Brian's Brief Encounters

This is an Unofficial Kaffe Fassett fanzine. Brought to you from a Leafy Suburb of the Throbbing Metropolis.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Making Progress

If only George Dixon could see us now.

He’d be amazed at how far we’ve come.

‘Technology’ probably wasn’t a buzz-word in his day. We’re full of it now though.

You name it and the modern Police officer has it somewhere in his armoury. From the humble friction lock baton to satellites. If we need it, it’s there. Some of the time. The only slight niggle I have with technology is it’s a bit temperamental. It isn’t Policeman-proof.

I blame the disposable society in which we now live. I could hark back to the good old days. Days when all I would have to rely on were my sharp intellect and penmanship. Days when a dynamic risk assessment wasn’t required to escort a septuagenarian across the street. Though to be honest I do actually like some of the modern gizmos. Crumple zones and airbags spring to mind.

Imagine George with a personal radio. He could play the song title game on early shifts. As long as he wasn’t in a blackspot. Or it was raining. Or it was humid.

He could find lost cats much easier with the aid of a helicopter. So long as it wasn’t raining. Or a bit breezy. Or they had run out of fuel. Or Jess had strayed anywhere near an airport. Or it was past the pilot’s bedtime.

If things took a turn for the worse in downtown Dock Green he would be like a dog with two tails. Even if the lack of a strap caused his baton to slip from his grip. Or it failed to extend. Or lock. He could rely on his CS spray. Subject to one or two limitations. Obviously.

Like having forgotten to give the can it’s twice daily shake. Or being too far away. Or being too close. Or it being a bit breezy. Or the sprayee being as high as a kite, mentally challenged or both. Or spraying himself. Or, heaven forbid, forgetting to shout a warning first.

If all went well he could break out the Quick-cuffs. As long as they hadn’t fallen out of the inadequate holder during the hurly-burly bit. Or the cuffee had large wrists. Or small ones. Or he couldn’t remember one of the Home Office approved cuffing manoeuvres.

A van with a cage would then be available to him. As long as it was completely clear of the previous arrestee’s bodily fluids. Or wasn’t making a regular ‘disturbed house’ call. Or the anti-lock brakes hadn’t lived up to their hype.

Back at the station he could settle himself down in a climate controlled office. So long as it wasn’t the height of summer. He could log on to a computer. Server maintenance permitting. Using one of his fourteen passwords. Then type the same thing three times. On different software packages that haven’t quite mastered the art of talking to each other.

At some point he’ll have to turn back the clock. Reacquaint himself with a familiar friend. One that hasn’t changed much. A trusty ally he could rely on.

The Throbbing issue black biro.

So long as it wasn’t too cold.


At 27/6/05 8:41 PM, Blogger Frank P said...


Just to let you know that technology is not all that new, back in 1972, when Dixon of Dock Green was still extant, I was one of those involved in the first experimental Police Helicopter Unit at A8 Department at the Yard. It was great fun. We hired the choppers from Air Gregory in Denham along with the civvy pilots who were ‘wizard prang’ types. There were just two administrators for the Unit: the skipper and myself; so we appointed ourselves as two of the eight official helicopter observers and issued ourselves with tailor-made flying suits with impressive badges, then took a course on navigation at Air Gregory. At that time we were the only single-engine choppers allowed to fly over the MPD at large, rather than just along the Thames route. We used Hughes 300s or Bell Jet Rangers, two-seater jobs in those days and the Hughes was a little like sitting in a motorbike sidecar at 1000 to 3000 feet hairy if you suffer from vertigo, as I do. One of the favourite manoeuvres of one of the more adventurous sky-jockeys was to wander into the airspace at Heathrow and have fun hovering there, sandwiched between jet flights taking off below us and those on their on their landing runs. Most ‘observers’ found this somewhat disconcerting. At night it was particularly exciting. Hovering over Central London in summer with the thermals bouncing the aircraft around like a cork in the ocean could be entertaining, too. The night patrols were even more interesting. We discovered that one of the landfills just East of Slough could be turned into a raging inferno by hovering over it at about 30 feet. One day, a pilot who must remain nameless, one of the most cavalier of the chopper jockeys, arrived for the morning shift with his right wrist in a plaster-cast and a gash still oozing on his forehead, informing me that he had ‘had a few shandies’ the night before and crashed his three-wheeled Morgan. By the smell of his breath I gathered that the alcoholic content of the ‘shandy’ was probably whisky. In fact his speech was so slurred it could even have been whishkey. Now that really was an exciting shift. Particularly when he decided to start the day by announcing that he intended to sober up by getting his adrenaline going. This was achieved through vertically steep banking and plummeting over Denham at max G force – all with one hand. It worked fine for him, but after our third mock bombing run on the Denham control tower, which, on each occasion, we missed by about six inches I requested an emergency landing for toiletry purposes. He obliged, but what with the distance from the pad to the carsey and then the palaver of trying to get out of the zipped-up close-fitting flying suit, it all became a little embarrassing and I called for a replacement and went sick – quite literally. A couple of years later I learned that while surveying power lines on an assignment up north that particular pilot didn’t make it back to base.
BTW, Jack Warner was a real-life Special either at Paddington Green nick or Hammersmith if my memory serves me correctly so his depiction of George Dixon was based on real life observation and he would have experienced the joys of personal radios by then, albeit the type that were as big as the type carried by a WW2 wireless operator.


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