow. Though it may be a tundric myth. (And anyway, don’t we have snow, blizzard, sleet & slush – OK that’s only four, and I’m not sure about the last two.)

But anywhere with an unusually high number of different words detailing aspects of a phenomenon interests me. It evokes poetic lists. Like these from Belfast poet Michael Longley – The Ice-Cream Man.

Rum and raisin, vanilla, butterscotch, walnut, peach:

You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before

They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road

And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.

I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren

I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,

Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,

Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,

Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,

Yarrow, lady’s bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.

You can listen Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under art, language, poetry