Alfie Moore’s ‘take’ on Brexit week…

 This feature was originally printed in Policing Insight and is re-published here for wider enjoyment

Alfie Moore - Detective hat & braces_Idil SukanWake 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.

Spexit

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’.

642.971

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.

Bermuda Triangle makes PCCs disappear…

This feature originally appeared in Policing Insight and is now published here for wider enjoyment……….

AlfieMoore_photoby_IdilSukan_shoutyIt was 2012 when Theresa May first began to impose the Police Commissioner American dream on the unwitting British Public. I can see why she did it: Who doesn’t look at the US policing model of donut munching and race riots and think “wow we need a bit of that action over here”? Unfortunately it was a bit of a cobbled together rush-job that just confused people with 90% of the public voting with their apathy. Although to be fair with the lack of easily digestible information available at the time we weren’t actually sure if PCC stood for Police and Crime Commissioner or Portaloo Contract Cleaner.

Now in 2016 numbers approaching a heady 25% made the effort to vote this time around, albeit with the help of a local election ‘piggyback’. That’s a bit like when I can’t be bothered to go to the supermarket because I’ve run out of chewing gum but when I happen to be there for meaningful provisions I’ll always grab a packet of Wrigley’s at the till.

I still don’t think that the public are very clear on the role, and indeed the potential value, of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Pointy stick

As a cynical cop, for me there’s an even bigger mystery than “do we want PCCs?” and that is “why would anybody actually want to be one?” My local Chief Constable earns circa £142,000 whereas her PCC is looking at £74,000. In what other walks of life does someone on half your salary take full responsibility for your performance and also have the power to sack you – unless your name is Ronaldo?

This unloved underpaid role is not exactly a secure job either. Especially when you consider that this mysterious area of Policedom has swallowed up more unfortunate souls than the Bermuda Triangle – with less than half being re-elected after their four year stint.

And let me take the Bermuda Triangle analogy a step further: As I see it a PCC has three main groups to keep sweet – the public, the police and the Home Secretary. If they focus on one point of the PCC triangle then they automatically turn their back on the other two, who will be prodding them in the back with a pointy stick demanding their attention.

One thing that is absolutely certain is that the pointy stick prodding will intensify. The first batch of fledgling PCCs were given time to find their little baby feet. Let’s face it they’ve not exactly been under the spotlight unless they chose to be à la Ann Barnes (I still cringe, do you?).

Yes they’ve popped up with the odd innovative (that’s PCC speak for recycled) idea and put the odd Chief on ‘gardening leave’, but they’ve generally been allowed to kiss a few babies, keep their heads down and live a pretty charmed life. That’s mainly because recorded crime has continued to drop in spite of the thick end of 25% budget cuts. I’m sure that Theresa, the Tories, the Chiefs, the HMIC, the PCCs and the local witch doctor have all taken credit for crime numbers dropping but when they start to rise, and we all know it’s coming, do you honestly think for one minute that any of the aforementioned will rush to take one for the team? Ha ha! Don’t make me laugh……..

When the numbers go bad rest assured that same witch doctor will be commissioned to carve a wax effigy of their local PCC who, in the absence of a stab vest, will end up with so many pointy stick holes in their backs they’ll look like a ‘Pin Cushion Character’ (Maybe that’s what PCC stands for?)

Humber grumbler

Some are already toughening up and sharpening their own sticks: Humberside PCC candidate Keith Hunter didn’t go for the softly softly nice guy approach adopted by many of the first batch of PCC candidates. Quite the opposite. He was quoted in the Hull Daily Mail as referring to Humberside Chief Constable, Justine Curran, as “almost invisible”.  To be fair, Mr Hunter was raised on the streets of Newcastle and anyone who’s watched Geordie Shore will know that those folks like to call a spade a weapon and are fans of being quite direct.

He also hinted that she was on 6 months’ probation to turn around performance – which is a bit harsh seeing as I’ve nicked dwelling burglars in Humberside who didn’t get that much.

Yes, I have to declare an interest in this one: Humberside is my force and former Chief Superintendent Keith Hunter is my old boss. I also have to consider that if I decide to return to policing as a senior office via the Direct Entry Scheme I want my application viewed favourably by Team Hunter-Curran. I am joking of course – I’ve got far too much practical policing experience to ever be considered for the Direct Entry Scheme.

Now I’m no expert on diplomacy but surely that quote will create a bit of tension now that Mr Hunter has been successfully elected as Humberside PCC? Picture their first meeting: Chief Curran sat at her desk wearing her hi-vis vest and asking, “can you see me now Keith?” PCC Hunter responding with an attempted repair job, “listen I know I said you were ‘almost invisible’ but I said it in a very smiley voice pet.”

G-Man  

Others seemed to get quite upset with Mr Hunter including no less than Tory big-hitter Chris Grayling, who even went as far as to suggest that Mr Hunter “may be unfit for public office”. That was nearly a lovely bit of gossip before people realised that the sentence didn’t actually mean anything. It’s that ‘may be’ tag at the front that completely nullifies all that follows. It’s like me saying Eric Pickles may be a part-time amateur erotic pole dancer or Jeremy Clarkson may be a vegan – might be, might not.

Mr Grayling was accused of ‘mudslinging’ and to be fair the ‘G-Man’ does like to voice his opinion – rightly or wrongly. You may remember him backing up those Christian folk for discriminating against that gay couple by turning them away from their bed and breakfast? In fact David Cameron was so impressed with Grayling’s total inability to grasp basic discrimination law that he made him Justice Secretary.

Sister Theresa

But say what you like about Christopher Grayling he does know his policing as he was Shadow Home Secretary….right up until the Tories actually got elected – oops! That must have felt like religiously polishing your Dad’s car every Sunday until the day finally arrives that you pass your test and arrive home to be greeted open-armed by your proud father who, with a tear in his eye, produces the car keys and throws them to your sister….and she can’t even drive!  The metaphorical sister in this case being Theresa May, of course.

Dog dancing

Looking down the list of results I have to say that I’m particularly disappointed by the lack of independent PCCs voted in. Only 3 out of 40. This is one aspect of the role that I really don’t get. When policing is trying desperately to depoliticise itself why do we have any PCCs affiliated to a political party – surely they should all be independent shouldn’t they?

Sadly one Independent – Ann Barnes – didn’t stand for Kent re-election and was succeeded by the Conservative candidate Mathew Scott. Mathew had a very busy start as his first job was to get the carpet cleaners in for the dog hair and then the FAB1 van needed a respray ready for the next Channel 4 documentary.

After her ‘Meet the Police and Crime Commissioner’ documentary faux pas Ann Barnes is an easy target. But poking fun at her always feels a bit like picking on that kid at school with the snotty nose and plastic sandals and so I don’t do it. In fact as a fellow performer I recognise her talent and I’m actually a big fan of hers. I happen to know that she didn’t stand for re-election as she was busy rehearsing a dog dancing routine for Britain’s Got Talent. Still with her luck she’ll have a brilliant audition but just be edited to look very bad.

In 2012 the voting public were asked to embrace PCCs and they said “no thanks” but they didn’t go away. In 2016 they were asked again and the public said “still not convinced”. Well neither am I but they’re still not going away and so perhaps it’s time to consider them a resource to be utilised. So I for one am going to say to our new Police and Crime Commissioners “congratulations and welcome”….oh and “watch your back!”

Open letter responding to Peter Hitchens’ accusation in The Mail about ‘Scaredy Cops’

Image by ClearLens

Image by ClearLens Photography

I was recently incensed when I read Peter Hitchens’ article in the Mail and wrote a letter to them expressing my strong counter viewpoint.  They printed an extract in The Mail on Sunday but below are my full thoughts.

Dear Peter Hitchens

As a comedian a lot of my time is spent taking the proverbial out of the police and as a veteran cop, I reckon I’m well qualified to investigate the laughter leads and am the first to acknowledge genuine ‘cock-ups’. There’s been an abundance of material to go at lately as cops try to balance on the wobbly thin blue tightrope between ever increasing public demand and the devastating effects of 25% budget cuts. Oh yes! The belly laughs have been coming thick and fast.

However when a headline like yours reads: ‘What’s the point of the police if they’re scared of the dark?’ that’s when I stop laughing.

The point of the police, Mr Hitchens, is to allow idiots like you to rest safely tucked up in your bed at night whilst dreaming up tomorrow’s daft Daily Mail headline.

You think it’s a good idea for cops to go marching through woodland into a disused quarry in the middle of the night to tackle 400 drunken ravers because they’re making a noise? Really?! You mentioned the ‘National Police Air Service’ budget – I’m surprised you didn’t suggest helicopters be fitted with ‘anti-rave water cannon’ as a proportionate response.

The reason the police held back is that they carried out what’s known in the trade as a risk assessment. All professions have them – even journalists. Although theirs historically have been: Should I loosen up my fingers? Is my swivel chair set at the correct height? Have I remembered to switch on my phone tap?

Let’s break that risk assessment down a little:
• What do we know? 200-400 young adults having a rave, some using alcohol.
• What risk do they pose? Low risk to themselves and others but they’re noisy.
• Do the police have a legal power to intervene? Yes.
• What are the intervention options? Basically go in quickly or wait.
• What are the likely consequences of going in quickly?

Well let’s say Avon and Somerset manage to round-up 20 officers from around the county (and that’s optimistic) and decided to go in. Setting aside the obvious risk of a difficult terrain at night there are likely three responses from the ravers:

The Mail on Sunday Letters - 29th May 2016

The Mail on Sunday Letters – 29th May 2016

1. They resist: 20 coppers versus 400 angry ravers – oh dear that’s not good!
2. The ravers starburst and run through dark woodland and into the town of Frome – oh dear that’s not good either is it?
3. They comply. Now you’ve got 400 young adults in the early hours of the morning for whom you have a duty of care. What do you reckon Mr Hitchens: Individually give them a lift home? Put    them up in a local B+B? Drop them at Frome bus stop at 1 a.m. and tell them to wait quietly for the next bus?

Any decent cop worth their salt knows that the consequences of marching into that rave were far more difficult to manage and far more dangerous than allowing the rave to continue where the risk was relatively contained.

Those cops at that Frome quarry found themselves quite literally between a rock and a hard place, because if they had’ve rushed in dozens of ‘frothing at the mouth’ journalists, would have been reaching for their laptops poised to write tomorrow’s ‘Bungling Bobbies….’ headline (once they’d loosened up their fingers and adjusted their swivel chairs of course).

A summary of my Hillsborough thoughts…

AlfieMoore_photoby_IdilSukan_shoutyBy the very nature of the business mistakes in policing are absolutely guaranteed. However the first rule that every wise old cop knows is: Never try to cover up your mistake and never ever EVER try to cover your mistake using a lie.

What is becoming clear is that is exactly what has happened with Hillsborough and it will continue to be a damaging scandal for many years to come.

My initial reaction is that it would be disrespectful for me to defend the Organisation considering that the families of the 96 finally had a positive result in the Coroner’s Court after 27 years trying. This should be their moment of victory – a brief respite to take comfort that there has at last been an official acknowledgement of unlawful activity before continuing their battle for justice.

I’m not going to defend the Organisation but I am going to defend the ordinary, honest, every day, working class cops and paramedics who went to work 27 years ago to help people and ended up in the middle of a tragedy that will haunt them for ever.

People starting accusations with, “all coppers are….” or “all coppers connected with Hillsborough are…” is the same type of shameful bigotry we see directed at minority groups all the time and it’s disrespectful, damaging and offensive to the thousands of good honest people that put themselves in the line of danger to keep us safe in our beds at night.

Let me be clear I’m not defending the Organisation’s lack of integrity in respect of Hillsborough. I am, in fact, absolutely blaming the Organisation – although I’m certainly not singling out South Yorkshire Police. I am blaming the UK Police Organisation of 1989 for promoting an internal culture of fear, bullying and intimidation that punished mistakes rather than one that promoted a culture which supported and rewarded openness and honesty.

‘Bad culture’ is like a festering sore that becomes infected and spreads through an organisation like a contagious disease. However, the source of the infection doesn’t spread from the bottom upwards – rather it spreads and contaminates from the top downwards.

Sadly it’s becoming apparent that ‘bad culture’ still lingers on in some parts of policing and so people like me can’t just blame the ‘bad old days’. I really hope that we look beyond the all-purpose “lessons have been learnt” and other blah blah generic rhetoric. This thing really needs forensically unpicking with an openness and honesty that has been sadly lacking for 27 years.

One thing I’m convinced of is that cultural problems within the Police are absolutely the responsibility of the people at the top of the Organisation and the politicians above them.

I still passionately believe that we have the finest Criminal Justice System in the world and now, more than ever, we need to demonstrate that and restore Public confidence in the Police Service. Great leadership, demonstrating absolute integrity will be a good start.

Moto Musings….

CostaHeading back up North after a gig in the lovely historic city of Bath, Mrs M and I called in at Tamworth Services for a caffeine and comfort break.

I did what I always do and nipped into the gents, walked to the furthest urinal, commenced a peepee as quickly as I could before somebody stood too close, which would mean I could only get started by taking my mind off actually starting….”two times 86½’s are 173….3 times 86½’s are…..” (do all blokes do that or is it just me?). Of course when I do get going I look up and realise there’s an mini advertising board in my eye-line….they put these over every individual urinal these days and I can only assume the marketing is never directed at middle-aged blokes who need reading glasses? I’m guessing, it may be, but I wouldn’t know as I’ve never managed to read one…

I zipped up, and marched to the sink. My heart sank: There was a sign above the hot tap that read: ‘CAUTION HOT WATER. Is this what the human race has come to? Is this where we now are in the cosmic pecking order? That we need to be reminded that hot water flows from the hot tap?

I’ll be honest, sometimes I could just pour myself a glass of full bodied red and weep.

Anyway, the next big decision – join the queue at Costa or walk straight up to the Eat and Drink Company (EDC) counter and get served with the same stuff straight away?….No brainer – stand in the Costa queue! I’ve had 20 years of being a cop I know how to form suspicion, there’s got to be a reason for their ‘no queue with cheaper prices’ scenario. I’m not falling for that old chestnut, do you think I’m daft? Do you think I was born yesterday Mr EDC?

So my wife kindly appreciated that I’d tired myself out a little providing a very polished, but somewhat continuous, police pursuit-style commentary on how everybody else’s driving fell well below the required standard (especially the baldy bloke doing 49 miles per hour in the offside lane of the restricted 50mph section of the M5 and not pulling over when I was behind him), and she insisted on waiting in the Costa queue whilst I recuperated.

I found a nice seat and now, time to relax…but then I saw him. The Costa employee. The one in the chocolate brown shirt with large letters across the back announcing ‘Barista’, and directly under this in symmetrical equispaced letters the word ‘Maestro’. This was no ordinary barista….this was the ‘Barista Maestro’!

I decided to Google the definition of the word ‘maestro’ on my phone. There was a slight delay as there was no signal for the good customers of Tamworth Services. Not without first joining the ‘Moto’ free internet service club. Once, that is, you’d provided various personal information they’d got no right to ask. Do you think they deliberately block perfectly serviceable common network Wi-Fi signals in order to force you into signing up and divulging your email address? (Take that for a conspiracy theory…I know how to form suspicion!)

Anyhow, the wait was not an issue as the service was so slow my Mrs had only moved up two places in the Costa queue before I’d become a member of the Moto Wi-Fi club. It’s difficult to describe how that feels: You know like the Marines are always marines, they’re family, brothers-in-arms who would die for each other and never leave another marine behind? Well it was nothing like that I just wanted a fucking signal to Google ‘maestro’!

Finally Google appeared and my dubiety was confirmed as unfounded. A ‘maestro’ is defined as a master, a teacher, eminent leader, doyen, authority, and yes…..virtuoso!

Fair enough then if you can’t trust the integrity of Google, who can you trust?

My trained eyes surveyed the Barista Maestro. Not to critique. I wasn’t looking for faults. Good cops have open minds. He was aged about 20 years, tall, slim, with hair to spare. He looked too young to be a Barista Maestro.

We’ve started a very controversial direct entry scheme into the police where civilians can now join as an Inspector, and in some cases, even Superintendent rank, but no one is drafted straight in at ‘Maestro’ level.

In the police we’re trained to scan people top down, which finished on a disappointing note as I have to apprise that the Maestro had unpolished shoes. Not just unpolished but dirty. Not just unpolished and dirty but significantly scuffed. But who am I to judge? This was the Barista Maestro. Perhaps he was making a statement, maybe an ironic, surreal, socio-political statement about austerity and poverty. Perhaps a strong ‘what you see is what you get’ message of ‘earthy honesty’, not like them ‘loners’ at Eat and Drink Company – they may have squeaky clean shoes but if there is no one around to hear them then did they ever squeak at all? (Probably works better with trees that one).

It required no more philosophical ponderings. Any further contemplation was futile, this was the Maestro and the Maestro had his reasons, which was reason enough.

My wife joined me with a welcome medium soya latte, a medium hot chocolate and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

“£9.20p”, she tutted!

I tried to guesstimate the cost of each item but quickly gave up as it wasn’t divisible by 86½. Anyway if I’m totally honest I’ve always been childish and I was distracted by the thought that ‘lemon drizzle’ sounds like an embarrassing symptom a middle-aged person displays from experiencing a risqué sex life whilst desperately grasping onto the last throes of Funtown before the love boat has sailed forever.

My wife quickly scanned the room from our dirty Costa cup-covered-table vantage point and made me aware of the rather obese, ginger-haired bloke, sat on the other side of the aisle. He looked very much like the American stand-up genius, Louis CK. Unfortunately this Louis CK version had found cholesterol before comedy, although it looked like he was still going for his chosen passion with 100% enthusiasm to be the best (or in this case the biggest) that he could be.

My wife informed me that the fat CK had just eaten his own generous portion of sandwiches and sausage roll, then finished off his wife’s, and now was checking the children’s left-overs for any discarded calories. I looked over. I did not judge him, after all I myself was born with the ‘greedy’ gene and know how to trough. Although I will say this, and believe me when I say it in a non-judgemental way, that this is the saddest thing I’ve ever written. I glanced over at his two small children, and the look in their eyes as they stared at their father, was not one of adoration and awe but rather of a despondent, “you’ll never see me grow up”. Kids are smarter than you think aren’t they?

It was then that my wife spotted him….the Maestro.

“See him over there?”

“Who?” I enquired.

Then she did that swivelly-eyed, noddy-head thing she does when she thinks she’s being subtle.

“Him with the scuffed shoes”, she explained, “Look how slowly he’s moving”.

I looked and saw the Barista Maestro had a two tiered trolley tray on wheels, onto which he gathered up dirty cups and plates. I have lived a full life but I’ve never seen anyone clear up dirty pots so slowly. He was stopping the trolley 5 feet short of the target table. Slowly walking over and picking up one plate, cup or napkin before walking 5 feet back to the trolley, loading up the solitary item, and then repeating the process.

I was shocked, the Maestro was moving in ultra-slow motion, almost defying the laws of gravity. Slower than an extra on a zombie B movie that was sacked for over-acting. Slower than the Chief Officer put in charge of tracking down the missing Westminster paedophile dossier, handed to Leon Britton in 1984 for safe keeping. Slower than the dead-behind-the-eyes-gum-chewing barista (non-Maestro) assistant working the till completely unflapped by the Costa Conga queue now snaking around Moto town and nearly into the car park.

I was starting to doubt the Barista Maestro. Surely virtuosos don’t move like they haven’t got a rush in them? I began a bout of synchronised tutting with my wife. Perhaps we’re getting old and grumpy, perhaps we’ve reached that age. Perhaps we’re Institutionalised Persistent Complainers….or perhaps some of the baristas of Tamworth Moto Services, up to and including Maestro level, are switched-off, sloth-like, uniform carriers who are the very reason for the ‘CAUTION HOT WATER’ warning above the hot taps.

Anyway, what I think I’ve been trying to say is if you go to Tamworth Services and there’s a queue at Costa then you might want to give the Eat and Drink Company a try.

Don’t be a thief Keith

Comic and police officer Alfie Moore has a word…

(Article originally appeared in the Correspondents section of Chortle: The UK Comedy Guide)

I’ve been having a great time bringing my show to the Perth FRINGEWORLD Festival where the lovely friendly Australian audiences are nearly as warm as the weather (which was 40 °C the week I arrived!)

On Saturday friends took me to see Aussie rock legend James Reyne in Freemantle. He played all his own songs – no covers. Then halfway through he stopped singing for brief bit of audience banter: a joke about a funeral wreath in the shape of a lifebuoy which I instantly recognised as a gag written Gary Delaney, a top quality professional UK comedian who writes deliciously clever one-liners. It was a bit odd travelling 9,127 miles across the globe to hear a rock legend telling one of my friend’s gags.

Now that’s OK isn’t it? James reciting someone else’s work? Well I guess so and I’m sure that every Saturday night bars across Oz have amateur bands belting out cover versions of James Reynes’ songs that he used many creative juices penning – without coughing up a single Australian dollar in royalties.

However, what happens when it’s professional comedians stealing jokes written by other professional comedians? Surely then there’s a case to answer?

By coincidence that very issue has been raised this week by the actions of comedy veteran Keith Chegwin – again. Cheggers has been causing a social media buzz, not because he’s about to launch a new TV show or stand-up tour – but over his continued stealing of comics’ jokes

Now, comedians these days write their own jokes – which are technically classed as ‘intellectual property’ (though to date I can’t think of a lawsuit whereby someone has collected back royalties from a stolen joke). It would be very messy trying to prove the originator and indeed proving just how creatively original that ‘original’ joke is.

Obviously there are no joke police (although I’m ideally qualified to take on that role) but joke thievery by fellow comedians is frowned upon. After all, a comedians’ jokes are their currency with which they pay their bills. Once they are stolen, it can affect their ability to earn an income.

That might sound far-fetched but if Peter Kay stole one of my jokes, and put it on his Christmas DVD, every time I subsequently tried to tell that joke on stage half the audience would finish the joke for me and the other half would shout ‘that’s Peter Kay’s joke!’ That means I could never tell my own joke again, preventing me earning an honest crust – effectively stealing the garlic bread from my mouth.

Anyhow, back to Keith ‘The Thief’ Chegwin. He seems to have taken joke stealing to a new level, and has surely overstepped the mark, by producing an app via which he will sell you his jokes. ‘His’ in this case meaning old gags that belong on Antiques Roadshow and some newer ones stolen from professional comedians’ current Twitter feeds. [Although the 99p app went free after an outcry].

When comedians started to complain he simply blocked them and carried on regardless – causing such a stir he picked up hundreds of new followers and got #JokeThief trending. So it’s looking like 1-0 to Tealeaf Chegwin but it might yet get interesting…

I mean if Cheggers is allowed to get away with it, and there’s no copyright protection for original creative comedy writing, then what’s stopping me cutting and pasting Iain Duncan Smith’s Welfare Reform Act and selling it to Kim Jong-Un?

Steve Bennett Keith ChegwinAnyway back to my own exciting career news and I’m very pleased to report the launch of my brand new character act who will be called ‘Kieth Chegwin’.

This pic is what I look like when I’m made up as ‘Kieth’.

‘Kieth’ will be available for cabaret nights but I’m particularly interested in securing him well paid corporate gigs. All enquiries please to

Anyway back to my own exciting career news and I’m very pleased to report the launch of my brand new character act who will be called ‘Kieth Chegwin’.

This pic is what I look like when I’m made up as ‘Kieth’.

‘Kieth’ will be available for cabaret nights but I’m particularly interested in securing him well paid corporate gigs. All enquiries please to imtherealkieth@chegwin.com

James Reyne was great by the way, although I have to admit that I was secretly pleased that when he told the brilliant Delaney gag it died on its arse for him.

Not as easy as it looks this comedy lark is it?

PS. In case you were wondering – the picture is actually of Keith Chegwin by Paul Williams – and he puts his shot online under a Creative Commons Licences, meaning he’s given permission for it to be shared with attribution.

That’s how you credit the ‘originator’, Cheggers.

James Reyne was great by the way, although I have to admit that I was secretly pleased that when he told the brilliant Delaney gag it died on its arse for him.

Not as easy as it looks this comedy lark is it?

PS. In case you were wondering – the picture is actually of Keith Chegwin by Paul Williams – and he puts his shots online under a Creative Commons Licences, meaning he’s given permission for it to be shared with attribution.

That’s how you credit the ‘originator’, Cheggers.

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Christmas headshot(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore – no relation)

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The world was a-sleeping in our Christmas story

When the silence was shattered by loud Snorey Moorey ……….
All Mrs Moore wants for Christmas is a hefty dose of Silent Night.

As I’ve got older I’ve become a snorer. I took some convincing as I’ve never actually heard myself….well up until the point my wife recorded me on her iPhone as irrefutable evidence that I sounded like a log sawing machine on full tilt.

I took advantage of our wonderful National Health Service and went to see my doctor who passed me onto the ENT Department at the local hospital. In spite of their impending bankruptcy they were concerned enough to lend me a monitor to see if I had sleep apnoea.

Before my wife had time to top up my life insurance the machine informed that my blood oxygen remained constant and I didn’t actually stop breathing during the night.

However after some nasal prodding the consultant announced my nasal septum was deviated. “Have you ever had my nose dislocated?” he asked. I confirmed I had, several years previously, by a gang of little cherubs, none too keen on the cops, who decided to beat my nose sideways. In fact it was less of a dislocation and more of a relocation, leaving me with a proboscis that could smell around corners.

They also broke my jaw in two places – they always break in two places a bit like a Polo mint apparently. They wanted to wire the jaw and reset my nose under general anaesthetic but as I was getting married 10 days later I talked the specialist back then into resetting my nose in his office (which I thought in today’s claim culture was very sporting of him). He thought I was the bravest chap in the world for sitting there quietly whilst he snapped my nose back to a very approximate vertical. It was actually the most excruciating pain I’d ever felt in my life but what the consultant didn’t know was that his free hand was firmly holding my broken jaw and so any movement was somewhat out of the question. My fault I should have thought to mention the broken jaw.

Anyway enough nostalgia (or is it nostralgia?) – I’ll tell you the full story of that ambush (which I affectionately named ‘The Battle of Chav Creek’), another day.

Back to Snorey Moorey and my ENT consultant decided that the blockage might be causing the snoring and wanted to book me in for some sort of septum re-bore. He explained the main risk was that it’s possible to slip with the pointy sharp thing and bore a hole through the septum wall (a very different kind of septum piercing). This wouldn’t be seriously detrimental to my health but would mean that I would make a whistling sound every time I breathed through my nose. I struggled to contain my excitement at this prospect which threw him a bit. I’m an entertainer I explained that may open doors for me – I don’t think there’s ever been a whistling nose on Britain’s Got Talent. Just think of the tunes you could knock out, ‘Anasing Grace’, ‘It might as well rain until Septumber’.

Anyway the operation was a success – well if you can call walking about with ladies products up your nostrils for a few days a success. After several weeks of things about which we can never speak exiting from my nose I could breathe through both nostrils for the first time in years. Hurrah! ….. but I still snored like an asthmatic wild boar running up a steep gradient whilst gargling.

There are different reasons for people snore – nose, tongue and throat can all be players but the most common cause are wobbly soft tissue bits in the throat that relax during sleep and partially block the airflow. Women naturally have wider windpipes (no I am certainly not going to make a ‘more room for voice box’ gag) and so men are more susceptible but all windpipes get narrower with age and as muscle tone decreases then your glottis gets floppier than Mr Soft at the tai chi class having a spliff.

Cures vary – anything from simple lifestyle changes to invasive surgery attacking the floppy bits with scalpels or even mini blow-torches.

I say simple lifestyle choices – they’re the terrifying ones like don’t drink alcohol at night or lose weight. Lose weight is the obvious one to commit to – except of course, you don’t really mean it and as the years pass slimming into your larynx hangs in the wardrobe next to that shirt that you refuse to throw away because one day…..

And as for not drinking: Listen I’m settled, happily married in my own home that I’ve worked hard for and if you told me that the terrible emotional and financial trauma of a divorce would leave me a sad, broken man, living in the isolated squalor of a one bedroomed, mouldy, council flat in Scunthorpe….but at least I’d be able to sit there in the evening and have a glass of red and a couple of squares of Cadbury Milk then I’d have to give it some serious consideration.

So various throat sprays and herbal cures are on the market which will help you ‘sleep like a baby’ – what wake up every 4 hours crying your arse off?

What about the ‘Stop snore ring’?’ Where do you put it?’ I hear you ask. No not around your neck but on your little finger – it works on the principle of acupressure; the wearing of the ring on the little finger applies a slight pressure to a specific meridian line it’s made of copper and has two magnets. It’s only £6.20 plus £2.99 p+p although heavy snorers may need one for each finger apparently!

Anybody sceptical yet? So was I and that one remains untried. I’m a believer in acupressure principles but a little finger ring tightening up soft tissue in the throat was a stretch too far for me.

I also discarded the ‘anti-snore pillow, nose-clips, and the ‘amazing’ snooze nostril expander.

Surely the simple way to tackle this would be to present my beloved with a pair of good quality earplugs, in a vintage Faberge gift box perhaps, for Christmas and problem solved? Nope I’m afraid not – it’s as much of a vibration thing as a sound thing and can feel as though you’re laying on a mattress that’s perched on a washing machine going through the fast spin cycle.

I did have a little success with the anti-snoring mouthpiece. These are based on the principle that it’s difficult to snore if you have a protruding bottom jaw like an angry piranha fish. No really – try it now. Breathe in through your nose and try and make a piggy snorty sound. Now stick your bottom jaw out and try and do the same thing – much harder isn’t it?

So you soften the soft plastic mouth-piece (resembling a gum shield) in boiling water, then mould it on your bottom set of teeth whilst protruding your bottom jaw out as far as you can. You’ll find this easier if you simultaneously say “Alright my loves?” in a Bruce Forsyth voice. Surely this one’s a winner? Not quite I found I was waking up to discover the mouth-piece spat out onto my cheek like a discarded half-chewed Haribo snake.

Then you up the anti-snore ante with double mouthpiece. Harder to spit out but doable or you will go through the pain barrier to force your lower jaw backwards against the mouthpiece back into snoring position – such is your subconscious determination to annoy your wife. Or at least that’s how she’ll frame it.

After these failed attempts you are now ready to humiliate yourself with the anti-snoring face harness or chin-strap. Yes this is absolutely as bad as it sounds and although a stretchy lycra material it does seem to have been modelled on Hannibal Lecter’s mask. Again not very effective but a really morale booster to cheer the wife up. I’ll never forget my dearly beloved motivating me with the words “I hope you sleep well, oh and don’t forget to put on your face-bra.”

If you put your elasticated face-bra over your double gum shield it does stop you spitting it out but unfortunately also makes breathing at regular intervals quite difficult.

My favourite device of all was the ‘anti-snoring wrist band’. Sounds harmless enough doesn’t it? Ha ha wrong! What this bit of kit does is measure the decibels of your snoring and when it reaches a certain level wakes you up by delivering an electric shock to your wrist! The funny bit was when I first tried it I thought it wasn’t working so I just kept turning it up until it delivered an electric shock which made me laugh out loud ….however on hearing my laughter it gave me a stronger electric shock which made me yell a bit….however on hearing my yell it thought it was dealing with a particularly rebellious snorer and automatically cranked up the voltage and before long I found myself trapped in this perpetual torturous cycle of punishment which only stopped when I was able to develop a silent scream.

The device was made in China – further evidence of their culture of cruelty and blatant disregard for human rights.

Electronic collars were deemed too cruel as a training device for police dogs but fine for unconscious people with a medical condition it seems.

Anyway I was a police officer if I wanted to be punished with an electric shock I would have brought the taser gun home with me for my wife to dry-stun me on the arse when I my snoring got too loud.

I remember that harrowing scene in The Green Mile where the prisoner in the electric chair didn’t die quickly. From now on I’ll always be wondering if he was just a really bad snorer.

Besides this device won’t stop you snoring – it’ll just stop you sleeping. The principle that your body will learn to adapt is flawed. That’s like saying if every time you closed your eyes someone sticks a pin in your foot then you’ll eventually learn to sleep with your eyes open. No you won’t you’ll just stay awake until you go insane! It’s like saying if someone keeps holding your head under water eventually you’ll learn to breathe like a fish….no you won’t you’ll just die!

So that’s it for 2015. Have a peaceful and happy festive period and see you again in 2016.

Who ate all the pies?!

Fat man holding a measurement tapeThe Sunday People were proud to announce that their intrepid reporters have made full use of the Freedom of Information Act to finally solve the mystery of overweight cops – they’re eating too many pies.

There have been concerns raised, by some, that the Freedom of Information Act can run the risk of jeopardising national security but on this occasion I think that its use is entirely justified.

The headline read ‘Police canteens fuelling blobby bobby crisis’. To be fair I think they were pretty restrained, I’d have run with ‘Blimey Barmy Blobby Bobby Bonkers Mrs’.

‘Revelations’ unearthed by the Sunday People team included the fact that one police canteen offered ‘5 different types of pies!’ I’ll repeat that -‘5 different types of pies’! (This is way above the national average of pie options which is 3.142)

Whistle blowers

At the moment there are no calls for a full public enquiry but as the 5 pie offending force is my own, Humberside, and pies are a subject very close to my heart (literally) I feel I ought to respond. I can only hope that I’m offered more protection than other police whistle-blowers who have chosen to speak out.

I am…a cuddly copper, big-boned, a chubster – whatever you want to call me, and I hold the Humberside Police completely responsible. With their multiple pie and potato options (including ‘two types of fries’).

I first realised that I’d got a problem when my stab vest started to ride-up and look a bit like a crop-top, and then I knew that I’d hit rock bottom when I chased an elderly shoplifter around Tesco…and she lapped me!

Humberside Police have already tried to defend their position by saying that their pies are made from ‘low-fat ingredients’. Yeah right! I’m surprised that they didn’t suggest that as the chicken pie had mushroom in it that it qualified as one of the recommended ‘5 a day’.

Outraged

Typical of our organisation not to accept responsibility for their shameful actions. It reminded me of atom bomb radiation tests being carried out on unwitting soldiers in the 1950’s. I’m outraged. Sometimes I look at my naked reflection in a full length mirror and have to squint to try and make myself look slimmer. When this story broke I was tempted to go straight to the Chief and complain direct, but her office is on the second floor…and the stairs are really steep.

My claims are being backed by the experts, Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “As far as I am concerned, one type of pie is too many, let alone five. Pies are loaded with salt and fat.” I’m just concerned that his scientific evidence might lose a bit of weight as looking at the Sunday People photograph he doesn’t look like the healthiest individual.

He’s backing Sir Bernhard Hogan Howe, who recently raised concerns about “overweight policemen” (although I think he meant police officers). Unfortunately looking at the People’s photograph of Sir Bernard, he looked even less healthy than Mr Fry.

Compensation

Earlier this month Police Oracle reported that an officer collapsed during a fitness bleep test. I’ve had a similar experience, only in my case it’s because I speeded up excessively when I thought the bleep was the microwave going off.

In respect of my formal compensation claim against Humberside Police, I’ve already refused their first offer of a free meal token. Huh, eat another one of their pies? I’d rather support a job application by Nigel Farage as a Diversity Officer.

Sadly I don’t expect much support from the Theresa May or any of the Government. Indeed, even the Prime Minister has turned on us with his threats to take state benefits away from obese people, knowing full well that they won’t have a protest march!

In the meantime I’ve decided to start a campaign to get public support called ‘Public Love Expanding Bobbies’ or PLEB for short.

The (not so) Magnificent Seven – People Who Peeve the Police

Originally written for the BBC website…..

AlfieMoore_NakedStun_photoby_IdilSukan_DrawHQ_031. Handcuff Heroes

Encountered every Friday night (aka ‘fight night’) in our towns and city centres. Usually drunk and always annoying, when informed that they are under arrest they quietly comply until the handcuffs are placed on them at which point they will repeatedly say to any police officers present, in a very loud voice, “take these handcuffs off and I’ll knock you all out.” Handcuff heroes will keep repeating this claim all the way until you reach the backyard of the police station, at which time an officer will remove the handcuffs and they will instantly become compliant and non-threatening again.

2. Mollycoddling Mums

Have an unbearable teenage boy, often called Kyle. If they open the door to young Kyle standing with a police officer, their first line is either, “It wasn’t my Kyle, the others are all liars!” or, “He’s been home all night with me, officer.”

3. Persistent Complainers

They ring in at least twice weekly (three times if they can’t get through to the council to complain about the bins). They will tend to report low level harassment which will either involve an ex bezzie friend called Tracey who’s been calling them names on social media, youths causing annoyance (“two teenagers have just walked past my house and one is wearing a hoodie”), or neighbour problems (“my next door neighbour keeps deliberately making my dog bark… by staring at it”).

4. Megalomaniac Motorists

These like to drive very badly, very quickly. They think that they’re excellent drivers and believe themselves to be genuine victims. They will always tell you that they themselves were overtaken several times and also ask, “Why aren’t you catching real criminals?” If they are politicians or professional footballers they will often enquire, “Do you know who I am?” The correct response is always “no”, although I have sometimes responded, “Are you the mysterious Stig from Top Gear, out test driving the reasonably priced car?”

5. Embarrassing Bobbies

Just like the similarly named TV show these unbearably cringey creatures are colleagues who can invariably be found talking down to innocent members of the public in a condescending manner, or telling fellow cops how good the job used to be in the old days. Embarrassing bobbies tend to have a black eye about 50% of the time due to their poor communication skills. This makes them dangerous to work with as well as boring. If you’re told that you’re ‘double-crewed’ with an embarrassing bobby for a full night week this is devastating news – you may even consider tasering yourself to take the easy way out!

6. Retail Rambos

Easy to spot security guards working at a supermarket near you. They will have big black boots, a blazer that’s slightly too big for them and a non-issue utility belt containing a Swiss army knife with 146 functions. They specialise in following the young and the elderly around shops whilst pretending to be talking into a walkie-talkie. Retail Rambo’s are frustrated souls because they really wanted to be cops but failed the selection process – they say, because they’re colour-blind, in reality they turned up for the interview wearing a camouflage headband and were unable to correctly name the capital of France.

7. It Wasn’t Me!

These are regular low-level criminal ‘customers’ who are genetically predisposed to deny everything, regardless of the strength of the evidence against them. If you find their blood sample on broken glass at the scene of a crime they will say they saw the broken window and cut themselves leaning in to see if everyone was alright. They come in all shapes and sizes which can make for even more entertainment – when you show them CCTV of a shoplifting incident and ask, “Can you confirm that 4’10”, purple-haired, one-legged shoplifter is you?” and they reply, “It looks a bit like me, but it’s not me.”

 

 

 

Cops ‘crying wolf’?

Article originally written for the Police Oracle and re-published here for wider enjoyment.

AlfieMoore_NakedStun_photoby_IdilSukan_DrawHQ_03I’ve been asked to recommend a good motivational workplace speaker. Does anyone know how much Theresa May charges?

Any former tutors or supervisors will recognise the format of Theresa May’s Federation Conference speech as the good old fashioned sh*t sandwich. Starting with how brave and hardworking those wonderful cops are and ending with a bit of ‘let’s work together’ to make the world a better place. Lovely stuff.

Okay the sh*tty bit of the sandwich contained some outrageously intelligence insulting statements, each one a little bit less believable than the last:

 

 

 

“The Home Office no longer believes it runs policing”

Saying neighbourhood police officers are an “endangered species” is “scaremongering”

“Our country has never been safer”

“Earnings are up”

“An HMIC that is truly independent..”

“The frontline service has been maintained…” (There was something else about 91% on the frontline but I was laughing so hard by then that I couldn’t focus)

Scary hair

Humility was in very short supply – gloating and smugness was the order of the day. I’ve not seen arrogance on that scale since the lady with the scary hair was in her prime.

I mean you can’t blame her for being confident. Let’s be honest watching the Police Federation take her on for the past five years has been a bit like watching a National Health bespectacled 7 year old kid from the remedial class challenging Garry Kasparof to a game of chess.

I’m not blaming the Federation she is a formidable adversary – smart, driven and ruthless. She’s systematically weakened, discredited and divided her opponent before moving in for the kill. She’s also had solid support behind her. Have the Fed had the same? Nope – we’ve been pretty quick to turn on you and stick the boot in when the going got tough.

Drama queens

One thing that surprised me was her ‘crying wolf’ line. It comes from one of the more renowned of Aesop’s Fables. ‘The boy who cried wolf’ was a shepherd boy who liked to exaggerate. Mrs May decided previous ‘wolf cries’ from drama queen Fed reps was a bit of irresistible ‘spin’ offering her the opportunity to be less than courteous to her hosts by giving them a couple more slaps for good luck. To be fair it was true though wasn’t it?

Personally I think she got a bit carried away there. To me it smacks of one of those lines that come back to bite over-cocky people in the bum. As we’ve constantly been reminded in the last few week’s politics is a very fickle business. I think the ‘cry wolf’ line might one day be up there with Gerald Ratner’s ‘total crap’.

The thing is it’s good to be grateful isn’t it? Like in Aesop’s fable: ‘The travellers and the plane tree’. In this story travellers rest under a plane tree that sheltered them from bad weather but as soon as it was fine they plucked the leaves and cut its branches. Bit short-sighted that, the weather can fluctuate just like crime rates and public disorder.

Here Goosey Goosey

And I know money’s tight but some things are false economy like in Aesop’s fable: ‘The goose that lays golden eggs’. In this story a cottager and his wife had a goose that gave them a golden egg every day. They supposed that the goose must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed it. Inside they found the goose was no different to other geese. The moral of the story being that they didn’t realise what they had. I wonder if our Home Secretary does?

And let’s face it, maybe we the police could have displayed a bit more humility ourselves? We’ve been a bit greedy too in the past and took the money and done the Government’s dirty work without asking too many questions. Maybe we should have taken the learning from Aesop’s fable: ‘The ass and the pig’. This is a very sad story about a pig that was fattened on barley and then sacrificed. The left-over grain was given to the ass, who refused it because of the fate that had overtaken the one it had previously fed. I mean on the surface it looks like a totally illogical thought process on the part of the ass but if you replace the word ‘pig’ with ‘National Union of Mineworkers’ and you replace ‘ass’ with ‘Police’ then perhaps we’d have been smarter turning down the barley instead of buying all those extensions and new cars. (I guess the cops back then didn’t suss that they were next)

Come on Rocky

The British Police are debilitated, demotivated and divided. So what’s next – is that it, game over? The way I see it there are three options:-

  • Give in
  • Work with Mrs May
  • Fight back

None look very inviting do they? Let’s have a closer look:-

Give in? Carry on “shouting from the sidelines” while you wait for it to fail. Well at least you can have the somber satisfaction of saying ‘told you so’? But you do know what happened to the little boy who cried wolf in the end? The wolf ate him.

Work with? Jump into bed with Theresa (metaphorically speaking of course). Poor old Fed – wouldn’t that put you between a rock and a hard place? If you do go for this option please remember Aesop’s fable: ‘The mouse and the oyster’. That’s the story of the mouse who comes across an oyster and tries eating it, only for the shell to snap shut, bringing him instantly both death and a tomb. Oops!

Fight back? Back your Federation. Take the learning from the last five years and formulate a plan of attack. You’re weak and wounded but are you beaten? Time for a big finish. Time for me to energise and galvanise the underdog in the face of adversity. Sadly ‘David and Goliath’ wasn’t one of Aesop’s fables, neither did he write any of the Rocky films and I couldn’t find that motivational speaker so looks like it’s over to you Police Federation – what have you got left?

If you want to know what I’d do to resuscitate the ‘thinner than ever’ blue line then come and see my Edinburgh show this August A FAIR COP STANDS UP.