Brian's Brief Encounters

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

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mr & Mrs Smythe

It was the kind of house you could smell before you saw it.

Not that we had been there before.

As a Sunday afternoon starter for ten, we had been given “male and female arguing” to rush round to. Being an unfamiliar address and even having to look up the road on a map made it intriguing. There is no such thing as a non-domestic related “male and female arguing” call on a Sunday afternoon. At least this one had the promise of some new sexual shenanigans to be discussed over the canteen table.

Following our noses we knocked on the door. It was opened by a very well groomed septuagenarian lady. This was either going to be a non-starter or a doozy for the canteen. Looking past her I could see a neat and tidy hallway, added to which it was silent. This made me check the address with the door opener.

“Yes, that’s correct. Do come in.” Mrs Smythe almost shouted, indicating a door off the hallway.

For the first time in a while I felt the need to wipe my feet on the way in. As we walked to the indicated door I could now hear some faint whirring coming from behind it. Unable to identify it I steeled myself and checked my baton was close to hand, before turning the door handle.

“Tea, officers?” Mrs Smythe shrilled from behind us.

“What the….? Err…. yes please.” I replied trying to slow my heart rate and pushing my reflexively drawn weapon back into its holder. Mrs Smythe disappeared into what I presumed was the kitchen.

Peering around the door I could see another very neat room, this one complete with a dining table and chairs. Seated at the table was Mr Smythe. He looked up, smiled at us and waved to two vacant chairs before going back to his work.

There were several orderly stacks of bills and an old fashioned adding machine with a paper roll attached. Mr Smythe was picking up individual bills, shaking his head and tutting then entering a figure into the machine which whirred away. Another shake and tut then the bill was placed onto a different stack.

“Did you call us sir?” Thinking I should attempt some Police work.

No response. Pick, shake, tut, whir, tut, place continued for a few minutes until Mrs Smythe made a reappearance. A tray with matching bone china was placed in front of us. There was even a milk jug and floral tea cosy. Only three cups though, I sensed friction.

With the tea still brewing I made a second attempt at Police work.

“Why did you call us?”

“He’s being unreasonable again. I’ve had enough.” In a more normal tone this time.

“Oh. Have you called us before?”

“Never. We’ve been married for fifty three years.” Mrs Smythe then busied herself pouring the tea. My extensive domestic violence training had taught me to get both sides of the story before deciding who to handcuff. Sensing that I may fall short on the Positive Arrest policy in this case, I tried not to look too disheartened.

“Mr Smythe, have you been unreasonable?”

Nothing. Pick, shake, tut, whir, tut, place.

“I told you he was being unreasonable.”


“He turns his hearing aid off.” She added helpfully.



I wiped the tea off of the front of my shirt as George looked up and fiddled with the far side of his head. After some high pitched feedback, he smiled at us again.

“How can I help you?”

A brief conversation, conducted at near normal levels, revealed the crux of the matter. Sadly, there were to be no new x-rated canteen conversations. It appeared that Mrs Smythe often had a lot to say for herself and Mr Smythe wasn’t always in the mood to listen so he switched his newly acquired hearing aid off then smiled and nodded at appropriate times. After fifty three years of training he thought he had got this down to a fine art. Unfortunately, he had been rumbled.

Having had my tentative suggestion of counselling politely pooh-poohed, I had a brain wave. The Positive Arrest policymakers wouldn’t have been pleased.

“Have you considered Post-It notes?” There were smiles and appreciative nods all round.

“Will you stay for dinner?”

Regretfully, we had to make our excuses and leave to spend an hour writing this one up.

Straight after the roast beef with all the trimmings.

We didn’t want to be rude.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mrs Smith & Mr Jones

With Mr Smith ‘working abroad’ for several years.

Mr Jones often popped over to see Mrs Smith to provide company to her and her small children.

Not that I knew this when I took the disturbance in private premises call to her fourteenth floor des res at just after midnight. Thankfully the intercom and the door lock were broken, so we didn’t have to wait ten minutes for the person who called us to bother to answer the intercom. Nor did I have to wake anyone else in the block up.

The local authority had done their best with the lift and the light was still bright enough for us to be able to avoid standing in the unexplained puddle. Creaking upwards I thought back to the days when I tried to work out what the text of the call would actually turn out to be in reality. In this instance we had been given ‘female assaulted’. Which can mean just about anything.

Our loud knock was answered by a very irate and vertically challenged gentleman; wearing a shirt, tie, dress shoes and underpants. I was glad I hadn’t tried to guess the circumstances of this one. Leaving Mr Jones to tell his sorry tale to my colleague, I wandered in to the living room.

My highly trained eye took in the two children sat in front of Walt’s latest video blockbuster and the general tidiness of the room. Apart that is from the ironing board. Upon this was a pair of smart trousers. At least they had been smart before they had received an iron shaped scorch mark on the crotch area. Using my highly trained nose I guessed it was quite a recent addition.

Still defiantly holding the iron, a very stout Mrs Smith gave me her version of the tale. It seemed that Mr Jones had popped round on his way home from work to provide Mrs Smith with some company. In his haste to provide this company he had ripped a turn-up in his trousers. This he had done by trying to kick them off when they had inexplicably dropped to his ankles.

The damage had only been noticed after the ‘companionship’ had ended. Unwilling to return home to Mrs Jones with a flappy trouser leg, he had insisted that Mrs Smith break out the Wonder Web and the iron. This had caused some resentment. When Mr Jones then questioned Mrs Smith’s pressing prowess and offered some guidance, the friction had increased. At which point Mrs Smith had turned the iron up to the maximum and held it down on the crotch area of the trousers. With the hostility raised to fever pitch, Mr Jones had attempted to save his trousers by trying to pull Mrs Smith’s arm away.

“What happened then?” I asked.

“I kneed him in the balls.”

“Okay, then what?”

“He screamed and it woke the kids up, so I called you. After I had finished what I was doing.”

“At what point were you assaulted?” I asked, remembering the original call.

“He grabbed my arm.”

“Oh. Does it hurt?”

“Not anymore.” She replied, with a satisfied smile.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Wheels Of Justice

In days gone by other countries used to look to us for new ideas.

In the 21st century it seems that every ‘new idea’ we have has been tried and tested in another country first. Usually America. An eagle-eyed senior officer then spots it and hey presto we get a new policy. They get a big tick in their promotion box too. But that’s not why they brought the policy in. No, not at all.

Small Corner’s favourite call has had the new policy spin added to it recently. To much fanfare we’ve introduced a ‘Positive Arrest’ policy for all ‘disturbance in private premises’ calls. Strangely enough, this one came from the ‘Land of the Free’ too.

Not everyone over there seems entirely convinced with this course of action. But that’s not important right now. Not everyone over here is entirely convinced that this strategy gels with minor laws like PACE and The Human Rights Act. But that’s not important right now either.

At least it gives us all the chance to work our way through the criminal justice system. At great expense.

Having given this situation some thought. I’ve come up with a new idea. Don’t worry; I’m not after a tick in my promotion box. I just thought it might speed things up a bit and cut down on costs.

I’ve called it Brian’s Justice Bus©. For this idea to work I’ll need:-

One comfy bus with driver.

One Judge.

Twelve upstanding members of the community. Who have been chosen at random and were too slow to think up a good excuse as to why they shouldn’t be there.

One tea urn.

An assortment of pastries.

Then all we need to do is to wait for a suitable call. They’ll have to be patient; it could take twenty minutes or so. Once my colleagues and I have sorted out the initial melee they can be called in. Provided a real offence has been committed that is.

No need for a stuffy courtroom with everyone dressed in their Sunday best tracksuits. We’ll do this in the front room. Complete with all the sights, smells and sounds of the real world. If they’re really lucky the wide-screen TV volume may be muted and there’ll be an open window providing some much needed fresh air.

All of the interested parties can hold a copy of the nearest tabloid in the air and swear to tell the truth. Or their version of it at least, and we can begin. Questions will be asked by us. Not because we really want to hear all of the sordid details again, it’s just that we’re pretty good at asking questions. Nor will we have to ask very many, the interested parties are never normally very shy about putting their points of view across. Unless they’re in a Police interview room or court that is.

After this, questions from the floor will be taken if need be. The judge can then decide if there is a case to answer and if so by whom. He’ll direct the audience on what they should be considering and they can retire to the bus for tea and pastries and a good old chinwag. We’ll keep the judge awake by chatting about mutual friends from the Lodge.

If the twelve pillars of the community return a guilty verdict on one or more of the interested parties the judge can swing into action. Any sentence passed will start with immediate effect and we’ll whisk the guilty off to the appropriate prison, probation office or anger management class.

In the unlikely event that we get a ‘Not Guilty’, they can all pile back on the bus and drive around the corner. Best not to go too far as we’ll all be going back within half an hour or so.

Although my idea may save the hard pressed taxpayer squillions, I don’t think it’ll catch on just yet.

Not unless someone in America tries it first that is.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


What you missed: An explanation of a lack of posts due to a holiday.

Unreserved apologies to: Anyone who has never had a holiday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Plan D

You know those cartoon fights?

Where they don’t want to show any actual violence to the kiddies? Instead they have a big cloud of dust, lots of sound effects and the occasional arm and leg appearing? Well this was our Plan D. It was like 5 Tweety Pies trying to subdue Brutus.

To a chorus of booing and hissing from the now very brave Hank fan club, we set about trying to restore our dignity. Our mission was to keep Hank down and apply some handcuffs. Hank’s aims weren’t very obvious, though it was safe to say that lying down and allowing himself to be handcuffed wasn’t high on his list.

Shields, batons, torches and incapacitant sprays are useless for this type of work and they went skittering off into the darkness as we dived in.

“I’ve got a leg!” Someone shrieked.

That would be me then. I managed to get both legs in a bear-hug and hung on for dear life. It wasn’t clear to me what was going on at the other end of Hank. When a 330lb man is lying on his front, and you have his legs in a bear-hug, this means that your head is in close proximity to his gluteus maximus. Everything goes a bit dark and quiet after that. I was just thankful he wasn’t lying on his back.

After what seemed like an eternity punctuated by an assortment of muffled “oofs”, swearing and roaring from Hank; silence reigned. Without relaxing my grip I extracted my head and opened my eyes.

Three pairs of handcuffs forming a daisy chain across Hank’s back had his wrists connected together. Four indistinct and panting shapes confirmed that we had all lived to tell the tale. The heavy breathing of Hank made it six for six.

The ever helpful Inspector managed to locate his torch and the enormity of the situation was revealed. Closely followed by a lot of pointing, at me, and laughing. Gee, thanks guys. I quickly moved my position closer to Hank’s knees before someone got their camera phone out.

Now it was time for stage two of our cunning plan. The good thing about being in a crossed wires hospital is that they have drugs. Lots of drugs. A trembling doctor holding a syringe was summoned.

“Enough to knock a bull out for hours.” He assured us as he stuck the needle in Hank’s posterior.

“Just give it five minutes.” He continued knowledgably.

Twenty minutes and three injections later, Hank was snoring peacefully.

Stage three required us to get Hank from the corridor and into the ‘secure’ room. The bad thing about being in a crossed wires hospital, as we were about to find out, is that none of their beds have wheels. Nor do they have a forklift truck handy when you most need it. Even if they could find a wheelchair with all its bits still attached it wouldn’t have been much use.

If you’ve never tried to carry a 330lb, sweaty, snoring, dead weight for thirty yards; I can thoroughly not recommend it. Not without a complicated system of winches and pulleys. A fireman’s lift was definitely out.

With each of us grabbing hold of a piece we lifted and staggered. Being the ‘leg guy’ meant I had my arms wrapped around Hank’s knees. In what I believe the Kama Sutra may describe as ‘The Wheelbarrow’ position.

I’m not sure if it was the combination of drugs, the fight or flight syndrome or just a dodgy kebab. But, being the ‘leg guy’ in the ‘wheelbarrow’ position is not the place you want to be when a 330lb man has a windy tummy.

“******* ****!” We chorused.

“Sorry.” A sleepy Hank mumbled.

“****! He’s awake!” With eyes streaming and trying not to breathe in, we staggered past his fan club and into the secure room.

Fortunately, Hank had gone back to snoring. Long enough for us to arrange him on the mattress, remove the handcuffs and lock the very flimsy door on our way out.

The trembling doctor seemed concerned.

“What do we do if he wakes up?”

Halfway to the exit door, and fresh air, the ever helpful Inspector shouted back.

“Pray that he’s in a better mood.”

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Plan C

After a quick team huddle a plan was hatched.

It was a very familiar plan.

In Small Corner we like to keep things simple.

I was despatched to search the cars for a bazooka or a harpoon. After successfully resisting the temptation to drive off, I returned with the next best thing. Two small plastic shields. Or what Hank might call ‘dinner plates’.

Realising that possession of a shield may entail being at the front and therefore closest to Hank, I tried to hand them to my colleagues. Only one of them was stupid enough to take one. Great.

With far too much pushing from behind, we advanced slowly up into Hank’s lair.

At one end of a very dark corridor was what appeared at first glance to be an igloo. A closer look suggested that it might be a very large man, wrapped in a white blanket, sitting in a corner. He looked very peaceful and my heart rate slowed a touch. This was going to be a doddle.

At the other end of the passageway was a gaggle of assorted Galactic Travellers in their night clothes, clearly roused by the kerfuffle. Hank-v-The Met was going to be their equivalent of WWF. No-one had had the time to make any placards, but I’m sure I could see them passing round the popcorn. If they had a book running I’d bet that the smart money was on Hank. That’s where mine would have been.

Between Hank and his fans were the remnants of a number of security light fittings and what had once been a wheelchair. Evidently Hank had an issue with switches and had preferred to turn the lights out by separating the fittings from the ceiling, some ten feet above the ground. I guessed that this might have been the much mentioned ‘kinda scary’ behaviour.

Still, Hank looked ‘kinda asleep’ now. Hoping he had vented his angst, we sneaked up on him.

“Hello Hank”

Nothing. I lifted my head from behind my shield and tried again in a slightly less squeaky voice.

“You alright mate?”

The blanket twitched. We froze.

Having crunched over broken glass and plastic for the last twenty paces I had realised something very important. Whatever planet Hank was currently visiting was a dark and comforting one, probably Pluto. Light wasn’t something that he needed or wanted in his life right now. If that was what Hank wanted that was fine by me.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Inspector School covers the etiquette of visiting 330lb men on their own planets. Either that or he was just being helpful from his position of covering our backs. For there can be no other explanation for his decision to shine a very bright torch into Hank’s face. Cheers for that Guv.

Hank roared.

“****!” We backed off slowly.

Hank got to his feet.

“******* ****!” We backed off less slowly.

Hank charged.

“Run!” We ran.

The Pamplonese would have been impressed as we legged it towards Hank’s fan club, who were now scattering for cover; popcorn and betting slips long forgotten.

Thankfully, someone had carelessly left a dismembered wheelchair in Hank’s path. A wet dream for a Personal Injury lawyer, not far off it for us.

Hank tripped.

We stopped.

Hank crashed to the floor.

We pounced.

(…to be completed…)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hank's World

Hank wasn’t a real galactic traveller.

He was only visiting from America.

When we got the call to assist staff at our local crossed wires hospital with a violent patient we trundled along through sheer intrigue. It’s very rare for us to receive a call like this. Normally the staff manage to get some drugs into them quicker than you can “Just say No”. Either that or they direct them to the exit door and then call us in to report a missing person.

Fortunately we weren’t the only unit attracted by the mystery. One other pair of officers and an Inspector had turned up to play. We were all met by some very worried looking staff and a petite young American lady. She and her boyfriend, Hank, had taken advantage of a college break and were visiting The Throbbing Metropolis. During a visit to a discotheque Hank had turned “kinda funny”.

They had then begun their journey into the National Health Service. A journey which would have been made far easier had Miss Petite known that Hank had visited a pharmacist in a dark corner of the discotheque. Either the pharmacist had a sense of humour or he had misread Hank’s prescription when he dispensed some equine steroids to him.

A central Throbbing hospital had put a big tick in the too difficult box and sent the couple to the Small Corner Institute for Mysteries. Arriving in a near comatose state, Hank had gone from “kinda funny” to “kinda scary” in a short space of time. A fascinating tale, yet it didn’t explain why we had been called to assist in the early hours of a Sunday morning. The staff are well versed in “kinda scary” techniques.

A near traumatised staff member gave us a clue.

“He’s a big boy”

The ever helpful Miss Petite proudly explained that Hank had a college scholarship which wasn’t of the academic variety. He was a football player of some note. My appreciation of strange sports, gained through my satellite TV subscription, made me realise she didn’t mean he gelled his hair every Saturday at 3pm and ran around kicking a round ball.

“He’s a starter on the offensive line.” She said.

****! I thought.

“He’s 330 pounds.” She continued.

“******* ****!!” We all said in unison, staring at Miss Petite in awe and wonderment. I winced for her.

With the mystery solved a plan was required. Unfortunately, Plan A was out. We had an Inspector with us and he’d get upset if we ran away. I suggested Plan B, which involved holding a door open and me demonstrating my penmanship on a missing persons form. Regrettably, Hank was holed up in a second floor corridor. A long way from the nearest fire escape.

What we needed was a Plan C.

Or a Bazooka.

(…to be continued…)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ralph's World

While I was watching TV one evening.

So were Ralph’s neighbours.

Ralph doesn’t like anything electrical, so he doesn’t have a TV in his council flat. Not that he needs one. He has a bigger cast of characters in his head than Weatherfield and Walford combined. Sometimes Ralph gets upset when others try to talk to him through his walls. Then he is more prone to listen to one of his more mischievous characters.

The one that tells him to take a shovel to his neighbour’s windows.

While I was channel hopping, eight of my colleagues were discussing their options. Most had dealt with Ralph before and knew that the contents of their belt kits were slightly worse than useless. Little metal sticks tend to annoy him and the best use for a can of incapacitant spray is to throw it at him and hope for a lucky shot. No-one could remember if a stun gun had worked in the past, so one was called for.

Before anyone could test the theory, another of Ralph’s characters took over. The one that transports him to a calm, peaceful planet with trees and birdsong in abundance. Probably Chipping Neptune, I’ve heard it’s nice there. A swift and painless arrest followed.

Ralph is one of those who is firmly in the trick cyclist’s ‘too difficult’ box and has been labelled ‘untreatable’ by them. In other words, he’s our problem not theirs.

While I was tucked up in bed reading a tale of derring-do.

Ralph was refusing to come out of his cell to be interviewed, much to the relief of the interviewing officers.

While I was satisfying the call of my prostate in the early hours.

Ralph was being charged through the wicket of his cell door.

While I was minding my own business in custody the following morning, the court van arrived.

“Brian, go and get Ralph out to go to court.”

Gulp. I’m not sure who was more nervous, me or the private security man who was going to have Ralph chained to his wrist very shortly. I knocked politely on the door of his ensuite before speaking to him through the wicket.

“Mr Ralph, the very nice people are here to take you on a day trip.”

“**** *** you ******* ****, can’t you see I’m ******* sleeping?”

“He said ‘no’ sarge. Can we leave him for late-turn?”

The private security man thought this was a good idea too. His nervous tic had gone. Unfortunately we were outranked and I was despatched to put Plan B into action.

Returning a few minutes later with a tight-head prop and a second row colossus, I bravely opened the cell door. In time to witness Ralph doing his morning yoga routine. Which involved head-high kicks and some vicious looking shadow chopping. The nervous tic was catching. I closed the door again.

“He still says ‘no’ sarge.”

Plan C was hatched. I was a big fan of Plan C. It involved a phone call and a forty five minute wait for a van load of specialists. More importantly, I wouldn’t be able to help them. The security man was in the Plan C fan club too; he wouldn’t be able to wait.

I briefed the specialists when they arrived, including a risk assessment obviously. This part took a while. I then made sure I wasn’t going to get in anyone’s way and busied myself at a safe distance. After a couple of minutes of quiet discussion, a docile Ralph came out of his cell. Clearly he was back in Chipping Neptune.

With Ralph safely on his way to court with a van load of slightly bemused specialists, I made a mental note to pay a welfare visit on his neighbours.

To ask them to turn their TV down in future.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Curly's World

Curly has issues.

Not with me though. We’re good mates.

Curly’s biggest issue is his failure to take his yellow pills and his white pills. This is why Curly and I are good mates. On the list of regular ‘disturbance in private premises’ addresses, Curly’s is close to the top. Still, at least I know that no-one is going to be screaming at me to ‘take him away’. Nor am I likely to get an expletive filled history of sexual infidelity.

One of Curly’s most endearing features is that he is mute during his frequent journeys to other parts of the Milky Way. Apart from the occasional scream that is. His other good qualities include his height and weight, which wouldn’t scare Nick Nack.

May Day and Elektra King should beware though. Curly’s second biggest issue is women. Wherever his Galactic travels take him is obviously to a place where women are not welcome. I’m quite sure that many suitably qualified people have asked him about his relationship with his mother. They probably nodded sagely when he replied. I don’t think I’ll bother asking.

On this occasion I have a slight problem as we potter towards Curly’s place. I’m sitting next to Miss Moneypenny. Being a 21st Century sort of guy, I consider how I should explain Curly’s misogynist views to my trusty sidekick without getting into trouble. She’s very keen.

“Curly doesn’t like women.”


“If he comes near you just duck.”


I think the risk assessment people would have been proud. Just in time too as we’ve pulled up outside. Immediately I can see that Curly has gone for the full set of issues this evening. Whenever he hasn’t taken his medication his legs hurt, which he emphasises by pounding on his thighs with his fists. Curly also likes to throw things. Everything remotely chuckable has been removed from his front room, so he ‘vents’ on the curtains and pulls them down.

This evening we have a new twist. He’s managed to get the curtain pole down too, and is standing on the coffee table brandishing it like some sort of midget ninja. Beating his legs with it from time to time to highlight the pain in them. Mrs Curly and their four daughters are barricaded in the front bedroom as normal. Having long since tired of repairing their door, Mrs Curly throws me the key.

Entry into Curly’s orbit requires that I adopt my best ‘scolding a seven tear old’ tone.

“Put that down!” One curtain pole dropped.

“Sit down!” One meek and mild midget in an armchair.

At least the ambulance crew have turned up; one’s male so it should make things easier. They’re both Curly virgins and a quick explanation is in order. While all the males relax on the three piece suite, the ladies get busy searching for Curly’s pills. This time they have been cunningly hidden, under a flannel, in an otherwise empty bathtub. He’s a crafty one.

The medical experts sort out the correct combination (two yellow and one white, should you be visiting) and they are given to Curly with a plastic tumbler of water.

“Take your pills!” Three pills swallowed. I don’t even have to ask for him to open his mouth and lift his tongue. Curly knows when he’s beat.

With fifteen minutes to kill, I use two of them by ringing speedial #47 on my phone to speak to Curly’s brother Moe. He’s already had the call from Mrs Curly and is on his way. While the girls are upstairs removing barricades I use the rest of the time to have a blokey chat with the ambulance man.

Just as we reach agreement that the curtain pole holes would be best filed with plaster, we’re interrupted.

“Tea, Brian?”

That’ll be my cue to leave then.

Curly makes awful tea.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Kevin's World

“Brian receiving?”

Excellent timing. Just as I was investigating the contents of a greasy bag.


“Can you back up unit X?”


“Galactic traveller having a violent episode. He’s seven foot tall.”

I guess that qualifies as ‘needing back up’ then. As we threaded our way through Lilliput towards Gulliver’s house I imparted some wisdom onto my able young assistant.

“He’ll never be that big. People always exaggerate.”

We found unit X hiding around the corner awaiting our arrival. They assured me that they hadn’t heard anything and suggested a light tapping on the door would be in order. Followed by a rapid retreat and a ‘no reply’ result. Too slow, the door was flung open before we could practice our E&E tactics. I found myself staring at the chin of a middle aged Amazonian.

“It’s our son. We can’t control him.”

Dad was behind Amazon, looking over her head. After a brief resume of Kevin’s crossed wires history, I was directed to the front room. I hoped they had adopted.

Among the chaos that had once been a homely room was a very long figure lying on the floor. With a T-shirt over his head. It seemed the satellite receiver and widescreen had survived the onslaught. Late night music TV was on with the sound off. I cleared some debris off the pale green leather sofa and sat down to watch an angry looking man with lots of bling swivel his hips around, nearly in time with a number of near-naked ladies.

“You gotta fag?”

There was a suspicious looking eye peering out from over the T-shirt. I flashed the ash and lit us up. Using the largest remaining part of an ashtray, we smoked in silence for a few minutes. Kevin stared at me while I watched another angry looking man and some more semi-nudes. He had a lot of tattoos visible through his string vest and an interesting handkerchief on his head. Maybe he was from Blackpool?

We finished our cigarettes at the same time as the angry looking man gave his final mean and moody look into the camera. The picture changed to an advert for a dating service. Time to act, if only to stop Kevin from dialling a premium rate number.


“They don’t understand me. I got angry.”


“You gonna arrest me?”

“Not unless you want me to.”


“Wanna go see a doctor instead?”

“Yeah, okay.”

With a definite plan of action, Kevin stood up to put his T-shirt back on. At the same time proving that recessed ceiling lights do have their uses.

As we wandered over to unit X’s car I asked “You’re never seven foot, are you?”

“Nah, six ten.”


“Do you think I can have the blue lights on?”

“Maybe if you ask nicely.”

As unit X sped off towards the home of the crossed wires doctors, with all of its warning equipment blazing, I turned to my able young assistant.

“See? I told you people always exaggerate.”

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Welcome To My World

I have a special skill.

Other than being a FIFA standard matrimonial referee that is.

I am blessed with the ability to communicate in a number of different languages. Although these aren’t any tongues you’re likely to learn at school. As far as I know they’re not even on the syllabus at any of our more progressive Polytechnics. No, unless you have racked up enough space miles to buy a desert island you won’t have any knowledge of these.

Fortunately, Small Corner has plenty of refugees from the Saturn/Jupiter war. So I get plenty of opportunities to perfect the correct idioms for these. My Plutonese isn’t too shabby either. You never know when you’re going to need them. One minute you could be having a semi-rational conversation. The next it lapses into something slightly less Earth-y.

This is when you’ll be needing Brian’s handy English/Galactic Traveller Guidebook.

Chapter One- Opening Gambit.

Question one:- “When was the last time you were in hospital?”

Straightaway they’ll know you’re fluent. They won’t think back to the last time they were having their haemorrhoids lasered off.

Question two:- “Which hospital was it?”

This is where an intimate knowledge of all of the hospitals, across the South of England, who specialise in treating inter-planetary conditions, is crucial. If the answer is one of the three or four who need to use Kryptonite in their treatment plans then call for some friends. Now.

If they mention one of the others that operate the usual open door policy, then you can proceed.

Question three:- “What were you being treated for?”

Normally the answer is one of the more common ‘crossed wires’ conditions. But, you probably knew that anyway. No need to panic if it is. However, if they mention the word “untreatable”, then call for some friends. Not all of our trick cyclists have travelled the entire galaxy and there is the occasional person that has them flummoxed. No sense tying the bed up then is there? Not when you can get them into a bed-sit in Small Corner.

Chapter Two- Street Diagnosis.

This is where you have to work out if the Galactic Traveller is near enough to the Ozone layer to be able to re-enter without the assistance of our health system. Invariably the answer is ‘no’. But hey, it’s worth a shot. Discussions about medication are common, but don’t tell you a lot. I prefer something more innocent, like chatting about the most recent reality TV show. Providing their answers err towards homicidal thoughts about all of the contestants, then you can leave them to go about their business.

Don’t forget that non-verbal communication is Universal. So check for signs like a fixed stare at your personal radio or nudity in the High Street. Even clutching a bloodied hatchet can be a good indication.

Chapter Three- Closure.

Now you’ve realised that the traveller is going to need some assistance to get them back on terra-firma. It’s time a decision was made. Only it’s best if you’re not the one making it. The trick is to get them to make the decision, and then you can enthusiastically agree. It’s much easier that way.

Especially if you’re out of Kryptonite.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Do You Want Fries With That?

Having used a yard or so of baling twine.

I’ve made sure my buttons won’t be going anywhere for another couple of years.

I’ve been pondering too. About packing my lunchbox. In theory this doesn’t appear to be too much of a problem. I mean if busy parents can do it for their children every day, it can’t be that tricky; can it? There are a few fellow Throbbers who manage it. Granted it’s normally in the week before payday. Or, if they’re one of The Spice Girls who needs to eat certain foods to keep up with their dietary supplements.

These lunches usually consist of a Tupperware container filled with pasta, a yoghurt and some fruit. This means they’ve managed to plan to buy the food in advance. They’ve cooked it and cooled it and then remembered to bring it to work with them. Then they’ve carried it round in a nice warm Police car for a few hours before heartily tucking in. Is it just me?

There are alternatives though.

Throbbing fact circa 20th Century:- You’re never more than a few yards from a rat.

Throbbing fact circa 21st Century:- You’re never more than a few yards from a fast food establishment.

At last, a chance to vary our deep fried diet.

There are a few rules to follow though. You can’t just eat anywhere, it has to have been recommended by a colleague. Recommendations usually include phrases like “I didn’t die” and “GTP”. Don’t go to places frequented by ne’er do wells either. There’s nothing like having to take a crime report to take the edge off your chicken chow mein. By using these two simple rules the thousand plus Small Corner haute cuisine practitioners can be whittled down to less than a dozen.

Then there’s the Joe Pesci rule. I have no worries about receiving the wrong order when using a drive thru. What does concern me is the possibility of an extra helping of the server’s DNA in with my special sauce. The same goes for deliveries. Who knows what free extra topping you might get?

With the downfall of Super-size and an influx of healthy options, the Dark Forces have got a little concerned. So much so, that they have employed a new shock tactic. The visiting clinic. This is our chance to be poked, prodded and sucked of a thumb-full of blood.

Idle curiosity took me to one of these recently. It appears I am as near to death as it is possible to get without having a terminal illness or actually being deceased. In other words, normal; for a Police officer that is. It seemed I wasn’t the first prime specimen he’d examined.

He suggested a change of lifestyle.

I asked him who would be there to answer the 3am ‘disturbance in private premises’ calls.

He suggested a change of diet.

I handed him a copy of the canteen menu.

We both agreed that Jamie needed some more exposure.

Small Corner wasn’t his first station visit either.

He’d brought a Tupperware box.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Tunic Conspiracy

Sentenced to two years.

It’s almost laughable, yet it’s the widely held belief that this is normal. After many pay days of hard work, this is the result. All that blood, sweat and tears; not to mention the stress. I blame the government. They have their Dark Forces at work.

Occasionally, I read about someone who got their just desserts. In the ever helpful Human Resources Notices under ‘Deaths of Retired Officers’. There seems to be an unwritten rule that they have to have retired at least ten years prior to their death before they get their names in print. The Dark Forces’ spin doctors won’t let the true picture be shown.

Like internet virus warnings and broccoli, no-one knows the origins of this ‘well known fact’. It just is, okay? At my final binge drinking session after serving my fellow Throbbers for 30 years I know I’ll be getting pitying looks. There’ll probably even be a sweep. If I get the God job the smart money will be on ‘eternity’.

The government agents start their mission early. To become an officer these days you have to prove that you aren’t morbidly obese, you can nearly read and write, you aren’t about to drop dead and you can break into a slow trot without passing out. They like to know you can last until retirement age. Then they can start their evil toil.

It all begins with the secret agents at Hendon. They call themselves uniform fitters, but we all know their true role. Otherwise, how can you explain the tunic fitting? Unlike the rest of our uniforms these are designed to last for a whole career. We only wear them at important courts, interviews and when we are receiving open and honest feedback. They usually smell musty. Or sweaty. Depending on how good you are at answering questions.

You are never issued with a tunic that actually fits. It is measured to allow for a certain amount of give. This way you can tell how close someone is to retirement. If an officer looks like they are wearing a hand-me-down from Brian Blessed’s big brother, then you know they have a long way to go. If, on the other hand, the buttons look like they could be imminently launched into the next street, then they’re not far off the big three-oh.

You see, the uniform fitters have allies in the Throbbing canteen staff. It is their secret aim to turn us from a service of slow trotters into one of Fat Camp rejects. If only Jamie Oliver knew what we were being fed. He’d be round with his planned menus faster than you can say ‘Potentially lucrative TV series where the opportunity for a large amount of exposure and the chance to poke fun at porky coppers is assured’.

He would be met by looks of horror if he even tried to suggest ‘drizzling’ when it comes to using anything fat based. We much prefer ‘drowning’ or ‘dunking’. If he mentioned equally strange words like ‘vegetable’ or perhaps even ‘healthy’ he may get kicked out of the building.

A Throbbing vegetable comes in the form of the pea you try to find among the forest of deep fried food. You may get lucky if you ordered a salad. Although, most people can’t face eating something that a starving rabbit turned his nose up at. I suppose the vegetarian option could be the way to go. That would be scampi (deep fried), chips (next to the scampi), a random pea (tinned and fried to taste) and a slice of lemon then.

Perhaps we could bring a packed lunch in. It’s a thought. Not a very good one. But, at least it’s a thought.

I’ll have a think about it.

While I sew some buttons on a bit tighter.

All ramblings Copyright(c) 2005/2006 by Brian. Ask First.