Writing the stuff down that's not allowed on the AWARE terminal.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Fats Navarro

This is one of my dad’s favourite trumpet players and had the kind of bright sad life that jazz historians get all teary eyed about. It’s the kind of life my dad might have had if my mum hadn’t come along and taken care of him.

Born in 1923 in Key West, Florida Fats muscled into the New York jazz scene in the late 1940s playing with greats like Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins and Benny Goodman. My dad says that he might have been the greatest horn player ever if he hadn’t got hooked on smack, contracted TB and died in 1950 aged just 26.

Sometime I wonder if there isn’t something about really great jazz musicians that attracts this kind of self destructive behaviour but my dad says that anyone can be stupid it’s just that when they’ve got a talent you miss them when their gone.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

100% Brain

The incomparable constable Perky accused me of using the other 90% of my brain to do the things I’m not really supposed to talk about on a public forum. I asked her what she was talking about and she said it was a well known fact that we only 10% of our brain.

This, I suspect, is news to our brains or at least those of us who use to actually use them to think stuff. In the first instance it’s bollocks because keen people like Dr Walid have been attaching electrodes to people’s heads for years now and have found that we, surprise surprise, use all of our brain. In the second instance it wouldn’t make sense biologically since having a brain uses up some ridiculous percentage of our total energy budget and evolution doesn’t hand out free lunches to unnecessary organs – if you’re going to stay – says the organism – you’re going to work. So I don’t know about you personally but I’m using 100% of my brain all the time.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Thursday, 24 February 2011

University College Hospital

University College Hospital takes up two whole blocks between Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street. Founded in the nineteenth century, its main claim to fame was as the teaching hospital for the University College of London and the birthplace of one Peter Grant, apprentice wizard. Since that momentous day in the mid-1980s, half the site had been redeveloped into a gleaming blue and white tower that looked as if a bit of Brasilia had crash-landed in the middle of Victorian London.
Chapter 6: The Coach House

In 1848 it was the venue for the first ever operation conducted under a general anaesthetic and is currently a world centre for cryptopathology although only about three people actually know that. The eccentric Edwardian folly, known as the Cruciform Building, was built in 1906 but has recently been sold to the biology faculty of the University College London so that their students can do their strange and terrifying experiments in a suitably gothic environment.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Skeleton Army

In 1861 William Booth resigned from the Methodists in Liverpool and headed for London where, in the grand tradition of metropolitan reinvention, he founded his own church and took Christ, bread and social work to the heathen natives of east London. In 1878 he declared that he was tired of being called a volunteer and that he was a regular in the army of Christ or nothing at all; thus the Salvation Army was born.

But no army, however pure its motives, occupies a foreign country without resistance, and this was provided by the Skeleton Army. Driven by gin, bone-headedness and growling resentment that being the Victorian working class was bad enough without having to be preached at by a bunch of self-righteous northerners, the Skeleton Army broke up Salvation Army meetings, disrupted marches and attacked its officer corps.

The emblem of the Skeleton Army was a white skeleton against a black background – a badge worn by right-thinking ne’er-do-wells from Worthing to Bethnal Green.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Beverley Brook

Beverley Brook is a river in South London. She(1) rises in Worcester Park and meets the Thames opposite Craven Cottage(2). Unlike most of her sister tributaries most of Beverley Brook flows above ground and thus has a suburban character and isn't lost in any way whatsoever. In fact given that she runs through at least two Royal parks she's not nearly so 'street' as she likes to make out.

If you fancy a walk along her mossy banks where the newly reintroduced water vole gambols in a life and death struggle with the local domestic cat population then here is a map...

View Beverley Brook Walk in a larger map

(1) Definately female - trust me on this.
(2) Home ground of Fulham F.C.(3)
(3) F.C. stands for Football(4) Club.
(4) Football is the English word for soccer.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ugly Buildings: Horseferry Road

The City of Westminster Magistrates Court is around the back of Victoria Station on the Horseferry Road. It’s a bland box of a building built in the 1970s and is considered so lacking in architectural merit that there's talk of listing it so that it could be preserved for posterity as an awful warning.

Inside, the waiting areas maintain that unique combination of cramped busyness and barren inhumanity that was the glory of British architecture in the second half of the twentieth century.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Chocolate Valentine

I was looking for a cheap place to buy microprocessors but found myself browsing Ghanaian chocolate instead. Now for those of you who fell asleep during geography Ghana is a major producer of cocoa beans but like most developing nations gets itself royally screwed by the foreign companies that manufacture the actual product elsewhere. The real money in cash crops is what you do with them between the farm and the punter and the big mark up that involves. This is what economists call adding value and getting it done in your own country is the difference between actually being a developing country and being that shit poor place where bad things happen..

Obviously the Ghanaian Finance Ministry know this too and so to promote indigenous chocolate eating of indigenous chocolate they have declared the 14th of February as Chocolate Day. All over Ghana, they hope, romantic boys are giving romantic girls bars of Golden Tree chocolate (or maybe even the deluxe gift set). I on the other hand am spending Valentine’s day with my Police Officers handbook brushing up on my court procedure in case I have to give evidence at the magistrates court.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Things Not To Do: Losing Your Warrant Card

According to PC Perky our friend Special K managed to lose her warrant card while having drinks in the pub with five senior officers. Now she has to go down NSY and ‘explain’ what happened to the powers that be. Whatever else happens – there will be forms.

Warrant cards are very important because a) they identify you as a sworn constable with powers of arrest and detention and, in my case, a member of an organisation with more people in uniform than the Swedish Army. This can be a very comforting thought when you’re confronting belligerent drunks at three o’clock in the morning – especially if they’re from Stockholm.

They also b) get you free travel on the tube, trains and buses. That’s why most officers working in Central London live in the suburbs and commute, bigger house, cheap commute and the only draw back is that you’re living in the suburbs. Not me I now have the best rent free digs in the history of policing – with free food thrown in.

EDIT: NSY stands for New Scotland Yard.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

While Using the Tube

A few do’s and don’ts while travelling on the underground.

Do not stand around chatting to your friends while blocking the entire width of an access tunnel. Many commuters are desperate to get home and they wont mind if its over your crushed and bleeding body.

For the love of god when going up the escalator do not stand on the left. You walk up on the left and you stand on the right – it’s that simple.

If you are carrying a large rucksack try to make sure your hands are clearly visible at all times or you will find that your fellow passengers will slowly drift away towards the other end of the carriage. Do not leave your rucksack, or any other bag, unattended in the station or the carriage as having your luggage destroyed in a controlled explosion often offends.

Anita Blay Has Some Good Advice

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Because sometimes more really is more!

The TSG are the Territorial Support Group. These are the guys that tool around in Mercedes Sprinter vans with equipment lockers stuffed with everything from riot helmets to tasers. Every borough command has a couple of these buzzing around their operational area, especially at closing time, and there’s a reserve force held on standby just in case of unexpected events. I suspected that current events counted as unexpected.
Chapter 12: The Last Resort

We may take the piss, and we do, but sometimes, when you’re facing off against a pub full belligerent drunks or a hen party that’s just gone very very wrong there’s nothing quite as comforting as a TSG van pulling up to the curb. Because they only turn up when things go pear shaped they have most complaints of any branch of the Metropolitan Police. This allows us ordinary coppers to don our halos and basically blame everything that goes wrong on them.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Naked Ladies

Right next to Eel Pie Island, where my dad and Mick Jagger once played, is a council owned garden with a set of beautiful white marble statues of naked women. I looked them up on Wikipedia which gives the mundane story of how they come to be there but I have my own suspicions as to why they all got restoration treatment in 1989. My governor says that it’s an important shrine but he hasn’t told me who to yet.

More importantly the statues have inspired a local ale called, appropriately, The Naked Ladies. I’ve tried it and its very good. Now you don’t have to be half Sierra Leonean to appreciate the role beer plays in traditional religions as a libation and an outright bribe so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. If you you’re down there why have a look, have a pint and pay your respects.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Things Not To Do

Don't laugh this could easily happen to you.

Look how fast the robbers get in that car - I swear they must have practised that.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Capital City

I am a free man of London
and that makes me
a Prince of the City.

Chapter 13: London Bridge

Thursday, 3 February 2011

How to talk Proper

A good tutorial on how to talk proper if you unfortunate enough to be born posh or American. Study it well my son and you will find yourself blending in at any bleeding social event or appearing as an extra in 'Lie to Me'

The Iain West Forensic Suite

Its official name is the Iain West Forensic Suite, and it represents the Home Office’s best attempt to make one of its mortuaries look as cool as the ones in American TV shows. In order to keep filthy policemen from contaminating any trace evidence on the body, there was a special viewing area with live autopsies piped in by closed-circuit television. This had the effect of reducing even the most grisly post-mortem to nothing more than a gruesome TV documentary.
Chapter 2: Ghost Hunting Dog

The forensic suite is attached to Westminster Mortuary and is named after the cheerfully flamboyant pathologist Iain West. A man who’d had his gloved fingers inside the vitals of such luminaries as Robert Maxwell and Jill Dando and it’s down to him that we have a computerised database of injury photographs – never access this on a full stomach by the way. I personally could do without ever going in there again – thank you very much.

Our Founder

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
Alexander Pope

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Slang: Old Style

Jack: a detective.

Lurcher: Essentially your basic greyhound crossed with a collie or similar in order to produce a fast dog with brains that can be used for poaching, racing and hare coursing.

Lush: An alcoholic beverage .

Lushery: A place where a lush may be had. A low public house or drinking den.

Plant: A victim.

Put the jack on: Inform to the police (see Jack).

Slag: A person of low self esteem, a woman of loose morals, someone Ray Winstone doesn’t like.

The End of My Probation

The Metropolitan Police Service is still, despite what people think, a working-class organisation and as such rejects totally the notion of an officer class. That is why every newly minted constable, regardless of their educational background, has to spend a two-year probationary period as an ordinary plod on the streets. This is because nothing builds character like being abused, spat at and vomited on by members of the public.

Towards the end of your probation you start applying for positions in the various branches, directorates and operational command units that make up the force. Most probationers will continue on as full uniformed constables in one of the borough commands, and the Met hierarchy likes to stress that deciding to remain a uniformed constable doing vital work on the streets of London is a positive choice in and of itself. Somebody has to be abused, spat at and vomited on, and I for one applaud the brave men and women who are willing to step up and serve in that role.
Chapter 1: Material Witness

'You seem to have run out of city.'

From chapter 13: London Bridge

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Orientation II: Covent Garden

Some usefull vocabulary

Aggro – violence, aggravation, both of those at the same time.

Hendon – the Metropolitan Police's training school.

Nick - either
a) to make an arrest. ‘We wait outside the window and nick them when they come out with the TV…’ or the ever popular; ‘You’re nicked my son.’
b) a Police Station, presumably because it’s where you take people once you’ve nicked them. Hence ‘My nick’ ‘Down the nick’ or used as part of proper name ‘Charing Cross Nick.’
c) to steal. ‘Oi you nicked my telly’.

Metropolitan Police Ranks

PC or Police Constable: the brave men and women that are the back bone of the Police Service, out in all hours and weather to be selflessly spat at, abused and vomited on by members of the public. I for one salute them especially since I'm now no longer one of them.

DC or Detective Constable (DC): someone who has passed their detective exam and got a nice job in CID or a specialist unit. Try to get here as soon as possible in your career unless you've got your eye on ACPO (1).

Sergeant or Detective Sergeant (DS): Even more exams, even more paperwork, even more responsibility but on the other hand you get to boss people about. If you're friendly you can call a Detective Sergeant by their first name but I like to stick to sarge, guv or boss - just to be on the safe side.

Inspector or Detective Inspector (DI): this is where you get to be in charge of stuff, a shift, a specialist unit, one third of a murder squad. I've been told it's not as much fun as it sounds but I think I'll wait and see.

Chief Inspector or Detective Chief Inspector (DCI): Here you walk the razors edge between the light, ordinary plain speaking coppers, and the darkness, business speak obsessed control freaks. You will be a running a nick or a murder squad, people below you will be coming to you with their problems and will expect you to know what to do, your superiors will be coming to you with their problems and will expect you to sort them out!

Superintendent or Detective Superintendent (DSI): My boss is a DCI, in fact everybody I know's boss is a DCI. I don't know the precise purpose or function of this rank I just bloody well do what I'm told.

Chief Superintendent or Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS): Congratulations you are as high as you can go without selling your soul to ACPO(2). You are in charge of a entire Borough Command or a major specialised unit you definately have your own parking space that much is certain.

ACPO(3): stands for the Association of Chief Police Officers, a dark and sinister conspiracy that is part trade union, part coordinating committee for all the police forces and part NGO. You are inducted into ACPO when you reach the rank of Commander, beyond that are Deputy Assistant Commissioners, the Assistant Commissioners who stand at the left and right of the Commissioner himself, the Deputy Commissioner and finally the Commissioner himself.

(1) I'll explain later.
(2) Patience.
(3) See I said I'd explain later.