Getting it out of your system

I could not get the old lady victim of the other day out of my system. Sometimes it’s like that, things go round and round your head: what difference will it make to her if I catch the bastards who attacked her? How many other lives did they walk all over the same day? My dad says you just have to put things to the back of your mind; in the old days drink was the answer (even for my dad) – now we are a little more enlightened, at least some of us are. I went for a long run, then a sauna and then treated myself to a facial at the gym: my skin had gone blotchy, probably with stress so the lovely Babor face stuff they have there was more than justified in my view.

This question of incidents sticking with you is interesting; I had a conversation with my dad not so long ago: he claimed not to be troubled by some of the things he’d seen; but when I pushed him he could dredge up, in great detail, memories of suicides, murders and fatal road traffic accidents – I think he was a bit surprised by the way some of that detail had stuck. It makes you wonder about the ‘hard-man’ attitude of some of the lads when it comes to things like post-traumatic counselling after serious incidents like child death.

I’m on nights this weekend, should be action packed and full of things to tell you. I already have a little snippet of news from the nick, but will try and do that one afternoon after I get up.

March 30, 2007. Babor, girl-stuff, life, make-up, night duty, vulnerable people, working women. Leave a comment.

Strange people in strange places

One of the things I love about my job – apart from the uniform, and the chance to carry weapons around, obviously – is the fact that I meet lots of really interesting people and get the chance to go into places that people don’t normally. On my patrol area is a crematorium; early in my career I had to take a report of criminal damage there when some of the leaded windows were smashed by, presumably, rock chucking youths. After taking the details in the office I went around the back to speak to the ‘technician’ to see if he had had any particular problems with youths. There started a strange acquaintance – I step back from saying relationship; and no I’m not going to tell you I fell in love with the guy (please!) – the place is warm, has a kettle and there is someone to chat to, who is always glad of a bit of company, on quiet cold days. But, it is the weirdest thing to sit next to a stack of coffins waiting their turn to go into the fiery furnace, drinking tea with a backdrop muffled funeral sounds coming from beyond the curtain.

John the guy in charge of the furnace takes great pride in his work – which is quite technical, there is more to the process than simply sticking the box in the fire – he has dignity and respect for the dead people he incinerates. I do have to say though, that he is almost a caricature of himself, over six feet tall, skinny, with big hands, his lank hair is thinning and always looks like it could do with a cut; and guess what, he lives at home with his mum. I think he spends too much time on his own but I’m not about to do a Cold Comfort Farm job on him; and I know he passes an appraising eye over me – but why wouldn’t he god dammit? I might be doing him a disservice because he is really interesting to talk to, all that time on his own makes him quite well read, he doesn’t seem to spend (all) his time poring over porn books but reads a wide range of novels and historical books.

In the UK we have a very hands-off approach to death, disposal of its products is all very clean and is done for us. This isn’t the case all over the world. A girlfriend of mine went to India in her gap year; where it wasn’t unusual to witness bodies burning on rafts of wood on the river Ganges, the bodies being subsequently left to decompose in the river. Incidentally, the quality of that burning depends on the amount of wood a family can afford for the fire, this isn’t always enough and partly burnt bodies are often to be seen in the water. Anyway, the point of mentioning all that is to say that I dared myself to watch one of the bodies being burnt; looking through the little glass window in the furnace door I was surprised how unsurprising it was; it burnt like you would expect it to, fat sizzled, skin blistered, hair singed. Sounds grotesque but it made me think about spirituality and reinforced the fact that all we dispose of in the flames is the container, whatever the element of life is is long gone by that stage.

Anyway, enough of all that philosophising, I only mentioned it because I popped in there for a cup of tea today. Tonight is Friday night, a night very much for the living. I am on night duty next week so intend to feel good this weekend because I know I’ll feel shit by next Friday morning. Me and my good mates Jacqui and Tracy are going in to town tonight for a dance and a drink (or two) and an expensive taxi back to Jacqui’s flat.

Look out guys we’re gonna be gorgeous!A good night out

March 9, 2007. alcohol, dares, death, gore, life, philosophy, working women. 2 comments.

I’ve just got to tell you this…

I started duty earlier than usual this morning; our pro-active policing team asked me to go with them to execute a drugs warrant. It is quite common to ask female officers to go along, in the event that there are female suspects to be searched – this team of five officers were all male. The target house was a typical local authority town house, flanked on either side by, what looked like, decent people’s houses. This one had sheets at the windows instead of curtains and the small front garden had no gate and was overgrown with long grass that, so it transpired, was full of dog shit. Some of the intelligence that led to the raid had come from neighbours who were sick of the disturbance caused by the activities of the couple living in the house – proof that tenants of a house are involved in drug dealing strengthens the case for the local authority to evict them; though this helps the neighbours it simply moves the problem somewhere else. Anyway that’s by the way.

We parked the cars around the corner so as to approach quietly on foot, which was just as well, because the front bedroom window was ajar. We assembled at the front door, with the lead officer wielding the Wham Ram – or universal key as it’s fondly known – ready to smash the door in. As we waited in the quiet, we heard unmistakable moans coming from the upstairs window – whoever was in the front bedroom were obviously ‘at it’.

We stood struggling to stifle our giggles for a moment as the moans became shouts:

“Not yet, not yet, not yet” shouted the female voice,

“I’ve got to, I’ve got to” replied the male.

The lead officer stood with the Wham Ram ready.

“Yes, yes yes” shouted the female voice,

“Ohhhhhhhh” shouted the male

Smash! went the perfectly timed Wham Ram, “Police” shouted the pro-active team.

We didn’t find much, a bit of cannabis and a few Es’ but there were scales and notebooks that the team took away; it looks like there had been dealing going on there. At least the neighbours might get a bit of peace for a while now that the dealers know we are on to them; and in any case we found that the electricity meter had been tampered with so they got charged with abstracting electricity too – an interesting fact that: you can steal gas but not electricity; gas is tangible property, electricity isn’t.

The female prisoner was quite easy to search in the event, her being (horribly) naked and all.

March 7, 2007. drugs, police, sex, working women. Leave a comment.

Evil Drink

It’s not often that you get to see life as an objective outsider but that is what city centre patrol at weekend is like. We all get drunk sometimes; it’s not often though that you see what a prat you look when you do!

Every other cycle of shifts we do a weekend of late shifts that start at 5pm and end at 3am (in theory); we are bussed into the city centre to carry out foot patrol in support of our city centre colleagues. The lads love it, the seem to welcome the attention of pissed girls wearing next to no clothes; I, on the other hand, find theĀ  lurid suggestions of pissed men faced with a woman in uniform irritating, I don’t have much patience for them and my threshold for anti-social behaviour seems, sometimes, lower than the boys on the shift who think it’s a bit of a laugh – come to think of it, if you’d seen some of them on a night out..!

My ideal patrolling night, on this shift, is to be teamed up with one of the older, more mature members of my team; preferably one of the ones who have young children and simply want to get through the night and get some sleep before doing family stuff the following day; and on Saturday night I did: working with John who has two small girls (3yrs and 5yrs) and who he adores. You can almost see him cringing at some of the alcohol soaked wrecks we see, inwardly hoping that his own daughters don’t turn out like them (I hope he hopes they turn out like me!).

The night passed reasonably well, John and I had a fairly companionable time taking the mickey out of some of the more lurid sights. We only had one serious job to attend, where a lad had been glassed in the face – he was a bit of a mess. The city centre lads dealt with the crime report, so no work there for us, we just helped to calm down the drunken crowd and get details of witnesses.

I’m on early shifts the next few days starting tomorrow; these are the most tiring for me; at least on lates and nights I can stay in bed for ever, on earlies I’m up at 5.30am but still want to stay up and watch TV in the evening.

March 6, 2007. alcohol, anti-social behaviour, police, working women. Leave a comment.

It’s good to be a woman in the Police

No matter what people tell you, being a Police Officer is not feminine. When I look at some of my female colleagues who have lasted the distance in the Police, some of them, I’m afraid to say, have let slip their femininity in favour of a sort of practical utilitarian approach to dress and appearance, you know the sort of thing: really short hair, no make-up to save the bother of reapplying in an emergency. It makes sense; much of police work means getting sweaty and dirty; being on patrol means that the amount of girl-stuff you can take with you is limited. I have always been quite practical – so you might not look your best after a week of night shifts with disturbed sleep, and your male colleagues might mock attempts to retain girliness, but that is no reason to let standards slip, it just takes a little more effort. Besides, being in the police has given me a head and shoulders advantage of some of my girlfriends, my body for example : I keep fit – very fit; I have never had a body like I have now and I’m determined to keep it that way. And if being a testosterone charged brute has its advantages at times in the cops, so does being a well turned out woman. The others on our team still laugh at me, after all I only have two years in the job; they say that in another two years I’ll be smoking, drinking and cussing like the rest of them. I am a cop – a good one I hope – but I’m a girl too, and proud of it.

So, in addition to the Asp on my belt, my torch, notebook, HORT1 pad (I’ll explain another time), Stop and Search/Account forms, Swiss Army knife, CS canister, hand held radio, pocket notebook, pen, piece of string (again I’ll explain another time) and mini A-Z, I also have with me at all times an emergency mirror, hairbrush and lip gloss. Plus in my locker back at the nick I have make-up touch up kit, body spray, perfume, a nail file (I would prefer to have this with me but it’s too easily used as a weapon by someone else)

I’m on late shifts this weekend, that will mean the start of my shift on my regular beat, probably a shoplifter at some stage. Then later in the evening into the city centre to back-up the regular city patrols for the weekend’s madness.

Bye for now I’ll write some more soon.

March 2, 2007. girl-stuff, make-up, police, working women. Leave a comment.