Saturday, January 30, 2010

Everyone Makes Mistakes!

Just had an email from Paul Thornley who will be doing the audio version of Nightfall for Isis Publishing. He is trying to get a feel for the accent that Nightingale should have. He points out that in the book Nightingale was born and brought up in Manchester but that his parents are buried in a graveyard in east London so was asking when the family had moved south.

Whoops! What happened is that in the book originally the Nightingales lived in London and Nightingale and his father supported Arsenal. During the rewriting I moved them to Manchester, mainly so that Nightingale had a reason for losing touch with his aunt and uncle. I switched the football team but left the parents buried in London, and really there is no way to explain that, especially with the vicar telling Nightingale that they had been regular churchgoers and he knew them well. As the last memory he has of them is them standing at the house in Manchester waving him off to university, so obviously they must still have been living there.

It is an error but I think it is an easy fix. It’s on P122. At the moment we have:

Nightingale hadn’t lied when he’d told Jenny McLean that he wasn’t going to drive. And he’d meant what he’d said about wanting some fresh air, even though the first thing he’d done after he’d left the wine bar was to light a cigarette. Neither had he been lying when he’d told the girl in the shop doorway that he didn’t know where he was going. So far as he was concerned, he was doing just as he’d said he would: taking a walk while he collected his thoughts. But his subconscious had other plans for him. It took him to his car and thirty minutes later he was driving through east London and ten minutes after that he was parking outside the graveyard where his parents were buried, lighting another cigarette and wondering why he had never visited their graves since the day of the funeral.

I think all we have to change is a couple of words:

Nightingale hadn’t lied when he’d told Jenny McLean that he wasn’t going to drive. And he’d meant what he’d said about wanting some fresh air, even though the first thing he’d done after he’d left the wine bar was to light a cigarette. Neither had he been lying when he’d told the girl in the shop doorway that he didn’t know where he was going. So far as he was concerned, he was doing just as he’d said he would: taking a walk while he collected his thoughts. But his subconscious had other plans for him. It took him to his car and three hours later he was driving through Manchester and ten minutes after that he was parking outside the graveyard where his parents were buried, lighting another cigarette and wondering why he had never visited their graves since the day of the funeral.

The only stretch is that he’s driven for three hours on auto-pilot but I think we can buy that as he has a lot to think about! Better to fix it that way than to try to explain why they are buried in London when they lived in Manchester!

It just goes to show that everyone makes mistakes! And a big thank you to Paul for pointing that one out – the book had gone through five or six edits without anyone else spotting it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Newspaper Review Of Nightfall

The first newspaper review of Nightfall is out - in The Lancashire Evening Post. It's by Pam Norfolk, and she liked it! Whew!! I was interviewed for a job on the Lancashire Evening Post more than thirty years ago - it's a great local paper and it would have been fun working for them, but I ended up going on the Mirror Group Training Scheme instead...

Anyway, here's the review -

By Pam Norfolk

Taut, tense, teasing ... and terrific!

The first book of Stephen Leather's brilliant new thriller series is so dark that you won't want to put out the light...

The secret of Nightfall's success lies in its psychology ... who can you trust in the murky world of private eye Jack Nightingale?

Because in the twilight zone there are good people, bad people and some who might just be downright evil.

Jack was a highly respected negotiator with the Met's armed response unit and his speciality was persuading people not to commit suicide.

But when he was called to the 13th floor of a luxury tower block, he discovered a nine-year-old girl, with tell-tale bruises, on the verge of jumping from her parents' balcony.

Jack failed to talk her down and to his horror, Sophie Underwood deliberately slipped off the wall and plunged to her death still clutching her doll.

And when he confronted her father at his high-rise office shortly afterwards, Simon Underwood also fell from the window to his death ... did he jump or was he pushed?

Only Jack knows what happened and he still won't speak of it ... but it cost him his job.

Two years later Jack is haunted by a dream in which Underwood tells him: 'You're going to hell Jack Nightingale.'

And even more alarming for Jack is that the most unexpected people are telling him the same thing, including a man who has recently died and reveals in his will that Jack is his biological son and the sole heir to a substantial mansion house in Surrey.

Ainsley Gosling was a man steeped in Satanism and black magic, and a DVD found in his house claims Jack's soul was sold years ago and that on his 33rd birthday a demon from hell will claim it.

A strict non-believer in either heaven or hell, straight-talking Jack is convinced this is all an elaborate hoax but when people close to him start to die and the truth about his father's dealings is uncovered, it seems the prophecy could be more than just a sick joke.

And as Jack's birthday is only three weeks away, discovering the truth will be a race against time...

Nightfall is a wonderfully atmospheric tale of suspense and intrigue infused with edgy humour and a slow-moving but perfectly paced sense of menace.

Devilishly good...

(Hodder & Stoughton, hardback, £19.99)

More Money For Nothing

Just got this - addressed personally, which is nice! Sadly I am flat out on the new Nightingale book or I'd play him along for a while. Just about 61,000 words and I'm supposed to have it done by the end of the month.

Dear Stephen,
How are you today? I hope all is well with you.I am happy to inform you about my success in getting those funds transferred under the cooperation of a new partner from Venezuela.Presently I am in Venezuela for investment projects with my own share of the total sum.Meanwhile,I did not forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in transferring those funds despite that it failed us some how.

Now you have to contact our WESTERN UNION AGENT IN BURKINA FASO through this Email: ,or through the alternative Email: the person in charge is Mrs Angela Sawadogo
Tel: +226-50320661

Ask her to send you the total sum of US$100,000.00 which I deposited in our Western union department account for your compensation for all the past efforts and attempts to assist me in this matter.I appreciated your efforts at that time very much.So please feel free and get in touched with her and instruct her where to send the amount to you.

Please do let me know immediately you receive the fund so that we can share the joy together after all the sufferings at that time.I am very busy here in Venezuela because of the investment projects which I and my new partner are having at hand.Finally,feel free to get in touch with the Western Union Agent Mrs Angela Sawadogo,she will send the amount to you without any delay.

Mr Benard Sankara.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Government's DNA Database

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of the Government's DNA database, though it does play a pivotal role in the Nightingale book that I'm writing! I don't like the way that the police are putting almost everyone they come into contact with into the database, often for the slightest of offences. But the following story in today's papers shows how successful it can be in solving crimes - in this case they caught a rapist-murderer because his son's DNA was in the database. That is quite something, especially as the son wasn't even when born when the father committed the crime.

A married father of four was jailed for life for the murder of a teenage girl more than 26 years ago.

Paul Hutchinson, 51, was told he would serve a minimum term of 25 years for the murder of trainee hairdresser Colette Aram in October 1983.

Colette, 16, was walking to her boyfriend's house in the Nottinghamshire village of Keyworth when she was abducted by Hutchinson.

The former electrician-turned businessman bundled the teenager into the back of a stolen car and beat her about the head with a bottle before raping her. He then strangled Colette with his bare hands before arranging her body in a nearby field in a sexually-provocative pose.

The case was the first feature of the first episode of the BBC's Crimewatch in June 1984 but Hutchinson was only caught last year after evidence taken from near the murder scene was used to form his full DNA profile. It was then run against the Government's database and was found to match his son's, who had been detained for a traffic offence.

Hutchinson, a psychology graduate who had also been a youth worker, was jailed at Nottingham Crown Court. Hutchinson, of Stockgill Close, West Bridgford, Nottingham, admitted murdering Colette at a court hearing last month.

Mr Justice Flaux described Colette's murder as a "truly horrendous attack".

He said: "The terror and degradation that this poor girl must have suffered at the hands of a stranger in her last few moments are unimaginable. It's clear from the evidence before the court that you (Hutchinson) are a compulsive liar and fantasist. You have lived your life with your wife and children who were completely ignorant of who you were."

Colette's mother Jacqui Kirkby, 63, spoke after sentencing and said she would like to "poke the eyes out" of her daughter's killer.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Complaining To Eurostar

I didn't get any work done yesterday as I was writing my latest letter of complaint - this time to Eurostar! That's my spate of complaining over with, now it's head down on the new Jack Nightingale novel!

Marc Noaro,
Customer Services Director,
Times House,
Bravingtons Walk,
Regent Quarter,
London N1 9AW.

Dear Marc,

I am in receipt of your email dated December 31 last year in which you say that you wanted to write to me personally to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the disruption to Eurostar services before Christmas. The fact that you address the email to ‘Dear Traveller’ and sent it in three languages does however suggest that it wasn’t a personal communication but was in fact a mail shot.

Do you see how I have addressed this letter to you? That’s personal Marc, and it’s not difficult.

You also rub salt into the wound by referring to me as ‘Dear Traveller’ because as you well know I didn’t do any travelling because Eurostar cancelled the trains that I was supposed to travel on. Your email refers to me being booked to travel on 23 or 24 December but my outbound tickets were actually for Saturday December 19. In short, you were not writing to me personally as you claim, you were doing what Eurostar has consistently done throughout this sorry saga which is to treat me and thousands of customers with contempt.

Let me explain to you why I am so annoyed with your company and why I think the offer of ‘compensation’ outlined in your email is so derisory.

I was booked to travel with my family in Leisure Select on the 12.29pm train on December 19. As you are no doubt aware, Eurostar’s problems began on December 18 when snow crippled your trains on the French side.

First thing on Saturday morning I logged on to the Eurostar website and it informed me that the morning trains had been cancelled but that trains after midday would be running. I called the main Eurostar number several times, but each time it went through a recorded message informed me that my enquiry could not be dealt with and suggested that I call back later. I checked the television but there was no information on what was happening to Eurostar trains that day, and after checking the website for the last time at just after 10.30am and reading that the afternoon trains would be running, I had no choice other than to go to St Pancras station.

On arriving at St Pancras, I discovered thousands of passengers none of whom had any idea what was happening. There was no written information and the only members of Eurostar I could see were Security and the ones I spoke to told me that they didn’t know what was going on. After ten minutes of searching I managed to find a French Eurostar employee who was entertaining a group of French passengers but he seemed to have no interest in conversing with me in English.

Eventually I did manage to find someone to talk to and he told me that there would be no trains that day. I returned home with my family, but as you know thousands of other customers didn’t – they waited in the station for hours and hours before Eurostar eventually confirmed that there would be no trains running. There was a serious failure in communications and a complete lack of customer service. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. I cancelled my hotel in Paris. Because I had to cancel so late, Expedia withheld $240 from my refund.

It wasn’t until December 22 that I received any communication from Eurostar and that was a ‘Dear Traveller’ email from Nick Mercer, Commercial Director. That was three days after my train was cancelled. I think it is outrageous that it took your company three whole days to contact customers whose lives had been thrown into turmoil. In Nick’s email he referred customers to the Eurostar website if they wanted a refund, and my recollection is that the website said that it would take up to twelve weeks before the refunds would be processed. That was clearly unacceptable so I contacted American Express and arranged to have them recredit my account.

I want to emphasise that it wasn’t the technical problems with the train that I am annoyed at. I understand that the weather conditions were very unusual and that the problem was mainly on the French side. But what is unforgivable is the way that you did not contact passengers directly, did not update your website and refused to answer the phones on December 19. That was a management decision and whoever was responsible needs to be held accountable.

If I had been running Eurostar on December 19, I would have been on the phone to every manager in the company and I would have told them to report to St Pancras wearing a Eurostar jacket. I would have told them to stop off at a supermarket on the way and fill up their cars with soft drinks and sandwiches, and I would have told them to speak to each and every passenger at the station handing out refreshments and making sure that your customers knew what was happening. I would have made sure that every available member of staff was manning the phones and talking to passengers. If there was no information to give them, I would have taken phone numbers and promised to call them back once information was available. The key to handling a crisis such as the one you faced on December 19-20 is communication. You did nothing which is tantamount to treating your customers with contempt. Shame on you.

So, what is that I want from you? I’m not interested in an apology and I made American Express refund the cost of my three tickets to my card earlier this year.

I am still out of pocket, however. I need you to reimburse me the £30 that I spent on taxis to and from St Pancras. And I need you to refund me the $240 that I lost through the hotel booking. I enclose receipts for the taxi fares and a copy of the email from Expedia confirming the hotel cancellation penalty. But even if you do that, it still only takes me back to break even and doesn’t even come close to making up for all the stress and inconvenience that your company caused me.

As a direct result of Eurostar management incompetence, my family and I had to make our way to St Pancras with all our luggage. So as far as I am concerned, we started our journey and are therefore entitled to the same compensation that you are offering to passengers who were on the delayed trains – namely three complementary tickets in the class that I booked. So far as I am concerned, that is the least you should do. You let all of us down in December, and offering complementary tickets to passengers such as myself would go some way to making up for your dismal performance.

I look forward to your reply – hopefully a personal one this time.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Leather

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Nightfall Cover

Hodder are redesigning the cover of Nighfall for the mass market paperback, which will be out in the summer. This is an early draft but I think it looks brilliant!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Complaining To American Express

Tommorrow is the publication day of Nightfall. I've got a dinner tonight with the Hodder team so hopefully I'll fnd out then if it's selling or not!

I'm at just below 60,000 words on the new Jack Nightingale book, I keep getting waylaid with complaint letters that I have to write. I'm thinking of putting a book together containing my best examples. Here's what I was working on yesterday!

Julia Charman,
Manager of UK Cardmember Services,
American Express Services Europe Ltd,
PO Box 68,
Amex House,
Edward Street,
Brighton BN88 1AH.

Dear Julia,

Thank you for your letter dated December 16 regarding the double-charging of £289.11 that occurred last year in connection with a car that I hired from Hertz.

You say that one of the benefits of being an American Express Cardmember is that when one wishes to question a purchase made to one’s card that you will work on one’s behalf to help resolve the matter with the merchant. I understand the principle and indeed when I worked as a Consumer Affairs journalist I would always advise readers to use a credit card such as American Express rather than a debit card to book plane tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars.

However, I have found in recent years that American Express has been taking the side of the merchant rather than the customer. I had a great deal of trouble getting American Express to refund the cost of Eurostar tickets earlier this year after Eurostar cancelled my trip because of the snow. At first American Express wouldn’t refund my money and it was only after I asked to speak to a supervisor that my money was given back and even then I was told that the matter could only be resolved if Eurostar agreed to refund my money.

In your letter you say that you have credited me with the £289.11 but you also warn me that ‘if at a later date, the merchant provides valid support, we may have to contact you again.’ It is the warning that annoys me. There is clearly an error, the money was clearly taken from my account twice, yet you make it sound as if there is still an issue with the money. Also, I spoke to Hertz immediately after I spotted the double-charging on my on-line statement. According to the Hertz representative I spoke to, they received only one payment of £289.11. Yes, American Express took the money from me twice, but only paid the money to Hertz once. If that’s the case then the error was clearly made by American Express. I need you to look into this for me and to find out exactly what happened with this transaction. At the moment, Hertz is telling me that the fault was not there’s and that American Express was to blame.

Recently I’ve been discussing the standards of service from American Express with three friends, who coincidentally between them have a regular card, a gold card and a platinum card. All agreed with me that standards have fallen in recent years. I have been an American Express cardholder for more than twenty-five years but recently I have begun to feel that you are more concerned about your merchants than you are about me. With that in mind I am now considering dropping my gold card and going back to the regular card. I need you to supply me with a list of benefits that I would lose if I go back to being a regular cardholder. I have a suspicion that I won’t be losing much, but I am prepared to be convinced otherwise.

The main issue I want to raise with you though concerns tickets I bought for the Miley Cyrus concert in Manchester on December 28 last year. I bought the tickets on line through Ticketmaster on June 11 last year. The tickets were specially for American Express cardholders and went on sale 48 hours before they were offered to the general public. I was under the impression that the seats were specially reserved for American Express cardholders.

I asked for the best available tickets and was offered seats in Section BL G, Row P, Seats 5-6. I paid for them with my American Express card and gave the tickets to my ten-year-old daughter as her Christmas present. She was obviously thrilled and excited but all that evaporated on December 28 when we arrived at the MEN Arena. Our seats were in the furthest block from the stage, right at the back of the arena, close to where the lighting and sound technicians were based. We were in Row P which means that there were only ten other rows behind us. As soon as the band came on stage everyone stood up and my daughter was unable to see anything. She wasn’t even able to see the large screens on the stage as absolutely everyone was standing up. She tried to stand on her chair but security officials kept telling her to get down as standing on the chairs was a health and safety issue.

I have been going to concerts for over thirty years and I can confidently say that they were the worst seats I have ever had. Even I had difficulty seeing the stage and I’m a fairly tall adult. My daughter could see nothing and the concert was a huge disappointment.

I need you to find out who decided that my seats were suitable to be offered to American Express cardholders. Was it the MEN Arena, Ticketmaster, or someone at American Express? Whoever made the decision needs to be told that they made a major blunder in offering such awful seats to cardholders. I couldn’t have done any worse if I had gone online two days later and bought them along with the general public.

I trusted American Express to supply me with good seats and you didn’t – you gave me pretty much the worst seats in the arena. At least if I had been high up at the top of the stadium my daughter would have been able to see something of the stage. Frankly, I think you should do the decent thing and refund my money.

I appreciate that this is a long letter, so I will summarise what I am expecting from you:

1) Confirmation that the double-charging of £289.11 through Hertz was an American Express fault and not an error on the part of Hertz.

2) A list of benefits for Gold cardholders that are not available to holders of the regular American Express card.

3) Confirmation that you will be refunding the cost of the Miley Cyrus tickets, along with an explanation of why such bad seats were offered to American Express cardholders.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Leather

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Amazon Review

A second review has gone up on for Nightfall - and it got five stars! Made my day.

Excellent thriller, by one of the best Authors around., 19 Jan 2010
By Red

A different plot, but a very haunting storyline. It could have been written by one of the great horror/ thrillers writers of the last twenty years, King, or James Herbert crossed my mind as I was reading it. I`ve always enjoyed Leather`s writing, and if you are already a fan, then you will love this. If it is your first outing with this author, and you enjoy it, then try the Dan Sheppard series, they are excellent thrillers. Keep the light on when you read this !!!!

Complaining To Hertz

I didn't get much work done yesterday - I was writing a letter of complaint to Hertz! Took me ages. Now I've got to complain to Eurostar and American Express. I don't know if they'll do any good but it always makes me feel better!

Customer Relations,
Hertz UK,
Hertz House,
11 Vine Street,
Middlesex UB8 1QE

Dear Sir,

Confirmation Number: E5893473877
Pick up date: December 28, 2009

I am writing to complain in the strongest possible terms about my most recent Hertz rental.

I booked a car on line, and paid for it in advance with my American Express card. I booked a VW Passat from your Green Collection.

When I arrived at the Hertz Marble Arch location at about 9.30am on Monday December 28, a member of your staff (I later found out that his name was Asdi) was berating a customer. The customer was foreign, I think from Scandinavia, and was a Hertz Gold Card Member. Your member of staff was treating the customer with total contempt. I’m not sure what the problem was – the man’s car wasn’t ready and there was some confusion about using a discount voucher. I was appalled at the way Asdi was talking to the customer. The customer was polite and dignified and asked to speak to a manager. At first Asdi refused to contact a manager, then he said that the manager was busy. The customer continued to politely ask for a manager and eventually Asdi agreed to phone the manager. After a brief conversation, Asdi pointed at the door and said to the customer ‘your vehicle is ready.’ There was no apology, no politeness, just sheer contempt.

After the customer went to collect his car, Asdi picked up the phone and called his manager again. ‘That customer had a really bad attitude,’ he said, in front of me and three other customers. I hope that’s not how you treat all your Gold Card Members.

I was next in line. Asdi asked me if I had made a reservation. There was no greeting, no smile, no please or thank you. Just ‘Do you have a reservation?’

I said that I had. He then held out his hand and said ‘Driving licence and credit card.’ Again, there was no please or thank you. He was behaving more like an immigration officer than someone working in a customer service business.

Once he had checked my reservation, he told me that he did not have a VW Passat, but that he would upgrade me to a bigger car. There was no apology or explanation as to why the car that I had already paid for was not available. I asked him what car he was giving me and he said it would be a Kia Soul.

I asked him why he thought that the Kia Soul was a bigger car than the VW Passat and he said it had a bigger boot. (He actually kept calling it a booth but that is by the way). I asked him if the Kia Soul’s engine was bigger than the VW Passat and he admitted that it wasn’t. I pointed out to him that when people talk about the size of a car they are more often than not referring to the size of the engine and not the boot.

He agreed with me but said that it was the only car he had. It was that or nothing, he said. I explained that I was planning to drive a long distance with my family and that the Kia Soul would not be suitable and he again said that it was the only car available. Eventually I had to agree to take the car. I argued that I should be entitled to a substantial discount but all he would offer was to allow me to return the car with the tank empty. I said I was not happy with that, but there was nothing I could do other than to take the car offered, but under protest.

I had booked the Passat because I was driving my wife and daughter to Manchester, then up to Northumberland, and then back to London. The Kia Soul was totally unsuitable for this. The driving position was terrible, the car is clearly designed for small Korean housewives and not six-foot tall Englishmen. I ended up with back and shoulder pains after the four days I spent driving it. I could not see any of the dashboard instruments without slumping in the seat and lowering my neck, so that for most of the journey I was unable to see what my speed was. Despite your representative’s claims, there was very little space for luggage. I won’t bother mentioning that the charger that I was given with the Sat Nav system didn’t work and had to be replaced. Or that the car was dirty inside and out.

The car did not handle well at speed and visibility, particularly with the off-side mirror, was bad. What made matters worse of course was that during the rental period the UK was hit by snow and driving conditions were terrible, especially up north. The Kia Soul was totally unsuitable for the snowy and icy conditions that I was driving in. I have to say that you were lucky that I wasn’t involved in an accident because I would have held your company responsible for giving me a car that was totally unsuitable.

It was not the car I paid for and it was in no way an improvement. I can confidently say that it is the worst car I have ever driven, with the possible exception of a fifteen-year-old Suzuki Jeep that I rented in Phuket many years ago.

When I returned the car to your Marble Arch location I asked a member of staff why they thought that the Soul was an upgrade from a VW Passat. He agreed that the Soul wasn’t a better car but that it was in Hertz’s Fun Collection.

I have to say that driving the Soul was not a fun experience. It was totally unsuitable for my needs and was on occasions dangerous. It does not handle well at speed or in the snowy and icy conditions we had in late December and January. What makes this inexcusable is that not only had I reserved the car, I had paid for it in advance. You took my money but you then failed to deliver what I had paid for. That is tantamount to fraud and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

The last time I had a bad experience with Hertz (I was given a car in Manchester with a leaking tyre valve) the manager who handled my complaint asked me what it would take to make me happy. It was a good question, and we agreed that she would knock the cost of one day off a three-day rental.

If you were to ask me the same question regarding my treatment by your staff and the fact that you gave me a totally unsuitable car, I would have to say that there is only one way to make me happy and that would be to refund all my money. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t see that I’ll ever be using your Marble Arch location again.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Leather

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lousy Review

Nightfall goes on sale later this week and is already doing well on It was in the Top 100 but it varies from day to day.

I've got my first review on Amazon and it's terrible. One star! One lousy star! Here's the review...

complete change of style, 18 Jan 2010
By E. Marshall

having been an avid stephen leather fan for years i struggled with this book. he seems to have changed his style of writing and sadly i found it hard work totally lacking his usual gripping story sad.

I'm not sure why E Marshall can't use capital letters. This is his only review and I can't work out why such an avid fan as he describes himself hasn't posted reviews of the books that he liked!

All a bit worrying, really!

But it is fair to say that Nightfall is very different from my regular thrillers so I hope there aren't too many E Marshalls around!

I'm well into the Nightingale book as we speak and hope to have the first draft finished in a few weeks.... I had a meeting with my agent Julian Alexander last week and he has suggested major changes that will much improve the storyline. I think it's going to be a cracker - though i doubt that E Marshall will be impressed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sledging Policemen

Saw the following story on line today....

Police rapped after shield sledge stunt

A passer-by filmed the moment Thames Valley Police officers arrived at the slope in Berkeley Road, Boars Hill, Oxford, in a riot van.

One is then seen clambering on to the shield, and is advised by a colleague: "You've got to hold on to the straps." Another officer appears to be filming the incident on his mobile phone as the policeman is pushed down the slope, to a shout of: "Whatever happens, keep smiling!"

He then travels down the hill towards a ditch, to the obvious amusement of his three colleagues watching.

Superintendent Andrew Murray, Oxford City commander with Thames Valley Police, said: "The snow has a habit of bringing out the child in all of us.

"I have spoken to the officers concerned and reminded them in no uncertain terms that tobogganing on duty, on police equipment and at taxpayers' expense is a very bad idea should they wish to progress under my command."

Rick Latham, who filmed the 41-second clip before posting it on YouTube website, said he initially thought police were going to tell him off when they caught him attempting to slide down the slope in a kayak.

He said: "We thought they were going to give us a hard time. Then they asked how slippy the snow was, and one of them grabbed the shield, then another one went down on it as well. I asked if I could film it and they said that was fine. They said something like: 'We're only human'."

Isn't Superintendent Murray a spoilsport? Fair play to the boys in blue showing their human side. Incidentally it's now a criminal offence to take a photograph of a policeman so Rick Latham might be expecting a knock on the door over the next few days!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stating The Obvious

A friend sent me this and I read it at Heathrow Airport on my way to Dublin. As always I have had to remove my laptop, take off my shoes and watch, and throw away my bottle of Evian water so I couldn't agree more with what Ann Coulter has written!

by Ann Coulter

In response to a Nigerian Muslim trying to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, the government will now prohibit international travelers from going to the bathroom in the last hour before the plane lands.

Terrorists who plan to bomb planes during the first seven hours of the eight-hour flight, however, should face no difficulties, provided they wait until after the complimentary beverage service has been concluded.

How do they know Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab didn't wait until the end of the flight to try to detonate explosives because he heard the stewardess announce that the food service was over and seats would have to be placed in their upright position? I can't finish my snack? This plane is going down!

Also prohibited in the last hour of international flights will be: blankets, pillows, computers and in-flight entertainment. Another triumph in Janet Napolitano's "Let's stay one step behind the terrorists" policy!

For the past eight years, approximately 2 million Americans a day have been subjected to humiliating searches at airport security checkpoints, forced to remove their shoes and jackets, to open their computers, and to remove all liquids from their carry-on bags, except minuscule amounts in marked 3-ounce containers placed in Ziploc plastic bags -- folding sandwich bags are verboten -- among other indignities.

This, allegedly, was the price we had to pay for safe airplanes. The one security precaution the government refused to consider was to require extra screening for passengers who looked like the last three-dozen terrorists to attack airplanes.

Since Muslims took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, every attack on a commercial airliner has been committed by foreign-born Muslim men with the same hair color, eye color and skin color. Half of them have been named Mohammed.

An alien from the planet "Not Politically Correct" would have surveyed the situation after 9/11 and said: "You are at war with an enemy without uniforms, without morals, without a country and without a leader -- but the one advantage you have is they all look alike. ... What? ... What did I say?"

The only advantage we have in a war with stateless terrorists was ruled out of order ab initio by political correctness.

And so, despite 5 trillion Americans opening laptops, surrendering lip gloss and drinking breast milk in airports day after day for the past eight years, the government still couldn't stop a Nigerian Muslim from nearly blowing up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.

The "warning signs" exhibited by this particular passenger included the following:

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

He's Nigerian.

He's a Muslim.

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

He boarded a plane in Lagos, Nigeria.

He paid nearly $3,000 in cash for his ticket.

He had no luggage.

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Two months ago, his father warned the U.S. that he was a radical Muslim and possibly dangerous.

If our security procedures can't stop this guy, can't we just dispense with those procedures altogether? What's the point exactly?

(To be fair, the father's warning might have been taken more seriously if he had not simultaneously asked for the U.S. Embassy's Social Security number and bank routing number in order to convey a $28 million inheritance that was trapped in a Nigerian bank account.)

The warning from Abdulmutallab's father put his son on some list, but not the "no fly" list.. Apparently, it's tougher to get on the "no fly" list than it was to get into Studio 54 in the '70s. Currently, the only people on the "no fly" list" are the Blind Sheik and Sean Penn.

The government is like the drunk looking for his keys under a lamppost. Someone stops to help, and asks, "Is this where you lost them?" No, the drunk answers, but the light's better here.

The government refuses to perform the only possibly effective security check -- search Muslims -- so instead it harasses infinitely compliant Americans. Will that help avert a terrorist attack? No, but the Americans don't complain.

The only reason Abdulmutallab didn't succeed in bringing down an airplane with 278 passengers was that: (1) A brave Dutchman leapt from his seat and extinguished the smoldering Nigerian; and (2) the Nigerian apparently didn't have enough detonating fluid to cause a powerful explosion.

In addition to the no blanket, no computer, no bathroom rule, perhaps the airlines could add this to their preflight announcement about seat belts and emergency exits: "Should a passenger sitting near you attempt to detonate an explosive device, you may be called upon to render emergency assistance. Would you be willing to do so under those circumstances? If not we will assign you another seat ..."

A Policeman's Lot

I just got the following from a policeman's a joke but actually gives you an insight into how policemen think!

You might be (or have been) a Copper if....

You have the bladder capacity of five people.

You have ever restrained someone and it was not a sexual experience.

You believe that 75% of people are a waste of space.

Your idea of a good time is an armed robbery at shift change.

You call for a name check on anyone who is remotely friendly to you.

Discussing dismemberment or a death over dinner seems perfectly normal to you.

You find humour in other people's stupidity.

You have your weekends, or time off planned for a year.

You believe the government should require a permit to reproduce.

You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says " God its Quiet today".

Whenever you phone someone, you ask them 'Are you free to speak?'

Your diet consists of food that has gone through more processing than a Computer can track.

You're the only sober person in the kebab house.

You believe chocolate is a food group. Having alcohol at 7 am seems perfectly normal.

You have ever wanted to hold a seminar called "Suicide, getting it right The first time".

You believe "Too stupid to live" should be a valid court outcome.

When you mention vegetables, you're not referring to a food group.

You think caffeine should be available in IV form.

Your prisoner states "I have no idea how I got here" - and neither have You.

You end normal conversations with loved ones with "over".

You walk down the street looking at people as potential criminal intelligence submissions or suspects.

You believe the carpet bombing of certain areas of your neighbourhood is a viable alternative to policing.

You believe that some crimes can be sorted out with a damn good kicking.

Your favourite hallucinogen is exhaustion.

You are the only person you know who ever uses the word 'obliged'.

Your partner tells you off for walking with your hands held together behind your back.

At least once every working day you use the phrase, "The job's f*****!"

You regularly say, "With all due respect, Sir" but mean nothing of the sort.

You have a nose finely tuned to the smells of cannabis decomposition and stale body odour.

You think Thursday is the best night to go into town for a drink with your mates.

You nodded and laughed at all of the above, and realised what a sick bunch We all are or were!