IT'S not easy to nod when your first instinct is to shake your head. Try it, say “no” out loud and nod your head at the same time without thinking about it.
See? I told you. It’s pretty hard.
It’s the same when your first instinct is to push and you are supposed to pull. Not too bad when you are opening a door, but a bit more of an issue when you are on a roof with someone running towards the edge and trying to jump off.
I wondered the other day, when I watched the coppers on the roof of a building in Soho playing tick with a squatter, if it just, for a second, occurred to even one of them to just let him jump when he ran to the edge of the roof?
I’ll wager it didn’t, I’ll wager years of professionalism stepped in the way of the evil idea and the bobby didn’t give a second's thought to what might happen if he jumped. Sure he was fastened on with ropes, sure he had his climbing helmet on (although I’m not too sure what good a little white helmet is going to do for you when you hit the floor and one hundred miles an hour but I’m no helmet/gravity expert), sure he had a job to do to protect the public.
But he’s human too, he’s human enough to not want to die, he doesn’t want to be a martyr, he doesn’t want his name on a memorial. He just wants to go home at the end of his shift.
Years ago, back when I was a copper, I was working in Southport, tasked with keeping hunt protesters away from a bunch of hare-coursers. This was in the dying days of hunting with dogs for “sport” and the protesters smelt blood as they chased down the last few die-hard hunters.
It was a case of wellies and Doc Martens at dawn and in the middle stood my size tens, along with a bunch of other colleagues who were dragged in on their days off to be a thin blue line.
Now I’ll lay my cards on the table, I’m an animal lover, I catch spiders in glasses and shepherd them out of the house and into bushes all the time. The other week my girlfriend shouted from the car,
“What’s taking you so long?” and I replied,
“I’m just putting some snails on the grass!” I shouted back.
It’s okay… she’s used to it.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m closer to the crusty than to the upper crust.
The night I was standing outside a posh hotel in Southport as a 200-strong anti-hunt rally shouted and pushed against us, about 15 coppers who hadn’t had their tea, I could feel my sympathies wavering. They were wavering to the extent that if Bugs Bunny had chosen that moment to walk I probably would have punched him the face myself.
“You’re an arm of the state!” Someone shouted at me just before spitting in my face.
I know this because I still have the statement I wrote on that night, I didn’t write down my reply, I thought it best not to, but suffice to say, my sympathies with the anti-hunt crowd were wavering.
You see, I think that’s the problem with protesters. They don’t understand that if they were a bit nicer they’d get a bit of support.
Had that protester that night in Southport apologised for being shoved up against me I probably would have smiled and said “Not to worry, I understand, I like bunny rabbits too.” And I almost would definitely not needed to deploy a headlock.
But it isn’t the police they need to win over, it’s the public.
A lot of this anti capitalism stuff makes sense, big business isn’t playing fair. If people could hear that message delivered in a manner that was a little more civilised, maybe from someone who paid rent and had a job, they might listen. Instead half of the country sees a posh kid having a few years out after university wearing a bike jacket and shouting “Down with things!” with a traffic cone on their heads.
And unless you are student, the sight of someone wearing a traffic cone is only ever going to rub you up the wrong way.
I see the poor kid on the roof the other day has been detained under the Mental Health Act, I feel for him and I hope, if he is ill, that he gets better soon.
But as much as I do so, I still feel more sorry for the copper who grabbed him, and I will wager I am not the only one who feels this way.
Until protesters realise that, they are never going to win the country over.