Archive for November, 2008

New Boots and Ponchos! (amended)

Friday, November 28th, 2008

I have had a number of emails and comments from people regarding the debate about how will equipped the forces are in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is always a difficult question to answer, because since the dawn of time if you give blokes kit they want more and better kit and you never really get an accurate picture of what they have or don’t have in the field.

I have no doubt, that in cave man days you could hand out a fearsome club only to hear blokes moaning that such and such unit has flint headed spears and bear skins.  Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong having your club in your hand and slipping into a nice warm beaver, but I digress.

The thing in the papers at the moment is, that this government has cut corners and not bought essential kit.  I have no doubt that it is as true today as it was under Mrs Thatcher and the conservatives.

The talk at the moment is about the use of the snatch landrover but going back to the tories there were a few examples of equipment fiascos.

The poncho is one of the best bits of kit an infantry man can have.  It keeps you and your kit dry when it is raining and with a few bungees and some crafty know how it turns into a basha (which is a sort of bivi/tent).   Absolutely essential part of our kit and a trendy fashion statement too!  However Mrs Thatcher cancelled them and other essential bits of kit so as to help pay for trident missiles.  Do you remember those?  It doesn’t matter if the cannon fodder gets wet because we would have Trident or more to the point MrsT would have her tongue up the arse of President Regan.  Of course the more cynical might suggest that certain people close to MrsT and her government got fat back handers for buying something we were never likely to use.  You might say that, I couldn’t possibly comment.

The second example is footwear.  A very basic but essential bit of a squaddies kit.  In the Falklands trench foot was a big problem because the boots just were not right for the conditions.  They were shite in fact, total and utter bollocks, but that didn’t matter because the truth was nobody in government really cared.  Oh yeah they said the right things “I have sent Mr Parkinson down to Dolcis and he has bought some new loafer for our boys”  but the truth is it was and is too little too late.

In the first gulf war and most blokes had to buy  their own goggles and desert boots, because there were not enough to go round.  OK it all happened a bit quick like by then there is gulf war 2 and fuck me the same thing.  Duh lets fight a war where there lots of sand,  but they don’t need the right boots or goggles because the enemy will run away when they see us coming.  Yeah right!

In fact almost all my unit bought their own kit and specialist always buy their own stuff.

So you see nothing much changes despite the party colours, they talk a good job and make the right noises but in reality the talk falls short of being meningful.

However some things have changed so much and are so readily available that people have lost the ability to function without them.  Night vision equipment for example.  I will accept that it sure beats eating two tons of carrots a day in the hope they will help you see in the dark, but like all things there are pros and cons to them and one should not rely on them 100%. If you do you are stuffed should they fail or for some other reason they are not available.

The same way with air support.  I dont want to comment on individual cases but expecting a helicopter with a winch to turn up at a moments notice in the middle fo a fire fight aint too realistic.  It might be in Rambo films or dies hard 96 but in real life – sorry.

We often find ourselve in less than than favourable situations and you can do one of two things.  Number one is to out think and out fight the opposition and number two is to make what we refer to as a “Tactical withdrawal and regroup” ie fuck off to a safe distance and have a rethink.  We rarely have the luxury of air support.  Mind you, in my experience, if you are relying on the Americans, god bless ’em, you  are generally safer without the gunships.

I suppose the fact that these wars are now fought under the media spotlight has also changed things and we do seemed to have lost sight of the little fact that in armed conflict soldiers get killed.  It is a pisser when it happens and I know I have been lucky and several great friends have not been so fortunate, but it is the nature of the job I am afraid.  We see stuff ion the news and try to balance it with things we have seen in action films.  You would be amazed at how many people do not realise that films are entertainment, fiction and that they use so much artistic licence.  I am talking about professional people like barristers, doctors and coroners.

As I said, technical kit and communications have changed so much both in the military and civilian worldthat we have all  come to rely on it so much.  I mean how long can you go without checking your email or mobile phone.  If you cannot get hold of someone on their mobile everyione thinks something dreadful has happened not that the phone is out of juice, broken or even just in a drawer somewhere.

I accept that it is very useful and I admit to using gadget and gizmos and it can be very useful, but I am beginning to think that people have almost lost the ability to function without it.  The following examples illustrate not just how we rely on this technology but how it can actually be detrimental and just how unrealistic we are about real life situations.

I was recently asked by a company if I would help in recruiting and training “private security” personnel or “Contractors” who would be working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are a responsible company as far as they can be, bearing in mind the theatre of operations that they work in and I know and have worked with most of those running the show.  However it is a awhile since I have been actively involved in recruitment and training like this so I was interested to see the clibre of the person being taken on.

The applicants who were either still serving soldiers or had left the military in the last twelve months would have three days of assessment.

I was sent to a location in Hampshire with two blokes and a lady who together run the company’s personnel department or is it called the  HR department, I forget.

On day 1 they  held a series of interviews and aptitude tests with the applicants.  It was all very scientific and asymmetric.  I just stood around being “part of the team” and “Impartial observer” whilst the lady and two chaps got stuck into their roles.

Day 2 I was joined by BF, SB and Boris and we moved on to the practicals such as first aid, weapon handling, unarmed combat and some basic field craft and procedures which were overseen by the “personnel team”.  Needless to say some of the applicants were better than others.  There was a Geordie who was miles ahead of them and a bit of a wit to boot and all of us in my team had him flagged as being top notch.

At the end of the day had a de-brief.  I addressed the group and decided to highlight a couple of weaknesses that had been identified.  I looked at the list and said something along the lines of “Some of you weren’t to hot a creeping through bushed quietly.  Mister….” but before I could go any further the woman stood up and said quite loudly “What are you doing, you cannot single somebody out in front of the group, its humiliating and degrading”

With that the Geordie spoke up “Why aye man just like you’ve hooomilieighted the bossman like.  I say man want to be suing her for emotional trauma and all like”  The group started laughing and so did I, but she did not see the funny side.  “You need to feed back individually so as to encourage rather than disappoint”  she scolded.  Naughty Norman in your basket, bad boy!

I handed her the folder “Sounds fine by me, get on with it then and feed back individually I am sure you will be make a better job of it than we will” and sat down  I waasn’t being huffy just accepting this is her field.  The group looked on. she smiled and then said her smooth management style “Everyone can go except Smith Riley, Jones and Brown”.  So much for sparing their feelings!

The group stood up and Geordie said “Excuse me pet but I feel like these lads is gettin summet special and I feel hoomilieaighted at being excluded like”

She did not see the funny side but we did.

The night of day 2 we did a field exercise.  They were woken up at 2.30am and herded into the wet cold night and had to walk about half a mile before being made to pile in to two transit vans and then dropped off around the training area.  They were given a map and a compass and told to make their way to  point X – which was only 5 miles away- in less than 4 hours.

Out of twenty four applicant only eight made it in the alotted time.  The first back in a time of 90 minutes was the Geordie. Despite being cold wet and tired he was in good spirits. The second bloke was about 30 minutes slower but still ready for a laugh and a brew.

To be fair there  were a couple who were ten minutes over time, but the rest……….bloody hopeless.

The training area was a bit hillyish with scrub, gorse bushes and trees and should have been familiar to them as it was stones throw from bloody Aldrershot,  It was not  the rain forests of the Amazon for crying out loud. Words fail me and I can tell you that’s a rare event.   It was not a hard task, they knew they were not being hunted or going to be attacked.  All they had to do was to go from A to B using a map and compass.  The area is festooned with paths and tracks worn down by thousand of brutalised soldiers of ther years.

The reasons they gave for doing so badly and this is in no particular order was that it was dark, wet, they couldn’t see, it was tough terrain, they didn’t know where they were, they were tired, the map wasn’t very clear, the compass didn’t work right,  but the reality was that every man jack of them was no longer used to using a map and a compass because they had all expected to use GPS.

Day 3 started with a briefing.  This was going to be a movement of vehicles which would end with them deploying to a training area where they would patrol and carry out property searches.  They knew they would be attacked at some point on the exercise and of course we didn’t disappoint.  They weren’t bad to be fair and worked well as a team and moved well.  However the Geordie stood out like set of dogs bollocks when it came to leadership and initiative plus he spoke French and Spanish.  At one point we had engaged them and BF shouted something to me in French and the Geordie quick as a wink had it translated and shouted our intentions to his team and got one of the others to relay it to team B.  When we tried the same trick in Spanish he was on the ball again.

Amongst us and the other applicants they knew he was either SAS or SAS material not because he is a super man or well ard like, but because he has that something.  In the end the applicants did a really good job despite never having worked together and having come from different units etc.

We sat down with the personnel people to go over our notes and observations.  Whilst there was nobody who was truly terrible there were some who were weak and who you knew would become casualties, but that’s the army.  To cut a long story short, they liked the weakest candidates best.  I suppose they wouldn’t moan or be too bolshie and cause them the company any grief.  The only candidate they rejected was – you’ve guessed it the Geordie – because he showed too much initiative and was outspoken and rude.  Clearly this woman didn’t feel a grunt should hoomilieight her when she is on 100K +.

But you know one mans poison is another mans nectar and his rejection by them was good news for us because we snapped him up.

The second example is the mobile telephone.  A massive number of women who are attacked or run over were talking or texting on their mobiles at the time.  Why? Because they are not paying attention to their surroundings.  Everyone goes on about people using their phone when they are driving and just think that you can yak away when walking, but it just isn’t so.  And ask yourself this, what is so important.  I suggest that if you have to walk and talk take a leaf from Harry Hills book and kept the message brief and omit non  essential words.  For example “Taggart TV no spare tape” “Home in ten kettle on” or even better still “Norwich”.    Is Taggart still on TV?

There have been cases of US troops being killed whilst on the dog and bone to their loved ones.  I cannot imaging what would posses anyone to use your mobile while on patrol or in a fire fight, but then I am an old fuddy duddy but a live fuddy duddy none the less.

The last example is to do with email.  Below is an extract of a report submitted to a team invetigating the hacking of an internet system used by American military personnel in Iraq. The contents of the emails were quite explicit and have caused familly problems which have in turn have not helped morale…

I know there are a few exceptions, but by in large blokes take a dim view to their best mates fucking their wives and as for sending them photos….the words salt and wound spring to mind.  There have been unfortunate consequencesWhy do we need to have email and internet access in a war zone?  Because if we do it helps for people to stay in touch and for you to see what they are doing while you are away being shot at.  Call me old fashioned but what the eye dont see and ignorance is bliss are just two expression that I can think of.

Got to go the mobile is ringing and I am trying to look at the sat nav and work the indicators of this damend car.

Beam me up Scotty and dont forget my ipod.

A kiss

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

 I have a had a lot of emails from people asking “why do you kiss people on the forehead?”

The war to end all wars., though I am not sure that the term Great War is appropriate.

Combined military and civilian casualties was over 40 million — 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. This includes 9.7 million military deaths and about 10 million civilian deaths.

The Allies lost more than 5 million soldiers and had more than 12 million wounded, The Central Powers lost about 4 million soldiers and had about 8.5million wounded.

Which has always made me wonder how we apparently won.

I think it is hard to comprehend the scale of destruction and loss.  On the first day of the Battles of the Somme 60, 000 British troops relieved the French.  By the end of the day there were 20,000 dead and 40,000 injured.

When I was about 24 I was a young Paras officer and  I went to Bradford with Skinny Bob to see his granddad who was dying.  He was a cheerful old bloke with bright eyes and a cheeky wit.  I said something along the lines of how sorry I was to meet him in such circumstances.

“These circumstances” He rasped laughingly “You mean cos I’m dying young un?”

“Well yes” I said awkwardly

He laughed like a bloody drain and then said “How old are you young man”

“twenty three”

“I’ll tell thee summet lad it’s thee I feel sorry for.  I’ve ‘ad me three score and ten plus some and you’re not even a third of the way there and you don’t even know if you’ll make it especially in your job!” he laughed.

Bobs Mum was crying and it was obvious the old boy was on his final approach to his stepping from this life to the next.

“By heck woman will you stop with your wailing, arm not scared o’ dyin I was at the first day of the Somme and I can tell you Hell cannot be any worse than that, besides which I should be meetin up wi me old mates.  I reckon I’ll be well bladdered tonight”

“You were at the Somme” I asked

“Yes I was” he said seriously

“You can tell me to sod off but was it as bad as I think it was.

He looked at me dead in the eye and motioned me to sit down on the side of the bed and held my hand and the twinkle was gone.

“Half-past seven in the morning on the first of July 1916, and the whistles were blowing and the shells were coming over, and it was hell upon earth.  Everybody dashed out of the trenches and everybody was doing the best they could.

It was the machine gun fire that caused all the damage.

It wasn’t the shell fire.

And there were no gaps in the wire emplacements there were just no gaps.

We had to find the best way we could, you see.

The other battalion had come over before us. There were so many dead lying about and it was almost impossible because the other battalion had come over before us. There were so many dead lying about scattered all over the place. I was a member of the 18th West Yorkshires, 2nd Bradford Pals, on that particular day and out of the battalion strength of 800 there were only 147 left at the end of the day.

It was a massacre, they were just wiped out.

No chance at all. It was pure massacre and anybody who says it wasn’t is just telling a pack of bloody lies.

At 8 o’clock the whole brigade, the whole lot, were wiped out in half-an-hour. By the afternoon there were 63,000 casualties, and it all took place in the first hour, just like that.”

He looked at me with horror and tears in his eyes.  I could feel the tears running down my face as I watched this man relive what none of us can imagine.

He held my hand and then said  “You know if a mate thought you were dead he would kiss you on forehead so you might have one last pleasant thought in that hell hole of your mam or wife or whoever” he took my face in both hands and pulled my head down and kissed me on the forehead.

“Make me a promise young man, promise me you wont forget and that you will be a better officer than they had then”

“I will do my best”

“And don’t forget Norm that the little kiss on the head tells the bloke everything is alright even though it might not be.”

I am privileged to have met this man who taught me so much in such a short space of time. I was honoured to have heard a first hand account of that terrible day from somebody who was there.

I have tried to keep my promise and I hope I haven’t let him down.

Its hard to explain really but we kiss the forehead partly to make somebody feel better, partly for them to know you are on their side but also as a mark of respect and remembrance.   If they could do it in the midst of the battle of the Somme so can we.

Does any of that make any sense?  sorry if it doesn’t.

11th November

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

poppies.jpg

Jenny Was A Friend Of MIne

Monday, November 10th, 2008

A few weeks ago some friends gave me a load of DVDs in the hope of letting me catch up with what’s been happening in the world of Tv and film.  One of the films was “Confetti” a romantic comedy which is shows four couples who have been selected to take part in a wedding competition organised by a magazine.  Anyway there is a scene where they go to a wedding fair and one of the woman gets a make over and walks down the catwalk in a wedding dress.  Her partner played by Marin Freeman watches and his eyes well up with tears and he is moved at seeing the woman he loves all dressed up.  There is a song that plays which coupled with his excellent acting makes the whole thing very real and touching.

That song and two recent posts by Joanne Cake over at Having my Cake and Eating it  have prompted me to tell this story.  I did think about telling this story after a couple of posts I saw last week and then changed my mind, but have changed it back when I read her recent post about relationships.

I am still not sure I am doing the right thing telling this, but having made a decision I will stick with it.  I have had to change names and a few minor details and have tried to keep it as relevant as possible.  It maybe a bit long, but really I don’t want to break the story up.  In fact i cant break it up.

A couple of years ago I got a call from a lady called Jenny who lived on her own in Fulham who was having a bit of a problem with some yobs.  Not been a million miles away from where I lived, it was no big deal to pop down there to see just what the problem was.

Jenny met me at the door and was in her early forties, very pretty with big brown eyes, chestnut hair and and a lovely smile.  She reminded me of that woman Susan Stranks who used to be on Magpie when I was a kid.  There is no doubt about it she “was crumpet” as Bob would put it so succinctly.   Now, the thing is that at first glance when she opened the door to me she looked OK, but as we made our way into her living room she moved  very slowly and painfully and was clearly very feeble on her two pins.  When we got into the living room she collapsed exhausted into her wheel chair.

As I said at first glance you would be hard pushed to know that there was anything wrong with her, but the truth was that she was practically confined to a wheelchair.  It transpired she had some kind of neurological degeneration (which I think was due to TB in her spine) and some form of MS, I don’t know exactly what was wrong, but the long and the short of it was that she was a very ill lady.  Because she was vulnerable,  the local shit bags thought it a right laugh to throw stones at her windows and do various acts of vandalism and generally make her life miserable.

The first few minutes of our chat she kept it together and then the dam burst and it all came out.  It wasn’t just the yobs, it was a whole accumulation of things.  She had been a data analyst for a city bank and had been very well paid.  When she was first ill they were accommodating and eventually she worked from home, then they put her on a consultancy or free lance and slowly but surely the work dried up, not because she couldn’t do it, but because they were embarrassed at being with her and her condition and didn’t know how to handle it.

At the same time work dried up her husband left having been shagging her best friend for the last couple of years.  If that wasn’t bad enough he and the best friend moved to Australia – taking a major chunk of their joint saving and the two kids who were 20 and 22 went with him.  Her kids couldn’t be arsed to keep in touch with their mum.  I don’t know their side of it of course but this is what she told me.  She was an only child and her parents were dead. She had friends, but with the separation and divorce plus the fact that when can’t get out much and suffer the indignities these conditions can pile on you it is easy to drop off the social radar.  I known that from experience, your wife and klids die and suddenly you are a social leper, not that that really bothered me too much.  I digress.

So it was that she had spent her 40th birthday on her own in her house.  She was alone.  Not being disabled or sick I don’t know what that kind of loneliness is like and cannot begin to imaging, but from looking and listening to this lady I suspect it is desolate, totally desolate.

Fortunately, my trusty, ever present clean hankie came to hand and I was able to stem the flood of tears.  I put the kettle on and we chatted for ages over a few cups of tea.  I told her about Alison and the girls and it became dark and then the yobs turned up.  It was a swift one sided chat and they were advised that if they came back they would be looking for the service of a dentist.

What is wrong with people? I really don’t get it,  you give these fuck wits fair warning and do they listen?  No of course not.  The next night they came back, but then so did we and we  were six up.  The problem was very quickly and amicably resolved – well from our point of view anyway. They came back once more after that and the ring leader had to have the terms of our agreement reinforced properly, just so there was no more misunderstandings.  Funnily enough that was that.

The job was done but I popped in  fairly frequently over the next few weeks just to make sure they didn’t come back and to make sure she was OK.  She mentioned fairly on in proceedings that her house was on the market and that she intended to move to a more suitable location for her illness and then not long after this she told me she had accepted an offer on the house and would moving quite soon. A couple fo days later she randg me and asked if I could come and see her to discuss some business.

She asked if I would be able to arrange an escorted journey to Switzerland as she intended to use some of the money from the sale of her house for a holiday and treatment in a clinic in Switzerland.  she said it was time she though of her self rather than putting everyone else first.  I said I could arrange for one of the girls I work with to go with her, but she asked me if I would do it. I said I would think about it.

She went on about the trip and after looking at commitments and other things I said I would do it and she asked for a written quote for my services which I gave her.  Time ticked on and as I said she was so alone and being not far from where I lived I thought there’s no harm in popping in a few times a week for a chat and a cuppa, besides which the truth be told I didn’t have anyone to go back to and we got on pretty well and had quite a good laugh.

One day in Spring it was a lovely day and a job I was on had finished sooner than  had thought so I suggested we went out somewhere for a day.  I hired a suitable jam jar and we went out to Windsor and the Great Park and then had some grub at a pub I know near Virginia Water.  It was a good day out, but when I said we should do it again she became a bit quiet.  When I asked her what was up she said I was taking her out because I felt sorry for her.  I said that was partly true, but I felt sorry for myself as well and also I enjoyed her company.  She laughed and said she admire my honesty and said that I could continue to feel sorry for her provided she could feel sorry for me.  A deal was struck up and we shook hands on it.

So it was, I would pop in three or four times a week and when she was well enough I took her out and  we had a good time.  In fact we started going out a fair bit when she could.

I have to say I had not realised how piss poor our so called caring Britain was when it came to being disabled and going out.  As a nation we are more concerned with friggin dogs and cats that people it is a disgrace.  Oh yeah, they all talk a good job, but in general the facilities are rubbish most of the time and as for disabled parking, don’t get me started.  If I had to remonstrate with some ignorant bloody yuppie once I had to do it a hundred times.  Well maybe not a hundred, but quite a few.  On one occasion I took Jenny to a restaurant and as we arrived and were just about to park in the one disabled parking space, a BMW pulled up screeched into the disabled parking space. A man and woman got out and they were  as disabled as I was.  I called to them and the bloke came over.  I explained the situation and mentioned that he didn’t seemed disabled and would he mind moving his car so we could park there.  His explanation astounded me.  He was a doctor having a meeting with a drugs rep and he was late.  His missus, the stuck bitch said and I quote “there are other parking places you can use”  I said to her why didn’t they do that.  She told me to “fuck orf” turned and walked off and Dr twat laughed and shrugged and said “what can you do?”.

Silly me I thought he was asking for a demonstration so I showed him. He might have been a doctor but his first aid was crap, but he moved the car afterwards and I suspect he never did it again, but it spoilt the night out for us.  Actually it didn’t, but we went to a different restaurant as I had a feeling the police were going to interrupt our dinner at some point.

We had become friends – a bit of an odd couple in some respects but friends none the less.  However she pushed me to sort the details for the trip and was a stickler for details and proper costings.

After a couple of months I had to work away for about three or four weeks.  It was a very tough job in Somalia and I felt done in when I got back.  When  I saw Jenny I was really shocked at how weak she looked, maybe it was because I hadn’t seen her for awhile and prior to that had got used to seeing her, but I felt she had visibly deteriorated.

I asked her how she was, but she played her cards close to her chest and kept the medical visits and consultations private.  To be fair although I was on friendly terms we did still have a business relationship and I was still a relative stranger.

Then one day about a week  later she rang me to say that the house sale was going to complete very soon and she wanted to finalise the trip and could I pop into see her.  When I got there she was really bubbly and looked fantastic she also said that she had come into some money so the big news was that the trip was on and she had decided to go for the treatment at a clinic in Switzerland.  She had decided that she might not be well enough in the future so she wanted to make the trip a real blow out holiday.   I have to tell you I was taken a back but pleasantly encouraged  by her “up and at ’em” attitude and said it sounded great.

She then said she need invoices from me for organising and accompanying her on this luxury trip across Europe.  I said that I would be happy to go with her for free.  She was livid and said that feeling sorry for her was one thing but giving her charity was not what she wanted.  Was I a professional or not? I argued back but she was adamant and said that if I did not do it officially and charge her the proper rate she would get somebody else who would.  I was a bit offended to be honest and felt that she had taken mercenary code  –  go anywhere, do anything provided you get paid for it- too literally.  I mean I put some shelves up for my mum once and gave her a family discount!

Jenny wasn’t having it.  It had to be business – proper business,  she was to be invoiced which she would pay by cheque in advance, all expenses charged to her and pre paid because she didn’t want any cock ups, receipts to be kept or I wasn’t going, it was not open to discussion, it had to be that way.  I threw in the towel and drew up a final itinerary based on her requests.  Paris, Lake Como, Rome then  Zurich before heading home.  She wanted first class rail, five star hotels, good restaurants, luxury cars a no expense spared top notch trip.

I did as I was told and she paid me in full before we left.

We went from London to Paris first class on Eurostar and stayed at the Inter Continental Paris le Grand Hotel.  She had a very swish suite and I had booked the cheapest room I could swing – which I can tell you was a bloody fierce price.

The weather was good and Jenny had insisted on a dining on a bateau Mouche.  The early summer evening was wonderful.  I had arranged for a bottle of champagne on my account and when they brought it she said “I didn’t realise we had ordered Champagne”

The smooth waiter said ” Monsieur ordered it for Madam”

She looked at me crossly “Norman what did I say”

I took her hand and kissed it inb that frog manner, smiled and said  in my best Inspector Clouseau accent” I could not come to Paris in the summer with a beautiful woman and not buy her champagne could I?” she smiled and then her eyes welled up with tears which she fought back.  Norm – you clummsy twat.

“Norman don’t tease me its not fair” she said sadly

“I’m not teasing you mon amour, I meant it”

“Really?”

“Really really” – Shrek voice.

She smiled and her face glowed her eyes twinkled and there was something, I don’t know why but  she reminded me of my girls opening their Christmas presents.  It was a moment that  I knew that I had a future and that I was coming out of the dark after everything had been taken from me and into the light where I could get something back from life.  It was a moment I will never forget.

The meal and evening were perfect and we went back to the hotel.  She was in good form and I helped her to her suite and then she said she needed help getting ready for bed.  She had always seemed to do alright on her own, but maybe she was tired. She was looking a bit tired, but maybe it was the champagne or Paris but she was really beautiful.

Then she went all quiet, shy and pensive.  She then looked at me and said very quietly “Norman will you sleep with me tonight, I can’t have sex anymore, but if a gentleman has to buy a lady champagne in Paris surely a lady has the right to ask him to make love with her.”  She looked up and again there was that something in her eyes that I can’t explain, maybe it is something too personal and touching that I don’t want to explain.

I slept with her and held her close and kissed her face lips and hair, she smelt like heaven on earth and I think I felt every breathe she took that night.

The next day we did the sight seeing bit and ate well and then I picked up a hire car which we were going to use for the rest of the trip.  It was a big merc.  She had been very specific.  “Luxury with a big L.  Norman, this is a a once in a life time trip I want to do it properly”.  We drove down through France and headed to Lake Como just in case we bumped into George Clooney.   We didn’t, but we did have few wonderful days there before heading to Rome and the Rocco Forte Hotel De Russie which is between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo on the Via del Babuino where we were staying for four nights.

Every night she would ask me to hold her in bed and kiss her and every night I was only too happy to oblige.  The weather in Rome was hot, too hot for her really and she was wilting like a fragile flower, but being a stubborn cus she was hell bent on enjoying every minute of her blow out trip and enjoy it she did.

Then it was off to Switzerland at a leisurely pace and she was in really good spirits.

I have to be honest and say that Zurich has never been my favourite destination for a variety of reasons.  Arms shipments and wars are financed from here.  Numbered accounts and all sorts of underhand activity abound. It is well dodgy and my opinion remains the same to this day.  Anyway having got there and sorted out at the hotel etc she had to make some phone calls to the medical people re her treatment.

We had a great meal that night and lovely evening and Jenny looked  more beautiful than I had ever seen her.  That night as I held her she said

“You wont forget me Norman?”

“How do you mean?”

“When I move”

“Don’t be such a prawn how could I.  Any way you’re only moving, its not as if your going to the other side of the world is it?”

She let out a contented sigh and snuggled up and I don’t know if it was my imagination but I thought I felt a lot of tension leave her and she relaxed against me.

“Do you think you could love me?”

I knew she was special and how much she meant to me but I wasn’t sure if I really loved her then, but maybe I did and had just forgotten how it felt.  I thought for an Instant I didn’t want to lie, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and said “if you weren’t special I wouldn’t be here would I”

“I suppose not” she said and let out another contended sigh and snuggled up to me and said “But do you think you could love me”

Nothing for it “I do love you, in fact you are the only thing I really have, I just didn’t realise it”

She let out a little laughed and elbowed me “Good, I thought you did and I just wanted to know” and then she was asleep.

The nest day I took her to the clinic, which was actually in a exclusive apartment block rather than a hospital.  I waited for her and she came out about an hour later and was very upbeat and happy she said she had to go back the next day.

The next day we went back to the clinic and this time she asked me to come up with her and to wait with her.  It was a very nice flat expensively furnished, but still with a sort of clinical hospital feel to it.  A nurse came out and Jenny went into a room and they asked me to wait.  About five minutes later I went in to a light warm room. Jenny was sitting in bed in a night gown.  She smiled and extend her hand which I took and held and sat down on the chair next to her.  We chatted and then she said “Do you really love me or were you making me feel better”  I looked her in the eyes and again there was that something.

“You should know me better than that by now, of course I love you, that’s why I am here” I said squeezing her hand

“I love you Norman and that’s why I am here”

I leant over and kissed her gently.

The nurse came back in.  She was a pleasant cheerful lady and she had a glass in her hand.  She looked at Jenny and then said “Jenny Is this your last day because this will be your last drink?”.

The enormity of the words took and instant before they reached the brain and I computed their meaning.  I felt the room spin.

“Yes it is” Jenny said brightly but firmly.

The nurse smiled and said “After you drink this it’s over, you will sleep in two to five minutes and afterwards you will die.”

I was stunned by what I had heard and just couldn’t believe it.  Jenny looked at me “I am sorry Norman, but I only have a matter of months at the most. I wanted to go happy and after so much pain and heart ache, please don’t be cross” and she touched my cheek.  I could feel the tears welling up but knew that no whatever else this was not the time or place.

“You love me, I know that and to have just these few months of love and friendship from you is the best thing I could have asked for.  I want to go out on a high with good memories.  We have never had a row and you make me laugh and most of all I love you and its because I love you that I had keep this secret.”

“I dont understand, why”

“I had to pay you to bring me here just in case there was any come back, and thats partly why I didn’t tell you, I couldn’t tell you, you understand don’t you”

Of course I didn’t understand, but I smiled and said “Of course” even though I didn’t know which way was up.  I lent over and kissed her again.

The nurse stood there patiently and when there was nothing else to be said by us she said again “Are you sure you want this to be your last drink?”

“Yes I am”

The glass was handed over and Jenny took it and drank it and the passed the empty glass back to the nurse before laying back.  “Will you hold me Norman like in Paris”

“Of course” and I held her close and kissed her

“its been good hasn’t it”

“Its been fantastic” I said and gave her one small kiss and just as her eyes were getting heavy I said “I love you”

She smiled and said “Thank you” and she drifted off to sleep.

I held her until I knew she was dead kissed her forehead as is our way and it was over the world had stopped turning for a second time in my life.

I had a conversation with the nurse and she asked if I was Ok or something and I walked out of the building into the sunshine.

Five minutes later my mobile rang.  Would I go to Somalia again?

Why not?

So what has this got to do with Confetti, well the song that is played in the scene I described is called tomorrow in her eyes and it just seemed to capture that look I have so ineptly tried to describe.

I see tomorrow in her eyes
And where my future lies
So I don’t need a crystal ball
At all because I’ve seen tomorrow
In her eyes

Whenever life tears us away
I’ll hold on to the words we say
And if I have to wait awhile
Then I’ll be dreaming of tomorrow
And her smile

Someday soon love
Someday soon love
There’ll be time for you and I love

And time shall hold no sad surprise
More hellos than goodbyes
So I don’t need my fortune told
I know because I’ve seen tomorrow
In her eyes

No, I don’t need a crystal ball
At all because I’ve seen tomorrow
In her eyes

I’ve seen tomorrow in her eyes

Barker 4 – Private Investigations

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

I initially thought I would speak to Minton/Barker first, but it was apparent that he didn’t feel like a chin wag, so I searched him, just in case he had any other weapons he might think of using.  He didn’t, but he did have a wallet in which was over £1000 plus credit cards, driving licence, club id and loads of other stuff all in the name of David Barker. There was a small bunch of keys that he had used to open the drawer to the desk in the office plus some BMW car keys.  I put the wallet and keys in my pocket and decided to speak to the real Barker and the woman instead.

I got the duct tape off Barkers mouth and the first thing he said was “Sorry about all this sir, I think I fucked up a bit” There was no doubt that our Dave Barker hadn’t changed  much.  I found that he had been secured with cables ties and duct tape.  A real belt and braces job.

My question to him was simple “What the fuck is going on here David?”

I went to the woman and started to untie her as Dave started to tell me the story.

“I have been doing private security and investigation work and was contacted by this woman because she thought her husband was cheating on her.  Turned out that her husband was that cunt Minton, the fucking cry baby who got me in a load of shit when I was in the job, when I hadn’t done anything, in fact if those two wankers had been able to handle themselves in the first place they would never have got them selves in such a shite situation…”

Clearly this was still a touchy subject, but it didn’t help me understand what was going on and what, if anything, it had to do with me

“David” I interrupted “Just give me the bare bones of what THIS is all about and you can fill me in on the full history later on if needs be”

“Sorry sir, right well, she told me where he worked and all that sort of stuff so I sat up on him and followed him off.  He was very surveillance conscious, in fact paranoid would be a better way of describing it, but I was better than him and yeah he was cheating on her, in fact he wasn’t just over the side, he was leading a double life in more ways than one.  She (indicating the woman) knows him as Dave Minton and that is his real name, but his soon to be new wife knows him as Dave Barker and everyone here at the wedding knows him as that.  The thing is,  he has stolen my identity and did so way back when we were in the job together.  Says he was ex Para etc did this, served here etc and is now apparently involved in some sort of secret squirrel work and that explains why he is away so much.  In actual fact he was going home to see her and his kids”

That sort of answered some questions

“So where had you got to?”

“I had photos of him with the new fiancé at clubs and restaurants plus he has a couple of other birds on the go as well.  Plus, if that’s not enough  he likes to frequent the toms in Soho and the west end.  Mrs Minton decided she was going to divorce him and wanted a reasonable pay off.  I have to say that she is a pretty reasonable lady and lives a fairly ordinary life in an ordinary house and I don’t think she knew how much this bloke is worth.  He is loaded, but I can tell you it’s not all honest money.”

“How’s that” I asked

“Ah well, Its a bit complicated you see” Why didn’t that surprise me? “His company ie Mintons company does some kind of bathroom supplies or plumbing yet he has several operations in the name of Barker, one of which trades in mobile phones, yet  I have never seen any delivered to any of his premises.  The thing is I saw from his records at companies house that he was making big money from it.  The other thing is that he has made visits to quite a few unlikely retail premises around London and the south east and up in Brum and the west midlands and they don’t seem like his sort of thing at all.  They are crappy looking shops selling kitchen appliances and tvs and stuff one even sells cheap sports goods.

“Look I have the gist, we can talk about the other stuff later, but why am I involved in this?”.  I asked

Dave looked a bit sheepish.  No he didn’t, he looked a lot sheepish and let out a big sigh “I said I was your right hand man.  It happened by accident about a year ago, somebody asked if they knew this “Uncle Norman” and from the description I knew it was you and so I said I did.  I was a bit pissed and I was looking for some good jobs and said I was your head honcho.  I have to be honest I have done quite a few jobs in your name”  He looked at me. “I’m sorry sir I really am”

“Ah well I admire your honesty, but I still cant see why I am here” I said

“Oh yes, sorry , well erm, I got this particular job off the back of you again and Minton thought you knew I was here and that I was reporting to you.  When he and that snide cunt Hanson worked me over with their little stun gun, they got your details from me.  Minton is some kind of wannabe SAS type and I think a) he actually wanted to meet you and b) I think he thought you might be able to make this problem of his wife and the real me go away.  That’s it in a nut shell sir.  I am so sorry to have dragged you into this I really am”

“Yeah well thanks a bunch David, still not much point me getting hot under the collar about it now is there?” I said somewhat grumpily. “How much did Mrs Minton want?” I said

“I had agreed fifteen thousand pounds as a starter” She interjected “With a monthly payment of three thousand plus the house and car and the kids school fees”

“Sorry” I said “Didn’t mean to leave you out”

“That’s alright, you’ve been busy and I’ve been listening, I mean you think you know somebody and then bam eveything you thought was normal and good and Ok just falls apart,  I just don’t know what to believe anymore.  Anyway you don’t want to listen to me moaning do you?”  She was right, of course I didn’t want to listen to anymore drivel, but I did the typical thing and something like “No not at all, must be very upsetting”  She then carried on “David – my David that is- had agreed the details with Mr Barker and then said he wanted me to come here to give me the fifteen thousand in cash and to sign something or other.  When I got here he we went to his office and he showed me the money and then brought me down here to this room, ostensibly to talk and then zapped me with that stun gun zapper thingy.  About and hour later he does the same to Mr Barker”

“How you feeling now?” I asked

“Te tell the truth I am busting for the loo, I kept getting the impression I had peed myself after he zapped me, but apart from that I’m OK”

I said I would see what we could do to sort the toilet problem asap.  I still wasn’t any the wiser really as to what the hell I was doing there, but as far as I could see I had freed two hostages and survived being assaulted and that really I had done more than I should have and that I should really sod off out of it, which I was about to do when something struck me.  “He actually showed you the money?” I asked

“Yes we counted it out and then when he said he wanted to talk to me in another room he put it in the top drawer of his desk”

“And just one\last thing are you actually married to this comedian” I asked her

“Yes” she said “We got married in the West Indies fifteen years ago”

“I don’t suppose you can throw anymore light on this can you?” I asked Pc plod.  He shook his head “Not really, I am beginning to feel like a bit of a lemon, this has got well out of hand”

“Indeed” I agreed.  “Right then you” I addressed Minton now “lets get some answers from you?”

“I want a solicitor I have rights and I am not saying anything” He protested.

I caught the policeman’s eye and he looked embarrassed, shrugged and looked away.

“Am I missing something here?” I asked feeling rage welling up inside me “You think you have rights, who the hell do you think I am Inspector fucking Morse?”

“But…”he retorted pompously.

“No buts fuck head , you started playing way outside the law years ago, so don’t start pleading the 5th with me you pot of piss.  You ring me up and drag me down here by deception for some kind of friggin laugh, well let me show you just what kind of rights you have”  I grabbed him by the hair at the side of the head and lifted him off the floor- the old teachers nip- it wont kill you, but by heck it bloody hurts.  He yelled and tried to struggle and lifted himself up on one hand whilst the other hand flayed about.  Being a nice sort of chap I gave him a swift kick in the nuts as a wedding present.  He doubled up in pain.  I let go off him and he dropped back to the floor.  I will admit that it was unnecessary and I am a little bit ashamed because I don’t approve of gratuitous violence, but on this occasion it made me feel a hell of a lot better.

“Look Minton clearly you are some kind of loon and I have to be honest I don’t know why I am wasting my time here with all of this. As I said, I have been dragged down here under false pretences and into something that had fuck all to do with me.  Not only that, but I have been attacked and assaulted by that tosser”  I bent down and took hold of the hair on the top of Mintons head and pulled him to his feet.

“Right then chaps,  fun as all this is, I am afraid it is time to call this little get together concluded.  Everyone up and out of here, we are going to the office”

“What about me?” asked the policeman

“Yeah and you.  Now then. as far as I and anyone else is concerned you came in here to look for something and slipped and hurt yourself, unless you want to explain to CIB or whatever the complaints people call them selves these days your part in the assault, kidnapping and all the other bollocks that has gone on.  You might get away with it, but I doubt it, besides which I know where you live now so if you go making problems for me I will come after you, your wife, your family even your grannys dog.  Now then any thing about that you dont understand?”

“No”

“Good so we have an understanding?” I asked

“Yes” he nodded.

“Very wise move my friend, right lets go”

We shuffled out of the store room and back to the office.  The Jazz band were getting going and sounded pretty good and there were the sounds of quite a few people outside having a good time.  I would have loved to have stayed, but you now how it is and I always cry at weddings!

Once in the office I locked the door and went to the desk intending to open the drawer with a view to sorting out some of the financial business.    I tried the keys in the large top drawer of the desk and got the right one on the third try.   I had expected to find the wad of money I had seen and probably the fifteen thousand promised to Mrs Minton. I did not expect to find a drawer full of money. There were wads of fifty pound notes, Each wad was labelled as having £5000 100 x £50 notes.  I took three wads and handed them to Mrs Minton.  I handed £2500 to Dave Barker and decided I was due 2500 ex gratia payment for loss of holiday, deception assault not to mention the deep emotional upset and trauma I had suffered at being buggered about.

I wrote out six  receipts, two for each respective payment,  and each was signed by us and countersigned by PC Hanson, who  was initially reluctant to witness the signatures, but I persuaded him that if he didn’t play ball we would double our stake and deny all knowledge of any money.  I kept three of the receipts and left the copies on Mintons desk

And as far as I was concerned, that was that, and I had done more than my bit and it was time to go.  This was far to involved and convoluted for me to stay and waste anymore time.  I stood up and said as much.

The real Dave Barker looked horrified “What about the frauds and his bigamy and all the other stuff?”

“What about it?” I asked genuinely confused “N.M.P”

“What?” said Barker

“Not my problem David”

“Well are we going to leave him to get away with it?” He retorted in a very indignant tone

“Listen Scooby Doo if you want to unravel a mystery be my guest, but don’t expect me to hang around wait for you to unmask old man withers from the amusement park.  I’m off, this is  a job for the old bill, that’s what they’re paid for, and I can tell this for nothing, they don’t take too kindly to people like you and I trying to do their job for them.  I mean, for fuck sake David, you should know that better than anyone you were in the job.”

“Well what about her divorce” He said pointing at Mrs Minton

“She can get a solicitor and do it the usual way and you can provide her with the evidence she needs and charge her for it”

“To be honest I need a loo more urgently than I need a divorce” quipped Mrs Minton. “I agree send me the photos and your evidence and will sort out a solicitor”

“David – take Mrs Minton home.  On the way out find a toilet and do not get into any trouble or discussions with anyone do you hear?”

“Yes sir”, but before he could leave there was another interjection.

“And David stop bandying my name around in public, ring the office and I will see what we can sort out in the way of work in the future”

Barker grinned “Thanks sir I wont forget this”

“I tell you something I bloody wont”

“What about my arm?” whined Hanson

“Oh for crying out loud” I gasped in exasperation “I’ll put it back for you or you can go to hospital, which do you want” I said.  He didn’t look too delighted at the idea of me touching his arm, but decided it was the lesser of two evils.  Actual it popped back in really easily and a couple of minutes later he was looking a much happier.

“Can I still get married to JJ?” asked Minton/Barker in a sort of semi conscious way.

“You can” I said “But there is the little matter of being already married, which I think you will find will make you a bigamist, but I am no expert, ask Hercule Poirot over there” I looked at Hanson “Still want to be best man and a knowing party to an illegal wedding.  Isn’t there an offence of Perjury along with all the other things for both of you?”

“I erm Dave maybe we should have a chat”  Said Hanson.

“Feel free to talk amongst yourselves when I’ve gone”  I stood up and looked at them.  What a mess.  “John, If I were you I would fuck off out of it, but that’s only my advice”

I said a cheery goodbye and left the office.  As I went down the hall the sumptuous JJ walked towards me with another slightly older but nonetheless very strokeable woman and started wagging a finger at me.

“Colonel, you are a very naughty boy, you kept him much longer than you promised you would”

“Oh trust me madam I have been here no longer than necessary I can assure you”

She smiled “Well that’s alright then, can I introduce you to my sister Muriel”

We smiled and exchanged pleasantries and JJ walked on in the direction of the office.  I called after her and she turned and I wished her good luck. She waved a hand in acknowledgement and walked off.  The sister looked at me and then half said half sang very quietly “Oh little sister what have you done, …Its a nice day for a white wedding,… its a nice day to start again” and then sighed and looked at me and shook her head.  Our eyes met and she smiled, shrugged and sighed before following her sister.

You don’t come across many Muriels these days.  In fact I don’t think I have ever come across a Muriel, tee hee.

I went back to my car and got in and opened the windows to let some of the warm air out and let cool air in and just sat for a moment with bloody Billy Idols “white wedding”  going through my head before starting up the car and reversing from my parking spot.  I turned on the radio and wouldn’t have been surprised if Billy Idol had been crooning at me, but instead it was Dire Straits.

Its a mystery to me
The game commences
For the usual fee
Plus expenses
Confidential information
Its in a diary
This is my investigation
Its not a public inquiry

 

I go checking out the report
Digging up the dirt
You get to meet all sorts
In the line of work
Treachery and treason
Theres always an excuse for it
And when I find the reason
I still cant get used to it

 

And what have you got at the end of the day ?
What have you got to take away ?
A bottle of whisky and a new set of lies
Blinds on the window and a pain behind the eyes

 

Scarred for life
No compensation
Private investigations

It all struck a very true chord

Apart from the scarred for life bit.

Oh and the bollocks about no compensation.

Private Investigations

Barker 3 – Dancing In The Dark

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

HTML clipboardThere are lots of self defence experts, websites, movies, books and loads of other stuff that tell you how to do this move, that move etc when attacked with a knife.  In reality the best bit of advice is to run away, I am not joking, back off and run, better to be a live coward than a dead hero as my mum used to say.

Unfortunately, most people attacked with knives don’t even know the assailant is carrying one or that they are being attacked with a knife until they are bleeding and then, there are just some occasions,  like the one I found myself in, when you can’t run away so you do have to actually defend yourself.

I really don’t want to get into the “boys own, my hands are lethal weapons, AH grasshopper, Kung fu Panda” thingy, but I will try to give a very tentative insight as to what to do.

The first thing to remember is that you should always keep your hands in front of you across your abdomen as this helps you to react and block an attack and thus protects your vital organs.

The second thing to bear in mind is that when under stress such as a fight your heart rate goes up rapidly because of the adrenalin.  You are under stress, angry, frightened, excited blah blah blah.  Unfortunately, once your heart rate gets to around 145 – and it will very quickly- you really loose the ability to carry out complex motor movements.   Complex motor movement are multi-muscle every day movements and actions such as putting a key in your car door or in an attack situation pointing and shooting a gun or doing fancy wrist locks and complex restraining holds.

Now then Grasshopper, just about every martial arts move taught in today’s dojos—like reverse punches, front kicks, wrist locks, arm bars, hip throws, etc. requires you to use “Complex” motor movements, which, I think you will agree, for the reasons given earlier is a bit of a tall order for most people unless you are highly trained, very fit and very used to doing them.

Gross motor skills on the other hand are movements you can do without even thinking—like running, charging, raising your arm above your head or lifting your heels off the ground and these should always form the backbone of a simple but effective defence or attack strategy. In any event practice still makes perfect  ask Jason Bourne or James Bond!

In this case I had a bloke hanging round my neck and was in a fairly confined space so my options were limited twice over.

I could have tried to fend off the attacker with the weapon with a series of strikes and kicks, but because I had chummy round my neck I was going to be over powered very quickly.  I could have done a couple of things directly to the “Barker” hanging round my neck, but the other bloke with the weapon would have been on me very quickly and my whole front was exposed which is not a good position to be in.  What I needed to do was to weaken the grip from behind whilst at the same time trying to reduce the target area on offer to the second attacker.  God, that sounds dead boring and over analytical, but bear with me here.

Back to my situation in the cellar.  I didn’t have a hope in hell of doing all if any of those things,  so I simply went limp and dropped to the floor and twisted to my right as I went into a crouch.  The combination of my weight and the sudden unexpected movement downwards and right took the fake “Barker” off guard.  His grip round my throat was weakened and he was pulled forward and off balance slightly.  In order to counter this he tried to stand more upright and countered my move to the right by trying to pull me to the left.  I was now to his right side which meant that my abdomen and precious vital organs were someway out of a direct strike line, whilst “Barkers” whole left side was exposed.  It is the left side where the knife will strike in most cases as most assailants are right handed.

Sure enough, the assailant had closed the gap and had committed to the attack and so jabbed with his weapon.  Of course what he did not realise was that I was no longer standing up right in front of  him and that “Barker” was more or less where I should have been.  The attacker drove the weapon forward and found a target, which I am pleased to say was not me and then something rather unexpected happened.

In fact a few things all happened at once.

Barker suddenly let go of me and sort of stood up before jumping nay leaping backwards whilst making a rather odd “Whuhhhhheeeahhuurrrrrrr” noise.  Having shot backwards he ended up against some shelves where he collapsed to the floor and by the sounds of things, he thrashed about a little bit.  I will be honest and say that I don’t really know, because I was a little preoccupied with the other bloke so didn’t actually look, but there was the sound of some stuff landing on the tiled floor.

The assailant carried on by his momentum,  advanced  and tripped over me head first as I was now crouched on the floor.  As he did so I simply stood up very quickly and my head drove into his groin (that was an unexpected bonus).  As I jumped up he pitched forwards and  I grabbed his left leg and pushed upwards and helped him on his way.  He was taken by surprise and finding himself falling face first to the floor his instincts were to open his  hands and put then out to protect himself as he hit the floor and in doing so dropped his weapon which clattered to the floor.  He hit the ground hard but not as hard as he might have done, but even so managed to kick out in defence as he twisted and tried to fight back back.

Effective close quarter fighting is quick, blunt, dirty, hard and brutal as you try to make every strike count.  If you want a good example watch the fight scene in the toilets at the start of Casino Royale.  There are no fancy moves or fancy wrist locks.  It is hands, feet, head and any other object you can use to disable you opponent.  I should also say that on occasions there’s nowt wrong with the odd bite here or there.  Just make sure you bite them not yourself cos it hurts.

My first kicks found their marks and I think I must have hurt him, because he lost a little of his initial intensity, but nonetheless he carried on and retaliated with surprising composure.  This was somebody who had been taught self defence or unarmed combat to a fairly high level.  However he lacked a certain aggression or violence that separates those who are taught to attack and defend from those who simply defend.

He started to make a move to get up from the ground and I moved in with what’s called a side of hand strike – a bit like a karate chop but much more fluid and far less technical.  I caught him on the side of the neck and the force of the blow sent him backwards on to his bum and his right arm shot into the air.  Time to move in close and finish this bollocks.

I kicked again and again and one hit him tight under the jaw him sent his head back and threw him totaly off balance and he went backwards.  As he did so his right arm came up into the air which I grabbed somewhere around the wrist with both hands.

I pulled the arm straight then forwards and twisted with as much force as I could.  The assailant was forced to the floor unless he wanted me to break or dislocate his arm.  However, he was still composed and knew what he was doing and tried to counter this by forcing his legs out behind himself so as to give himself a chance to flip or roll round and counter the unnatural rotational force being applied to his arm.  I moved in and stamped down on his right shoulder with my left foot. His shoulder gave against the combined force being applied and it came out of its socket.  Not unreasonably, he yelled and I forced it back and up.  I twisted and stamped down on his head.  He grunted and gurgled and his fight left him and his whole body flopped as he gave out, which was just as well because I’m getting too old for this sort of carry on.

I let his arm drop which clearly hurt him and immediately I knelt on the side of his head and told him I was going to search him and that if he fucked about I would hurt him, but if he played ball I would be reasonable.  Always look for the concealed weapon.  I should also explain that  If you control a persons head you control or at least seriously limit what movements they can make.  By kneeling on him it meant In had both hand free should he try to kick off again and it is bloody uncomfortable for the person concerned and nine out of ten times they tend to see sense.  I did a quick search for other weapons, but all I found was a wallet, a set of car keys and a hanky.  I kept the keys and wallet and then got off him and quickly went towards the door, found the light switch and turned it on and then shut the door.

The room was white tiled store cupboard and looked and felt like a mortuary.  The fake “Barker” was against some shelves looking very odd.  My assailant was lying face down and was bleeding fairly profusely from his nose and mouth but nothing too seriously.  I was also aware that my nose was bleeding and that I had a split lip and a throbbing left eye and a bloody sore neck.  Its funny how quite often you are aware of being struck but not actually aware of blows hitting you in these situation.

At the bottom of the steps there was a small black plastic box on the floor which on closer inspection turned out to be a “Runt” stun gun.  That would explain “Barkers” hasty departure from round my neck, he had been zapped not stabbed.

“Time for some  Q&As I think chaps”  I said to no one in particular.  Fake “Barker” was gibbering and drooling and seeing as I wanted quick answers I reckoned it best I talk to the man with the poorly arm.  I am sure that he wouldn’t want somebody ham fisted like me giving him first aid or examining it.  Would you?

He was a weasely looking bloke probably about the same age as myself maybe a bit younger.  He had straw coloured hair and a gaunt face with shifty eyes and even in his injured state you just knew he was a self centred, dishonest, scheming, prick.

“Now then I want some answers and before I start, let me tell you shag, we can do this the easy way or the hard way.  To be honest I don’t give a fuck which way you want to play it, but either way in the space of two minutes I want to know everything.  OK you got that?”  Chummy looked at me and held his injured arm.

“Who is this bloke” I pointed at the fake “Barker”

“David Barker” He croaked.  What a spaz

“Wrong answer my old mate, now lets have a look at that arm”  He held it close to him but even that hurt “Come on just a peep” and grabbed the elbow.  Not unreasonably he thrashed out and yelled.  I let go.

“I’m sorry did that hurt? shall we try again what is his name?”

“David Minton” He croaked splattering blood all overt he floor. “But he also calls himself Dave Barker”

“Why does he do that?”

“I dunno” he said “I didn’t know he did till recently”

“And who exactly are you?”

“John Hanson”

“And what are you doing with the two Mr Barkers and the lady over there”

“I should tell you that I am a police officer” he gasped.

“That’s handy isn’t it, you will be able to tell the local old bill what’s been going on and what you’re doing attacking people with a stun gun tying them up and holding them captive, I am sure it is all perfectly reasonable and above board”  I said rather sarcastically “OK where’s your brief ”

“In my wallet, I’m working under cover”

“Oh yeah right and I’m the Archbishop of Canterbury just popped in to do the wedding vows.  Fuck off shag, credit it me with some intelligence unless of course you’d really like some first aid on that arm of yours”  I think by the way he guarded it and looked at me that he didn’t trust my credentials in the medical department.  I found the warrant card and his driving licence and few other bits and bobs and he was indeed who he said he was.  “Now look here John, you are clearly embarking down the difficult road and I would strongly urge you to reconsider.  You see I want to know stuff quickly and sadly if you don’t tell me what I want to know, I will have to make you tell me.  That’s not a threat, just the way it is.  Come on John, I’m sure you’ve been in my position  thousands of times, somebody knows something wont say and you know they’re being a cunt and that their only life line is to talk and tell you you what you want to know.”

He glowered at me but said nothing.

“One last chance Johnny boy. How many years are you going to get for two counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment, Importation and possession of the stun gun, assault, GBH, ABH.  You’ll loose your job your pension and last but not least your ring piece once your inside.  I am sure this situation is not so far down the pan that we can’t salvage something for you.”

He knew it made sense and he sighed.

“We were all in the job together and were involved in an arrest which got a bit out of hand.  Its a long story but Barker (nodding at the real Dave Barker) whacked this violent prisoner and Dave felt it was over the top.  The blokes complaint died a death and he got convicted at court and went inside, but it left a bad taste.  Not long after Barker left the job under a bit of a cloud and Dave resigned and went into business with his dad”

“Why did he resign?” I said pointing at Minton/fake Barker

“He’s my mate, but to be honest he just couldn’t hack it”

“OK, so that’s the history, but tell me why is Barker and some woman tied up in this room?”

“Dave is rich now, very rich he went into business with his dad then branched out into other stuff and made a fortune.  He was with Pam (nodding at the woman) for years, they lived together and she has two kids by him.  They split up recently and as far as I know and there was some row over maintenance and she got a private detective who turned out to be our old mate Barker.  He (the real Barker) was bitter and twisted about the grief Dave had caused all those years ago and when he found out how rich he was he thought he would profit.  Truth is that Dave is embarrassed by Pam because she let her self go”  He stopped to cough up some blood.  “I don’t think JJ knows about the kids or Pam , but you should be asking him not me.”

“Fair point, but how did you get roped in to all this”

“Dave said he had arranged for Barker to come here an had agreed a pay off.  I’m going to be his best man so I said I would witness the payment and if he got out of hand I would put the frighteners on him.”

“OK so what the fuck I have got to do with all this?”

“Well somewhere you got mentioned and Barker (The real one I presume) had your details and said he worked with you”

“Why did he say that then John?”

“Well we aerr had a little chat with him and he told us and we found a number written down.  He told us you were ex SAS and did private contract work.  I think Dave thought originally you might get rid of Barker for him but the it all sort of came on top.”

“Ok I get why there’s no love lost with Barker and why he might have warranted a bit of a talking to, but why is she tied up, you’ve lost me there”  I said

“I have to be honest” – This usually means people are lying “I don’t know what she is doing here.  She apparently turned up with Barker to have a meet with Dave and it got out of hand and he had to use the stun gun on them.  They were like this when I got here.”

It was all very confused and I had the nasty feeling that we would soon be missed by JJ so I needed to get my finger out and try to tidy this up.

Who to speak to next, Pam, Barker or Barker.

I decided to speak to Barker.