Monday, September 10, 2007

The next stop is Poltroon Parkway

NOW THAT the nation’s youth is back at school it’s once again safe to go out on the streets during daylight hours without worrying about getting hit by a stray bullet.

This has obviously occurred to the cops in Bolton, who managed to set aside the form-filling to sneak out of their nick long enough to raid a string of pubs that were showing live Premiership football matches without the express permission of Sir Rupert Murdoch.

(For the uninitiated, the broadcast of live football matches in this country is prohibited between 3pm and 5pm on a Saturday afternoon, the idea being that all those people denied the privilege of watching Manchester United play Chelsea will flock down to their local non-league club to watch 22 half-drunken plasterers hoofing the ball up and down a muddied, sloping pitch. In reality, landlords buy dodgy satellite receivers and tune into the foreign channels that show any number of English matches live. And sell pints for £2.)

Two things bothered me about this story. Firstly, we must wear a hat made out of a spare copy of the Daily Mail and shout: “Haven’t they got anything better to do?”

Secondly, the raids were carried out by “police officers and staff from the Media Protection Services”. Who are they then? Did you know your local plod had set up a special unit to protect the profits of an Australian billionaire? Why are we wasting our own limited resources on this issue when Old Rupe is wealthy enough to hire hit-squads of machine gun-carrying Hummers to patrol the boozers of our Northern inner-cities?

Who knows – perhaps your local Plod gets free copies of The Sun and pictures of Page 3 girls beamed direct to their mobiles in exchange for this valuable service. Or perhaps not.

from Cumbria, where firefighters had to cut a 19-year-old man free after his Fiat Punto crashed into a water buffalo on the A590. Police, presumably from the local Buffalo Protection Unit, said the privately-owned buffalo, called William Shakespeare, died at the scene. It had escaped from a nearby field.

Now I know it’s one of those stories that has to be read twice, but what would you call your water buffalo? Keith?

William Shakespeare is as good a name as any, so let’s have no laughing at the back.

, however, smile at the fate of Stephen Strange (not, as far as I know, the one from the popular 1980s beat combo Visage).

Mr Strange, from Chippenham, developed an unnatural interest in what went on in ladies’ tanning salons. Thus, when a 22-year-old woman stripped off and lay on a sun-bed, she was somewhat surprised two minutes later when there was a crash and Mr Strange’s face appeared through a gap in the ceiling. I suppose it could have been worse.

He was hauled before the courts, presumably by the local Sunbed Voyeurism Special Patrol Group and received a suspended sentence, probably in tribute to the suspended ceiling that literally let him down.

When challenged by the girl, Strange had said that he “just wanted to see what people do in here.” Yes, and my name’s William Shakespeare.

WE REGULARLY mock the courts for spending thousands of pounds of our money on prosecuting cocktail sausage-throwers and their ilk. This week we had the case of the Flip Flop Martyr, a young lady called Kathleen Jenkins, who was taken to court by train company Merseyrail for putting her feet on their seats. She appeared in court on Tuesday, courtesy of the local Seat/Foot Interface Enforcement Squad, and was more or less let off, with magistrates criticising the company for bringing the case in the first place. She then became a Page 3 girl – in the Daily Telegraph.

But hang on – why shouldn’t she have been hauled before the beak? It may seem like a minor offence, but isn’t it time we cracked down on this sort of anti-social behaviour? Let’s have a bit of zero tolerance for a change.

Much was made of the fact that a conviction might affect Ms Jenkins’ ambitions to be a schoolteacher, but do we really want someone who shows so little respect for others put in charge of our children? I think not.

Of course, what the papers might not tell you is that this prosecution is part of a campaign by Merseyrail to improve behaviour on trains that has been running since February. Over 250 people have been taken to court, and a further 600 are awaiting their appearances. So the only reason such a fuss has been made over this case is because Kathleen Jenkins is a photogenic, attractive young woman who happens to be a Cub Scout leader who also works with disabled children.

Well I’m sorry, but in the eyes of the law she should be treated no differently than your average alcopop-swigging, innocent-bystander-killing, gun-wielding hoodie. So a conditional discharge it is then.

OF COURSE, why should we stop at prosecuting people who put their feet on seats? Surely there are far more offensive crimes committed on public transport on a daily basis?

There’s the constant zizz-zizz-zizz of the morons with the iPods, the braying tactlessness of the shouting fools with the mobile phones, the people who seem to think it’s quite acceptable to eat their breakfast or lunch, drooling and slack-jawed, in front of their fellow passengers.

But the worst offenders, to my mind, are the staff themselves. I mean, who was it who told train guards that they were brilliant raconteurs, the Peter Ustinovs of the railway network? Frankly, I don’t want some gibbering idiot reciting a monotonous mantra about making sure I don’t leave any luggage behind, and that this station is so-and-so and that we’ll also be calling at Braindead Junction, Nincompoop Central and Poltroon Parkway. All I care about is that they wake me up when I arrive at my stop, particularly on the way back from London after a heavy lunch.

So cut the comedy and get on with persecuting the seat foulers.


Anonymous possum fancieer said...

Bazza, I hate to be pedantic, but your readers here in the Antipodes would like to point out that Rupert is actually a Yank, because under US law, a foreigner can not own a US newspaper, and being a power-hungry, greedy bastard, he took US citizenship.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Black Dog said...

You must be glad to get rid of him then, eh?

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

I hear a new car has just been launched in Portugal. It has room in the boot for small child. It's called the Renault McCann.

4:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No surprise to me to learn of the Media Protection Squad. In my 30 years as a front line copper I lost count of the number of 'elite' squads which were formed. It then seemed to be the prime objective of probationer officers (sorry, now to be known as student officers)to get their two years done and then find a way onto one of these squads and away from real police work. If you want to know where all the bobbies have gone, this is your answer. Take a look at a police staion car park, bursting at the seams on week days and then see it after dark and at weekends!

5:24 AM  

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