Headlines today, Monday 31st March 2014, include insight to the UK’s first ever annual report to Parliament by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor, a key finding from which is that, due to high profile and widely reported scandals, the reputation of the Police is “damaged but not broken”.
But I venture to suggest it’s not just the high profile cases of malpractice, wrongdoing and corruption, like the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation, the Hillsborough disaster and the Andrew Mitchell Plebgate scandal, which are having an adverse impact on our trust in the Police and corroding the British model of policing by consent.
My experience is that the police simply don’t help themselves…
For example, I wonder how balanced are “The Scales of Justice” in terms of my own limited dealings with the police…?
On one side of the scales, thankfully, I’ve had very little to do with the police and on the other side of the scales I like to think I’ve built up loads of “credit”. Credit in terms of working hard since leaving school; having always paid my taxes and national insurance; given back to society through being a Foster parent; maintaining a full clean driving licence for both car and motorbike; having passed an Advance Institute of Motoring “Defensive Driving” course; ensured that my vehicles are well maintained, taxed, MOT’d and insured… etc. etc. basically, built up credit by trying to do everything right by the law, just like the vast majority of other good citizens out there!
One would therefore hope and assume that “The Scales of Justice” are irrefutably tipped in my favour – right?
On a Petrol Station Forecourt recently, I was approached by one of three fully tooled-up Policemen in a Volvo pursuit vehicle. He gave me a £60.00 on the spot fine for the incorrect spacing of the letters on my vehicle registration plate despite the forecourt cameras being able to read the number plate without issue.
That certainly damaged my trust in the Police and eroded their reputation in my eyes.
Therein lies the dichotomy. If the instant decisions of the Police are so manifestly binary with no appreciation of the good stuff that’s gone before, then is it any wonder that people have little appreciation or respect for the good stuff they do either?
Headlines today, Friday 28th March 2014, include the landmark legislation in England and Wales that comes into force at midnight allowing gay couples to marry!
Clearly, some people are pro, some are anti, whilst others are undecided or don’t express a view either way. In general terms though, people who express a view, express a strong view.
What I find interesting reading some of the blogs, news reports, headlines and polls is that most opposition is based on convention and religion.
Whilst I personally don’t have religion in my life, I do witness on a daily basis the overwhelming adverse impact of mankind on our planet and conclude that global population growth is the single greatest challenge facing mankind going forward.
So, whilst I really don’t have a strong view either way on gay marriage, I do see that the current UK model of “meet, marry, have 1.9* kids” is simply broken.
Hopefully, therefore, loving gay couples will have fewer children of their own and Fostering and Adoption rates will rise.
“You can find the answer to anything using the Internet…”
Let me clarify, that’s actually what someone else recently suggested to me…
…so I loaded the most well-know search engine and typed in “how many people, in their final hour, wished they’d spent more time working?”
2,880,000 results were returned in just 0.86 seconds – impressive!
However, the top results were ALL either answering or signposting me towards slightly different questions.
Forgive me therefore for concluding that, either the initial assertion was incorrect, or ZERO people in their final hour wish they’d spent more time working… you decide.
Footprints in the sand have strong emotional connotations.
They represent the ephemeral nature of the human journey through life by not only indicating where we’ve come from but also by demonstrating how quickly and easily the visual evidence is washed away daily with each tide…
For me though, a stronger mental image of the human journey through life is that generated by time-lapse photography of cars at night.
The red tail-light trails not only highlight where we’ve been, but equally the white headlight trails show where we’re heading too.
Sometimes I wonder what our own personal red-trails would show if we all were able to plot them since birth? all the journeys we’ve made? the places we’ve visited? and of course how our own individual “redlines” have crossed from time to time with others’ resulting in shared memories.
This same analogy makes me wonder about our individual futures too and how interesting and exciting it might be to see into the future by being able to plot our individual white headlight trails too? where we’re heading? including occasions where and when paths will cross the “redlines” and “white-lines” of others?
On Friday 14th March 2014, I was reminded of this concept in very stark terms.
The day before, at around 3:30pm, I’d visited Conington Airfield for my 28-day currency-flight in an R22 Helicopter.
As I walked into the building, a guy came out and although we didn’t know each other we shared a “hello” in recognition, I guess, of our shared interest in flying.
Shortly after, as I went through my start-up procedures in the R22, I saw the same guy was standing along with two or three others next to a large and very impressive 12-seater Augusta Westland Helicopter which was being refueled.
I lifted to start a single circuit of the Airfiled which would only take around five minutes and during the short flight, I heard the Augusta Westland Pilot open up communication with the Tower. Indeed, as I landed just a couple of minutes later, its rotors were spinning and the Pilot was given the go ahead to depart.
That was the first time I had seen the magnificent machine and heard the voice of the pilot… and sadly it was to be the last too.
Just three hours later, for reasons which are unlikely to be known for another 12 months, the Agusta Westland AW139 Helicopter crashed near Lord Ballyedmond’s stately home in Gillingham, near Beccles.
If only we’d known… if only I could have seen into the future and somehow prevented the dreadful outcome… if only.
Every year, the national trade association for renewable energy, RenewableUK (formerly the British Wind Energy Association), hosts an annual conference for its members and this generally moves each year between the four Nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In 2004, at the beginning of September, Manchester played host to the 26th such Annual Conference including, as always, a Gala Awards Dinner scheduled for the middle evening of conference, hosted on this particular occasion at Old Trafford, the home of all things Manchester United.
Back then, onshore wind energy development was being stifled by the NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) and the BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone), the latter being generally attributed to Thatcher’s former press Secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham. As a result, the wind industry was stepping offshore in order to mitigate some of the visual impact issues championed by such lobby groups and Government support was being offered through the award of small Capital Grants of up to £10m per project for early 30-turbine pilot scale offshore wind farms.
During the evening Gala Dinner, attendees were invited in small groups to take a short guided tour of Old Trafford, including the trophy room; the changing room where the [in]famous incident is alleged to have occurred when Sir Alex threw a football boot which hit Beckham; and finally, a walk out onto the terraces. Each tour was conducted by a sage old local guide, hugely knowledgeable about the club and full of hilarious anecdotes about its history.
As our particular group completed our tour, we emerging out on to the terrace where we were not only offered the hugely impressive view of the 75,000-seater stadium, but we were also invited to ask any final questions… here is mine:
“Clearly we’re here this evening as part of our annual wind energy conference at a time when we’re fighting hard to secure capital grants of up to £10m to construct offshore wind farms and move the UK toward energy security from low carbon sources… may I ask, roughly how much is Nike paying the club in sponsorship to get its brand shown throughout the Stadium…?”
Our tour guide didn’t hesitate: “of course Sir, it’s a three hundred and thirty million pound deal over ten years, so about thirty three million year on year…”
I paused for a moment while most of our tour group gasped in amazement, then gulped and thanked him not only for his response, but also for his entertaining and humorous insight during the tour…