Wake me up when it’s all over…..
It was Thursday 23rd June 2016 and I found myself standing in a voting booth, pencil poised. I allowed myself a last-minute ‘expert’ analysis on how the outcome would affect the world of policing. I concluded: a Leave result would mean further cuts in UK police budgets and fewer cops on the streets – whereas a Remain result would mean further cuts in UK police budgets and fewer cops on the streets. Hmm tough decision…..
I dragged myself home with considerable effort as I felt the distinct and terrifying onset of man-flu beginning. Oh dear, man-flu is a formidable enemy that strikes fear into the hearts of even the bravest warriors amongst the male species.
There was no decent television options to distract me. No footie – just a painful pause as the nation tried to recover from England’s bore-draw with Slovakia. Everyone seemed to be slagging Roy Hodgson off due to his questionable team selection tactics. Not me, I’m open minded, perhaps he’s a genius. Perhaps, in our world of ever depleting resources, the NPCC could even consider adopting his innovative team selection tactics by just putting our ‘second-string’ bobbies out in the week and resting the best ones for when it’s busier at the weekend!
I flicked on the news to see astronaut Tim Peake had returned to earth. After six months in space he said he was quite happy to ‘turn straight around and go back’. Well I bet his wife was delighted with that one! Perhaps he’d watched the England game or realised in was mid-summer’s day and I’d just put the central heating on!
Or perhaps having conquered space, he too, was starting with the onset of man-flu and feared the great battle ahead. I decided to drag my aching bones to bed. I couldn’t get excited about the referendum live results shows. After all the result was never in doubt: The bookies had stopped taking bets in the afternoon just as the odds on Brexit drifted to 7/1. Done deal then.
The man-flu had given me night fevers and a disrupted sleep. I switched on my laptop at 7.am. to slowly realise, that just like Tim Peake, I’d woken in a different world. A world outside of the European Union. Social media was screaming ‘Cameron will have to go!’ All our material goods would be worthless and we’ll all be living in cardboard boxes before the week was out.
‘Wow we actually went and did it then?’ Was my first reaction. My second reaction was ‘I need to write some childish Brexit jokes’. I left the political satire to the experts and settled for the tweet:
“I’m probably most excited about Spain leaving the EU because I think the hashtag Spexit will look funny” (yes I know it was infantile but I’d got man-flu).
Anyhow, I couldn’t ponder too much as I had to drag myself to Brighton to perform a ‘humorous’ after dinner speech at an awards ceremony. Now if you think policing is challenging you want to try making 400 builders laugh after they’d just had £40 billion ‘written off’ their market value in the last 12 hours. You’re not allowed a stab-proof vest under your dinner suit either!
I bid the builders goodbye and left them to their hard-won awards. I may have been at the very grand Grand Hotel in Brighton but it was a Lemsip and off to bed for me. The next morning I apprised myself of the post Brexit political fall-out.
Seven stages of grief
Any good bereavement councillor would point out that there are seven stages of grief to pass through before coming to terms with a great loss. The nation had teetered out of the first stage: Shock, taken on board a good dose of stage 2: Anger, before blindly stumbling head-first into stage 3: Denial! Apparently loads of people had accidentally put an ‘X’ in the wrong box (probably the same people who’d accidently re-elected the Tories last year) and now wanted a second referendum to make it all better. Perhaps we should collectively pen a restorative justice-style letter:
Dear EU, we all do silly things we later regret. How about we all say sorry, nip down to Asda for some Ferrero Rocher and we forget all about it? X
The rest of the world must have thought we were a bit barmy but I think that they should bear in mind that we’ve got consumer protection legislation which means we’re used to having a ‘14-day cooling-off period.’
Things were hotting up fast. Cameron had fallen on his posh sword, Nicola Sturgeon had a smirk the size of a Highlander’s sporran, Nigel had a bigger one, and it appeared that Boris, that astute political strategist in fools clothing, had played a blinder! Or had he?
Also stepping out of shadows into the Tory leadership fray was our very own Theresa May. She’d kept her head down for a couple of days as she was probably busy re-writing (or do I mean shredding?) the Human Rights Act and then decided to throw her hat into the ring.
Now I’m sure that every cop in the country was thinking the same as me on hearing this news “Oh no – not Theresa!” (often referred to in policing circles as Mother Theresa due to her nurturing disposition). ‘We don’t want to lose our Home Secretary who’s goaded guided us through difficult times’.
It was now Monday. The man-flu was still bossing my immune system but I had to be a brave little soldier as I was booked for a corporate in Warwickshire. Now this one was a bit bizarre and I suddenly found myself being chauffeured from a country mansion into a room containing 40 of the most powerful and influential men (sadly they were all men) in the global motor industry. I initially had absolutely no idea with whom I was dining. When the nice chap on my right told me he worked for Tata I said ‘that’s a coincidence I live in Scunthorpe’. That’s where our similarities ended he lived in India and when he said he worked for Tata he was the chap that oversaw quality control and finance for all Tata vehicles…which totalled quite a lot. Perhaps I’d have more luck with the chap on my left, he seemed very pleasant and on discovering I was a cop wanted to discuss ‘speed cameras’ which he ‘wasn’t keen on’. I glanced at his name badge which read ‘Richard Noble’. The name sort of rang a bell but I couldn’t place it until it very slowly dawned on me: It was the Richard Noble who’d held the land speed record for 15 years. Probably explains why he wasn’t keen on speed cameras!
Richard was good company and it turns out I wasn’t the first cop to be fooled by his modesty. He told me that a couple of years previously he’d been on a Speed Awareness Course and when some cocky traffic officer started to ask the class what was the fastest they’d ever driven they all started to shout up numbers whilst he sat there quietly. Then the traffic cop pointed to him and said ‘come on don’t be shy what’s the fastest you’ve driven when you’ve got carried away?’ To which Noble calmly responded “642.971 miles per hour”. My tales of policing the streets of Scunthorpe can’t compete with stories like that and I only drive a Peugeot 207 1.6 diesel but I did manage to eat my dessert quicker than him which I think still proves I have a competitive streak.
I got the feeling that this could be a tough crowd to impress but I strode up to the lectern in a confident manner and went for a topical opening remark. I said “I know I’m contracted to be paid in UK sterling for tonight but can I change my mind and ask for US dollars after recent events?” There was a few seconds silence. Nothing from the bloke who designed driverless cars in California’s Silicon Valley, just a smile from the head of Ferrari (perhaps the EU vote had upset him), but then the CEO of Aston Martin started to laugh and broke the ice. Unsurprising really seeing as the pound had lost 11% of its value and he quite liked to export super cars to the States with an 11% discount – I’d have been laughing too.
None of us were laughing for long when word landed that England had lost 2-1 to Iceland after a humiliatingly bad performance. I tried to look for the positive. Bearing in mind that the Yanks have gone off us lately, the Aussies can’t stand us after the cricket and rugby and now Europe hates us too it was probably a good idea to lose to Iceland as we need all the friends we can get.
Surely the only way this week could get any worse is if the ghost of Margaret Thatcher stood for the Tory leadership?
I said my goodbyes to the worlds motoring elite and disappeared back to the country mansion for another Lemsip and early night (and they say comedy is the new rock ‘n’ roll).
“Tis but a flesh wound”
I was wrong about the week getting worse as the following morning there was talk of an autumn election. Some of the Labour crew didn’t fancy the fight with Corbyn at the helm and speculation of an attempted coup was buzzing in the news. More than buzzing actually as front benchers were resigning in droves. By the end of the day I was beginning to understand why they called it a ‘shadow cabinet’ as there were only shadows left. MPs were changing so fast that anyone applying could only be offered a zero hours contract!
As I write this an official vote of no confidence has now been passed against the party leader but still he refuses to budge. I’m a massive fan of Jez Corbyn, he’s a proper oldskool warrior. He’s like ‘The Black Night’ in Python’s ‘Holy Grail’, in the woods with no arms and legs shouting “come back you coward tis but a flesh wound”. I don’t blame him, as a copper I know all about resilience and I think he’s right to tough it out. After all he’s only lost 51 MPs so far, if it was the Police we’d claim its improved efficiency and say “the frontline’s not affected”.
I suspect that it will take the nation a good while to work through the stages of grief and arrive at stage 7: Acceptance but I do hope that I’m wrong and we bounce back quickly. Anyway I can’t worry about it and I’m off to bed with a Lemsip. Hopefully I’ll wake up in the morning only to discover that this barmy week has just been a really bad dream.