Brian's Brief Encounters

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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Party On

Apologies for not posting last week.

I was tied up at the largest street festival in Europe. It’s something I look forward to every year, not as much as my electricity bill, but not far off. Try as I might, I can’t avoid either of them, until I get some solar panels fitted I suppose.

I especially enjoy getting there ridiculously early. That increases my chances of bumping into an actual resident. They’re the ones making sure their minions have correctly fixed the Florida hurricane style protection to their multi-million pound pads. Just before they flee the area until the middle of the week, by which time they hope the council will have removed the urine and faeces from their doorsteps. I guess they’re just party poopers.

With everything removable removed and everything breakable covered up it’s time to turn the streets over to swarms of jolly officers and even jollier crowd barrier operatives. We’re always there hours before anyone else being very diligent. I really like it when successive ranks of supervisors make their decisions on just how and where we should be standing/walking when there is no-one else there but departing residents and super keen Japanese tourists with their Nikons on overdrive.

Doing ‘pulse’ patrols up and down two hundred yards of deserted road at 8am with six colleagues is just exercise, it’s not policing. I know you can get your runner to write something in your decision log that might get you noticed by whoever you’re sucking up to this month, but wouldn’t it be more productive to leave us at the feeding centre playing contract for an extra hour or two?

When the noise gets going the senior officers generally retreat somewhere to strategise and make important decisions, like how many biscuits. When I say ‘noise’ it’s a little bit hard to describe, but I can feel and see my shirt moving with the bass that gets pumped out from the dozens of ‘floats’. Even this loses its novelty effect after the third scruffy articulated lorry populated by a sweaty, deaf collection of whistle blowers lumbers past. It’s not quite the Hastings Town Show. There are less Victoria sponges and unusually large butternut squashes for a start.

It’s at around this time when we need to use our honed policing skills to deal with the marauding groups of disaffected youths getting into the party mood. So long as it fits into our mission, vision and values and is commensurate to the event we are dealing with of course. Suffice to say, if you’re struggling for cannabis detections your worries are over. Public order fanatics will get their fill too. So long as it’s not a foot outside the route of course, in which case it’ll be unrelated to the event. Yeah right.

This year some colleagues got to show their prowess at the brick & bottle quickstep. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a bit like Morris dancing only with less handbells. I’m sure Bruno, Arlene and Len would have given them a ten and Craig would probably have knocked one out over the strapping men in uniforms.

I missed all that. Instead, I got to meet the real heroes of the event. Chris, Rebecca and Christine may have been flaunting their medals in front of a flag waving Bozza. But, they were nowhere to be seen when the 302 portaloos needed emptying were they?

No they weren’t, but I met the men who were.

We didn’t shake hands.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thug Life

I wasn’t always this angelic.

There was a time in my life that my mother would rather forget.

The time when I was a big fish in The Piranha Posse to be exact.

It wasn’t for very long, just while I was a teenager doing my bit for the disaffected yoof. The members were all from the same inner city collection of vertical communities much vaunted in the drug addled sixties and seventies. These days the liberal fashionistas would call it a ghetto and be clamouring to star in a documentary filmed there, and Jeremy Kyle would have most of the residents on speed-dial.

We were formed shortly after the opening of our new chip shop. It wasn’t called ‘The Piranha’ as the owner, Andy, probably didn’t think that would draw many customers in. Besides, piranhas are very bony and a bit hard to find at Billingsgate. We could hardly call ourselves the ‘Golden Cod Posse’ could we? Not if we wanted to keep our dignity we couldn’t.

Andy always had the latest video game machine in the shop and a permanent special on out of date saveloys. Gang membership was obviously subject to an initiation ceremony which was pretty gruesome in nature. Anything that involves pickled eggs and a Casio stopwatch is never going to be pretty is it?

Once in though, you were able to show off your prowess in the quest for the Holy Grail that was the Pac Man fifth key. Any non member found at the controls when a Pee-Pee comrade was waiting with his ten pence in his hand got many a hard stare I can tell you. If they looked like getting close to the high score they may even have been the recipient of a tut or two.

Our intimidation didn’t stop there, oh no. Every now and then there was tension between us and our sworn enemies, The Kebab Krew. This often happened when they dissed the product range Andy offered, or when we suggested that the doners they offered weren’t strictly all meat. Every now and then someone’s pride would be wounded enough to prompt some fisticuffs. Trying to get chilli sauce stains off faded jeans and pastel coloured desert boots afterwards was quite a challenge.

Towards the end of that era, true to form, the Yanks turned up in the shape of the MacMuffin Massive and tried to impress out ladyfolk with their brash behaviour. An uneasy truce brought a temporary alliance with the Kebabers to combat the superior numbers. Summer evenings were the favourite time for dozens of takeaway fanatics to gather to take part in lively debates about the merits of their particular cuisines of choice.

Occasionally, someone would find the noise too much and they couldn’t quite hear Jack and Vera’s latest domestic so they’d get on the phone and invite the biggest group of fast food connoisseurs along to join the party. Bobby’s Boyz would turn up in numbers in their green Transits to have some fun and generally get some much needed exercise. They never brought a bottle though. Cheapskates.

Things have moved on since then.

For a start, the names have got sillier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

With All Due Respect

I may have been away knitting.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention.

The thing is, my working hours are filled with an endless stream of initiatives and new ideas. It makes for an entertaining and varied life I can tell you. At the start of most weeks I like to think I’m a crime fighter, just for nostalgic purposes you understand. This illusion is usually shattered by the time I’ve read through the office-spam that has built up over my relaxing break from the front-line.

By Day Two, I’m back in my proper role as either an HM Government statistics mandarin or form filling executive. It doesn’t matter much to me anymore; I get paid exactly the same amount for ticking boxes as I do for catching burglars. There are perks to the former too. I mean, how many forms with astonishingly smelly feet do you think I have to strip-search?

I’m sure it’s a relief for all of you to know that, while I‘m otherwise engaged, someone else is keeping a lid on things and making sure you’re safe. There was much fanfare to their launch, just two short years ago, and they even managed to identify forty zones worthy of their attention. None of which were in the Throbbing Metropolis, but why would we have needed their help here?

At the time, a minister got upset at critics and said they weren’t going to walk away from the problem. Nor was there any mention of ASBO’s, maybe because they were receiving a general panning at the time. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was that we were getting all this extra expertise. I’d really like to find out what a cracking job they surely did. Only I can’t.

You see, there is no longer any sign of them. Perhaps this means they’ve solved the problem and we now have a country full of respectful citizens? Well, in forty zones at least. Or maybe we don’t; as the links now take you to a new youth crime action plan. The wheel has been re-invented yet again and ASBO’s are back in fashion for this season.

I can’t believe how callously the squad has been chucked onto the scrapheap. I hope they got a good package after their twenty four months of toil. The cynical among you may question why we had them in the first place. You may want to point out that Sir Robert Peel came up with a good concept a couple of hundred years ago.

His squad is still going strong to this day and can often be found tackling yobbishness on a weekend night. They’ve even been known to tick the right boxes on the forms afterwards. In fact, some of them foolishly believe that getting stuck into ruffians and scallywags is what they were employed for in the first place. I know, I know, obviously this isn’t the case; what were they thinking?

The new action plan, set to be with us for the next twelve years, makes only one passing reference to policing and nothing at all about what the role of Sir Robert’s misguided disciples will be taking in all of this. Maybe the ex-members of the defunct Respect Squad are all over this one too. Let’s hope so.

We all know what a fine job they did.

Don’t we?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Data Con

With true British reserve.

We’re trying to make sure our prisoners keep up with the 21st Century.

The Home Office has been planning, for some time now, to let some of our incarcerated lads and lasses have limited access to the internet, for education purposes only of course. Obviously, this will only be used when there isn’t anything on their Plasma TVs, they’re suffering from Playstation thumb and their mobiles are charging.

Across the Atlantic, our special friends don’t let their inmates anywhere near the worldwide web. They recognise that it might be a bit of a security concern. I mean, you wouldn’t want the residents of Guantanamo Bay being allowed to discuss the pros and cons of US foreign policy on MSN with Osama would you?

Although unable to access the net directly, inmates in US prisons are allowed to put profiles onto a website to entice well-wishers to write to them, with the hope of leading to more. It’s a thriving community with two hundred people regularly online viewing the forum that accompanies the site. Now, maybe writing to a convict wasn’t top of your list of things to do today, but let me see if I can tempt you with some of those available:

How about Ralph? He’s a committed Christian who’s just killing time until his rape sentence finishes.

Or, there’s Kaniah who has a little bit of a drink problem. Best you drive on any date as she isn’t the luckiest behind the wheel after a few bevies.

Then we have Bryan, he’s particularly ambitious and lists his interests as ‘Property’, I’m sure he’ll be quite the entrepreneur as soon as he walks free from his embezzlement sentence.

Deborah caught my eye I have to confess, the unlucky lady has been recently widowed. I’m not sure if this was what resulted in her manslaughter conviction, but nothing ventured, nothing gained right?

Reuben says he’s caring and loveable; something the judge who sentenced him for aggravated battery clearly didn’t spot.

Darlene the child abuser helpfully confides that she’s disease-free. That’s a relief.

Eric the persistent burglar is happy to travel anywhere.

Brandi lists herself as a lonely thug. I don’t know why, she should be able to find someone of similar tastes not too far away.

Jimmie gets the award for optimism. He’s a budding globetrotter you see. Unfortunately, his next opportunity of travel, outside the prison system, will come sometime in 2029, parole board willing. His sentence wasn’t for jaywalking by the way, just in case you were wondering.

Lastly, there is potential sweetheart Sherrie, I’m not ashamed to say I’m smitten. It’s her adventurous spirit that I noticed. She may have just finished some federal time for importing drugs, but her determination to get her pilot’s licence as soon as she gets released has to be admired. You go girl!!

Not for the first time recently, I’ve thought:

You couldn’t make it up.

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