Friday, 27 April 2012


It's 03:23am and my eyeballs feel like there's a cheese and onion crisp behind each eyelid.  My legs are aching and fidgety and are trying to tell me they should be horizontal at this ungodly hour, not dangling off the edge of a swivel chair.  I've got that weird feeling that I always get around this time when I'm working a night shift, it's as though I'm no longer real but a pale, insubstantial phantom with fuzzy thought processes.
This is the fourth night shift in a row and I'm feeling the pain.

Everybody is out on jobs so I'm alone in the police station, sitting in the back office behind the front desk.  Their is a CCTV monitor screen on the wall above me showing a downward angle view of the front counter so I can see if anyone comes in and go to see what they want.  The image on the screen may as well be a photograph as nothing has moved on the picture for the last two hours.

The last person to disturb the screens image was a small young woman with messy hair who came in looking frantic and clutching an audio tape.
Who the hell listens to audio tapes these days?
She told me she had been listening to a talk show on a local radio station when the DJ had addressed her directly and told her that he was going to open up her head and get inside. She had taped the last 30 minutes of the show and begged me to listen to it and prove that she was not mad.

I listened to the tape while sending an email to Social Services giving her details and obviously fragile state of mind although I'm fairly sure they would know about this lost soul already.  Then I went back out to the desk where she sat waiting on the uncomfortable metal bench that is bolted to the floor.  I tell her that there has been no mention of her name n the tape and ask her if she is on medication and if so has she been taking the prescribed doses. She starts to cry and accuses me of being part of the conspiracy that she imagines is surrounding her and leaves the station.
I have notified the relevant people regarding her welfare and they will check on her but I still feel impotent, as though I could have done more but she is just one of the many people like this that I have encountered in this job.

Later on a couple of officers hand over several brown paper evidence bags containing clothes taken from the body of a dead man.  His neighbour had rung complaining about a smell coming from his flat and the officers found him dead on his kitchen floor. The attending doctor was happy that it was natural causes, nothing suspicious so the system took over and everything was bagged and tagged.
The poor old lad probably had no idea that he would wind up in the mortuary tonight and the clothes on his back would end up on the floor next to me as I reduce the drama of his death to a few keystrokes while drinking black coffee out of a Judge Dredd mug.
Then his clothes would end up amongst the piles of property in the stores, placed between several seized cannabis bushes and a confiscated crossbow.

I've heard that working night shifts is bad for the heart and a lot of shift workers die before their time, their bodies pushed too far by being forced to function all night fuelled by junk food.
Never mind, my relief comes on duty at 07:00, maybe I'll eat a Snickers to keep me going.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Man who Should be King.

If Sir David Attenborough was to call me a loathsome shitehawk with less common sense than a mollusc I would have to agree with him.  Not only because it was true but because his voice is so authoritative that it would be impossible to argue with him.

Everyone alive at this moment in the UK who has functioning hearing will have heard his voice at some point in their lives. He has narrated wildlife documentaries on the BBC since 1952 and his calm and soothing delivery is one of the most recognised sounds on British TV.

But he isn't only the world's top wildlife documentary narrator, he was also controller of BBC2 from 1965 to 1969.  During this four year period he oversaw the replacement of colour television form black and white and thanks to him classic shows such as Mastermind, Match of the Day and televised snooker were introduced to our screens. These shows are all still running on the BBC, such is their popularity.  The bloke's a genius.

My favourite Attenborough moment is from a really old black and white programme from the 1950's where he is looking for an isolated tribe in New Guinea that have never seen a white man before. He is standing on a dirt track in the middle of the jungle talking to camera when in the distance behind him a number of the tribe appear over the brow of a hill and come marching towards him, shouting and waving spears.

Attenborough turns around and calmly walks towards them, sticks his hand out and says 'How do you do'?
The tribe all stop dead apart from one guy at the front who walks up to Attenborough with a big grin and shakes his hand.
No doubt Attenborough would have done his research beforehand and probably knew that they would not be hostile but nevertheless he looked effortlessly cool.

His brother Richard is a successful actor and director but comes across as a luvvie darling type whereas David seems to be a top bloke who could tell some great tales down the pub.

I didn't join the crowds lining the streets when Princess Diana died but when David Attenborough eventually passes on I would probably want to pay my respects.  The man is a national treasure and when he is gone we will realise that we really miss the sound of his voice.

Friday, 13 April 2012


It feels as though somebody has scooped my brain out of my head with a rusty spoon, replaced it with a big iron bell then then started hammering on it while dressed in a suit of armour and bouncing around inside my skull.  Yes, I have a hangover.
The reason for this delicate condition is that I went to Sheffield yesterday with a bunch of lads from work to watch Premier League Darts at the Motorpoint Arena.

I've always had a soft spot for darts, a sport which involves overweight men standing still and used to involve a lot of drinking and smoking while they were playing.  It's cleaned its image up a bit since the old days and there is a lot more money involved however it is still struggling to be recognised as a genuine sport rather than just a pub game.
If archery and target shooting can be Olympic sports then there is no reason darts can't be recognised as one as well other than it's disreputable, working class image.

Anyway enough class warfare, we had a brilliant day.  We went around a few bars in Sheffield city centre during the afternoon then caught a tram to the arena. The matches were being televised live on Sky Sports and I'd never been to one of their events before and I have to say it was noisy and over the top with booming music and lasers everywhere.

The crowd were in good form, singing, shouting and wearing daft costumes.  We were wearing the loudest shirts we could get our hands on and were sitting near Spiderman, The Mask and a group of lads dressed as U.S sailors.. Every time an ad break came on everybody jumped up and pumped their arms in the air and sang along with the theme music until our throats were hoarse.

The biggest game of the night was Phil 'The Power' Taylor vs Raymond Van Barneveld, both darting giants. The huge screens showed the intro for Taylor with dazzling fast cuts and close ups of his eyes and booming music, it was like a trailer for a big budget action movie. Then a stunning blonde model with more leg length than was feasible led him onto the stage.

Now Taylor is a dumpy little middle-aged bloke who looks as though he has just come to read the gas meter but his formidable reputation and the big build up had the crowd jumping.
And he didn't disappoint. Van Barneveld is the second best darts player in the world but was bulldozed by Taylor, eventually losing eight legs to three.

He is awesome to watch, there is no doubt in his eyes when he stands at the oche and he has remained consistently brilliant for years, winning the world Championship fourteen times. Achievement on this scale should be recognised more in the sporting world but never mind, we loved it.

Afterwards we met up with a few other people from work that had come down for the event and went back into Sheffield city centre for more drinking and dancing before ending up in a fast food shop on West Street at 01:30 am eating greasy pizza then crashing out at the hotel.

Great night but I'm paying for it now.  My eyeballs are throbbing and even my hair hurts.