Brian's Brief Encounters

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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Much Memo Mirth

I do often wonder how we used to manage.

Before the electronic age I mean.

How did we ever know what direction the Force was taking that week? I think we just assumed it was the same as the previous century and we were supposed to be fighting crime. These days it’s not entirely clear, but at least we can be pointed at the right missive to put us straight.

In fact, I’m inundated with missives, none from the Supreme Being I hasten to add; I don’t think Jacqui has my email address. Everybody else knows it though and they are all itching to send me a quickie letting me know my shortcoming of that hour/day/week. Being at the bottom end of the totem pole means I have many, many imperfections and a profusion of people helping me come to terms with them.

I have to admit that I do try and inject some mirth into the lives of the defect highlighters wherever possible. It can’t be easy having to agonise over whether or not to send a message to a hard-pressed frontline officer who has made a simple error or omission. I’m almost certain they need to have counselling after every occasion.

There was the time I got sent a simple request to put a cross referencing number on a report that wasn’t initially required. I found an independent adjudicator to work a stopwatch that proved it took eleven seconds longer to send the email than it did to find the number. I pointed this out on my carefully worded reply to the good sergeant. I must say that the response I got to that was somewhat frosty. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to help? I mean eleven seconds at top sergeant rate must surely be very expensive?

Then there was Mary. Mary very eloquently let me know that ‘The flavour of the month report requires that you provide this information’. Now, I’m not one to pick a fight with a mouthpiece, she was only doing what the report had ordered her to do. So, I asked that she point out to her master that the information was recorded on a different form more appropriate to the circumstances. I also asked her to let the boss know that if this wasn’t good enough then perhaps it could meet me behind the bikesheds after work where we could sort it out man to err…report. All I got was silence, not even an invitation to an Anger Management course.

I can’t leave this subject without mentioning Detective Sergeant X. You see, DS X sent me an email with a glaring error that made the whole message funny. Unfortunately, DS X worked for the really serious department who only speak to us when we’ve (allegedly) been naughty. Much of DS X’s handful of years in the Service must have been spent studying to reach those dizzy heights, probably bunking off the lessons where a sense of humour was taught.

My jocular retort wasn’t taken in the spirit that it was meant and I’m now well aware that DS X takes his job and position very seriously and I should keep that in mind. If only he had said that in the first place.

Well, that’s for the foreseeable future.

Maybe next week he’ll get the message instructing him to have a sense of humour.

I live in hope.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Egg On My Tie

Something strange has happened since we last spoke.

No, I haven’t gone sick with stress.

Nor gone ‘on the square’.

I haven’t even transferred to the colonies with hundreds of my ex-colleagues.

No, it’s stranger than that: You see, I’ve become an old sweat.

This now means that the pens you can see in my pocket are there purely for show, and for filling in the overtime state of course. If you’re lucky enough to be my operator for the day then you may borrow one, if you ask respectfully, to record the details you’ll need to complete the various reports. When you’re done with it, I’ll be in the car.

Old sweat status is something that starts very early in the career of an officer. I mean, you don’t even have to have actually done any real policing yet. You first reach that level five weeks after joining Hendon. This was when the next intake started, and they were the beneficiaries of some sage-like advice from yours truly in the smoker’s alcove over an Old Holborn or two.

It didn’t stop there of course; I mean each succeeding intake needed some handy tips didn’t they? Although they were only recipients of our benevolence if we were in the mood, or they bought us a pint. Only then would we let them in on the secrets of getting through the dreaded traffic week. The awe on their faces was unmistakable.

There was a temporary hiatus in full status when first joining borough and finding oneself at the bottom of the totem pole and struggling to run the tea club at a profit. Remembering to get the milk before each shift is, thankfully, a short-lived task as there will soon be a replacement joining fresh out of Hendon.

This is yet another opportunity to take a sharp intake of breath and let them know how you managed to keep everyone in chocolate digestives whilst making a tidy sum on the side. If truth be told, you actually had to add it to your student debt and will be paying it off for a few years yet.

But that doesn’t matter. You see, there is now someone else to do all the crap jobs you used to do. It gets better too. Before you know it, you’ll be finished your probation and the fun really starts then. Especially when you get to drive a car. Not that you’ll be able to do anything the average motorist can’t at first. But, it’s an opportunity to get those Aviator shades out and look like you know what you’re doing. Even if it’s only to drive to sudden deaths and crime scenes.

At some point, someone will realise you’re no longer a liability and you’ll get to go to driving school to give those shades a real workout on a course. Provided you avoid the ditches and remember to pull before you push, you’ll get sent back to your division as a junior old sweat with your response classification. Now you can really let loose. Where are all the Basic drivers to take those crap calls? It wasn’t like that in your day was it? You always took the triple children’s home Mispers almost before the operator had finished putting the call out when you were a Panda-punter.

At some point you will have had enough consecutive years of not reversing the station van into immovable objects that someone thinks you’re worthy of the ultimate in accolades: The advanced driving course. Now, remember that no-one will ever find out you only got a Class Two unless you tell them. Nuff said.

So that’s it right? You’ve finally reached the status summit? Err…Not quite. There are still many questions left. Like Sergeants for instance. I mean, if they’re still telling you what to do then you’re not quite there yet. If they have to ask you nicely to do your job then you’re nearly at the peak.

Sadly, the final stages of sweatiness are more designed to highlight your advancing years. Before you know it you’ll be working with a partner who is young enough to be the fruits of your loins. Soon after this it’ll be apparent that you could have sired half of your team. That’s not the ultimate step though. That happens when you start working with officers who were born after you joined The Job.

Then it really is time to hang those pens up.

And swing that lamp for all it’s worth.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins

Years of nurturing.

Molly-coddling, research, trial and error and heartache has finally left you with a prize winning effort. Something you’d be proud to have judged by a retired chap with a handlebar moustache at the local fete.

Every day you go out to work and most of your colleagues are unaware of the dirty little secret you’ve got hidden away in your back garden. Maybe it’s an elephantine fruit or vegetable? Perhaps it’s an ornamental pond full of cherished Koi Carp?

Either way it doesn’t matter.

You may have an annual planner,fixed to the wall of your immaculate shed, listing everything you need to do, in glorious Technicolor, and all of your secret potions and mixtures arranged in alphabetical order. There may even be a technical manual or two to masticate over in those quiet moments when no-one is looking.

But it won’t mean a thing.

You see, at some point one of your neighbours is going to let you down. Not intentionally of course, but they will. In our aspirational world it’s always nice to keep up with the Jones’, and this will attract Billy. The only thing he wants to keep up with is his drug habit and he likes houses displaying the trappings of successful endeavourment.

You probably won’t even know the person Billy has chosen as an unwitting donor for his heroin fund. They could well live on the road you back on to and some distance away. Mrs Jones across the road does know Mr Ambitious and also knows that Billy is not one of the immediate family. So, when she gets woken by the noise Billy makes forcing a window she gets on the phone to us.

Now you’re in for it.

An unstoppable chain of events has now started. Mrs Jones will wake someone at Metcall up who will assign the unit furthest away, but the one round the corner will hear the call too and take it. Now, you may believe that Billy will get caught in the act and that will be that right?

Err…Not quite. No matter how subtle we like to be, any car racing up the road in the early hours of the morning will spook Billy into legging it. To go out the front would mean running straight into the arms of plod. Even without a stripy top and a bag marked ‘swag’ we’ll spot something is up. Instead, he’ll be on his toes out the back and the game will be well and truly afoot.

The first you’ll know about it is when the lithe and appropriately dressed Billy skips across your back garden and onto the next. You’ll wake just in time to look out and see the not quite so lissom officer heading for the fence separating your valuable produce form the outside world. He’ll be weighed down with equipment, several years of doughnut residue and enough disorder penalty tickets to keep the government in second home allowances for years to come.

You can try crossing your fingers, toes and those of your nearest and dearest too. You could pray to your chosen deity, rub the foot of an ex-rabbit touch every piece of wood you can lay your hands on, but it won’t make the slightest bit of difference. As the puffing officer launches himself over the fence there is only one place he’s going to land.

Try to keep a stiff upper lip at this point, just think of the compensation (probably about 29 pence per kilo with the current credit crunch). Don’t be tempted to go and look to see how bad the damage is, it’ll be total, trust me on this one. Besides, we’ll help you out with that anyway.

Standard practice would have the officer requesting support services at the same time as demolishing everything in his path. They’ll be along in a minute. First to arrive will be the owners of the voices so often heard on Police, Camera, Action. They’ll illuminate your garden with a very bright light. This will let you see the extent of the damage.

It’ll also help you witness the arrival of the burglar’s nemesis: The Mark One landshark. As the handler launches it over the fence into your garden you’ll have a front row seat, to watch the crowning moment to your horror night.

The cocking of a leg.

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