It takes its toll being in a very specific employment that requires an impossible amount of professionalism, unobtainable levels of commitment, and inexplicable levels of expectation. In the eyes of the public, the Police are, or at least should be, infallible superhumans. Our sole purpose being to catch bad guys and keep you safe. As soon as we deviate, make an error in judgement, have a bad day, make a genuine mistake, have our buttons pushed, or dare to stop for ten minutes to have a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, we are put up there with the big three; Hitler, Hussain and Harris.
You have to be whiter than white. So much so, that I genuinely hesitated when writing the phrase “whiter than white” in case this idiom’s origin’s traced back to Rosa Parks or Slavery or the KKC (I refuse to spell ‘clan’ wrong). I could be immediately labelled as some intolerant hate junkie, and suspended. That’s not even a joke.
The slightest sniff of a Police Officer having a sense of humour, or their own opinions, or personal thoughts, or anything ‘taboo’ spoken about or text to friends, or any views that don’t reflect their employers, then they will likely be scrutinised to some degree. To qualify as a modern police officer, human characteristics are no longer required. Especially not a sense of humour. Too many variables. Modern Fuzz need only be heartless emotionless droids, programmed to enforce and obey. It’s early days in what is in effect, a really low budget totalitarian dictatorship. It’s North Korea, sponsored by Lidl.
Scapegoats are needed and fingers must be pointed. People need to be held to account. And yes I am talking from a very real personal experience. But they’re not just aiming at the handful of blatant and complete bell-ends that somehow get through training school. It’s everyone. Decent officers. The aforementioned supercops. We’re all just a number on a shoulder now, waiting to fall upon the swords that align our very crest. And every one is out to get us! The media hate us, the public hate us, the government hate us, anyone above the rank of inspector hates us. Somehow we’re the epitome of evil. It’s like being Harold Shipman cast as the leading male in Cocoon 3. Nobody seems to trusts us our appreciate what the police are (trying) to stand for. And of course, it has a knock on effect to those trying to do it.
Currently, the sole day to day objective every single police constable has, is not to get baddies and bring justice. It’s just try not to get in the shit. Do the bare minimum you can, because the more you do, the greater the chance you’ll get the blame and get a badly polished boot up the arse. Don’t use discretion, that’s a skill from a bygone era. Follow this flow chart, no matter how blatant it’s ineffectiveness. Don’t agree with this process? Don’t worry, it changes every six months. Victim doesn’t want this course of action? Sorry pal, you no longer have a say any more than I do. The only thinking on your feet done these days, is about which foot your going to put wrong. If there’s an extra “cock-up” than usual at a rape scene, then prepare to become more of a target than the actual rapist. Everyone forgets it was the rapist who did bad here, not the unfortunate untrained inexperienced unsupported PC. You may as well take the blame for the rape too. And get raped. By kids, you fucking paedo. This is now all your fault, and you’re going down for it. The actual rapist? That case got dropped ages ago, you’re the bad guy remember. Why didn’t you just follow this months version of the fucking flow chart?
Surely everyone gets those celebrity death jokes text to them? Within an hour of Michael Jackson dying I had eight! I have to immediately delete them, as I would be sacked for having them and/or not challenging the sender. The other day I had to stop myself from using my ‘Zombify’ app to make a zombie version of the late, and delightful Sir Terry Wogan. It shouldn’t need stating that I wasn’t going to send it to his widow. It was for the eyes of like minded pals only, who know its a joke and who know I mean no harm whatsoever, and who know I adore the late Tel. It was just a cheap shot at making someone laugh. I wasn’t asking for it to be shown on Points Of View. Its an insta-sack so I didn’t bother. In the end I settled with a zombie Cilla Black which didn’t even make sense.
It’s a really miserable ethos. And also just a precursor to my actual point here…. Humans NEED to fuck about. Police officers are no different, even if we are treated as such. It is human nature. There’s that phrase that’s knocked about, that the emergency services have a “famous dark sense of humour”. Not really. It’s the same sense of humour as you. Humour is subjective. And very often contextual based on who you’re with, where you are and shared experience. It’s an attitude you choose to adopt. Each persons ‘sense’ of humour is unique, organic and completely adaptable. If you don’t find something funny, that doesn’t mean that people that do find said thing funny are wrong. (Unless said thing is BBC’s Mrs Browns Boys) The ‘dark’ bit of the sense of humour is solely born out of the context. We deal with all the fucked up stuff. Dead bodies, rapes, abused kids and abhorrent human beings. Beryl at the post office deals with stamps so will not relate or understand how we can dick about whilst sat with a decomposed human to get us through said horrific situation, in the same way we will not fully appreciate the hilarity of her paper cut anecdote.
These days being in the Police Force is about as much fun as being in Auschwitz, only with no food provided and less shower facilities. Another joke I’m definitely not allowed to make. I talk like I’m some old fart here approaching retirement, but it wasn’t so long ago that PCs actually had some down time. A chance to mess about. To release all the stress and shake off the smell of that tramp you just had to strip search. Have a laugh, clear all that build up of anxiety, remind yourself why you do it and get on with it. People were of course happier and subsequently worked a great deal harder and more effectively. Unlike todays resent fueled loathing belligerent broken human caskets that drag their demoralised souls towards the derailed infinite freight train packed full of societies never-ending human bacteria.
Anyway, here’s a non-exhaustive list of the sort of ‘fun’ we used to get upto, but cannot any more. None of these hijinks by the way are mental, over the top sitcom levels of japery, they are just examples of your average day to day low level tomfoolery….
Hide and Seek: In the days when maps were books you bought in petrol stations, someone would pick a grid reference and hide. Everyone else hunts. We were all in marked cars, so this was just high visibility patrolling mixed with a bit of fun!
Corridor cricket/bowling: A game of cricket or bowling in the nick, usually bottles of water for stumps, batons for bats etc.
Band-o-Pong: A creation of my own which was basically ping pong across the office desks using your hands as bats to twat a massive ball of elastic bands at one another. This somehow evolved into…
Face-o-splat: A number of items of increasing size weight and danger, are thrown at peoples faces. Take the hit to proceed, dodge or block and you’re out! Bonus points for not even flinching.
Endurance challenges: Using police asps or batons, start with a rhythmic tap on a colleagues body part, building up to rather brutal poundings! See who could withstand it the longest, and who had the best bruises the next day!
Radio hijinks: tricking people into saying or doing stupid things /swearing over the radios. (I once managed to cut someone off just as they sang the theme tune to the Muppets to the entire county). Replacing the phonetic alphabet with stupid words was also a giggle.
Cocking: Surely every employment has this? Doodle a penis over a document such as a statement or, more commonly a pocket notebook and inside of police hats. If you know a copper, check his hat. I bet you what’s left of my pension there’s a cock doodled in there somewhere.
Stealth Cock: As above but the idea is they don’t see these ones, they’re less obvious, hidden among letters or miniscule enough to sneak their way to a court trial.
Speed cock: As above, but in full view of the recipient and to be drawn before the recipient can react in time to stop it.
(My personal favourite sabotage of someone’s PNB however was the little gem at the top of this blog which I christened ‘wanksy’)
Sleeper gags: A joke that could be found days/months/years after it was set. Could be a stealth Cock hidden on the last sheet of paper in the printer, several thousands hole punch chads hidden in the ceiling tiles, or a huge phallus drawn in yellow chalk under the admin carpet. There’s still an image of ‘keyboard cat’ hidden behind every radiator on the first floor.
Naked Gun Parking: Me and a mate would regularly intentionally park marked vehicles like Leslie Nielson in said film, crashing into bins or just being all haphazard, mounting the kerb etc. You have to hum the theme tune as you park. Double kudos when there are onlookers.
Lock-ins: When out in groups of four in a single car, there was a ban on opening windows whenever anyone dropped their guts. All must suffer!
Secret word: Whilst dealing with an incident, each of you would give each other a secret word that you have to fit into normal conversation without anyone realising. Like, aubergine or chumbawumba or whatever. Also works with themes / film titles etc.
Accents: A risky game, where at an incident, one of you would be nominated an accent you had to try and keep up, no matter how poor it was. The bemusement it caused was priceless.
Newspaper doodles: When on a constant supervision and there’s nothing to do, after you’ve read a paper eight times, it’s inevitable that you are going to start doodling over it. And inevitable that said doodles will be cocks, balls, tits and filth! We’ll some genius had the idea of collecting each image over a number of years all into a glorious scrap book. The resulting 20 page spread of doodles debauchery was the single most impressive community project I have ever seen in my life.
Forfeits: This was a specific era in my career, when we had a great shift. If anyone wanted to go home early, and there was nothing going on and enough of us in, then to earn the privilege they would have to do a forfeit first for everyone else’s amusement. One involved letting everyone doodle on my arms and face with black permanent marker. Quite tricky walking home having a Hitler ‘tache, cocks covering my arms and ‘rapist’ written on my forehead. Another favourite, involved me having to stand beside a vast puddle as a colleague floored the marked car past me, showering me with said puddle as the others filmed it. Then walking home, soaked, cold, a bit humiliated, but looking forward to being in bed an hour before everyone else.
Utterly juvenile, all of it, but it kept spirits up, and kept us working. It was like, we got away with that, so we’ll work or balls off now. “You scratch our backs” sort of mentality. Like we owed the job after a brief respite from it all. No one knew, no one got hurt. Good times, and kept us enthusiastic and charged for the grueling night shifts. I get that you don’t go to work to have fun, but having fun at work, keeps you coming to work. And not having a mental breakdown and going off with stress for six months, something frighteningly commonplace these days.
There’s zero chance for the majority of this now. Primarily as there is no downtime to do it anymore. GPS constantly tracks you, body worn video constantly films you. As do the criminals, goading you to react as they shove the iphones they can somehow afford on benefits in your face. You still get the odd giggle, but it has to be in secret. you can’t trust anyone anymore as so called colleagues actually get praised and promoted for dobbing in people that let their hair down for two minutes. But it still goes on. There’s an elite generation of cops still hanging in there, dossing about whenever they can. Not to be unprofessional. Not to bring shame on the police or upset anyone. We do it because we are human beings, and fucking about is natures anti-depressant.