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Rear View Mirror: The Headlock

Tony Schumacher feels more sorry for the coppers in this week's G8 drama

Written by . Published on June 14th 2013.

Rear View Mirror: The Headlock

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.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mickeydrippin'June 14th 2013.

Well said Tony!

SaladDazeJune 14th 2013.

As the man says, "G4S'll have yer jobs!" ianbone.wordpress.com/…/…

Robert KingJune 14th 2013.

"...maybe from someone who paid rent and had a job..." I see. That's millions of unemployed and working poor on housing benefit whose opinions on anything can immediately be discounted then. Your amiable, man of the people mask just slipped a bit there, Tony.

Anthony SchumacherJune 15th 2013.

Not really, if you include the entire sentence in your quote you'll see I say "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." I say "people" not "I". This isn't about my opinion because it's not an opinion piece. It's an essay about how organisations and movements can appeal to a greater demographic and get their message across in different ways. And incidentally, I don't have a mask either, if you read what I've written over the years, seen my twitter account or heard me on the radio, you'd see I'm no leftist or for that matter right winger. I try, best as i can, to see all sides of an argument and write or speak as honestly as I can about it.

Robert KingJune 16th 2013.

Mea culpa. Thank you for expanding the quote to explain that it's 'people' and not yourself who think that any opinion is given extra weight according to employment status. Glad that's all cleared up.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Anthony SchumacherJune 16th 2013.

Again, it isn't an opinion piece, it's an essay asking questions. Maybe I've not explained that clearly enough. I'm asking, would, for instance, the masses who read the Daily Mail, be less dismissive of a message if it was conveyed in a different manner. You seem to think I'm saying if you are unemployed or homeless you don't deserve a voice, and I for the life of me cannot think how you have leapt to that conclusion.

John BradleyJune 16th 2013.

One of the great failings of UK education is that it does not value comprehension, most people will just pick out a few key words. They could probably tell you if the grammar is correct but are no good at semantics.

AnonymousJune 16th 2013.

Many opposed to the expanding hegemony of a corporate plutocracy have tried talking calmly about the corruption, endemic exploitation & growing wealth inequality. They were ignored by the media and, as a result, by the population in general, as the doyens of multinational corporate-capitalism chuckled to themselves and [metaphorically] went back to counting their mountains of gold. Only when groups began taking direct action did the media begin to give any coverage. Then again, the media's agenda as mouthpieces for the multinational corporate-capitalism model led to their persistent campaign of propaganda against those who actively oppose this economic enslavement of the masses. Their favourite modus operandi appears to be to dismiss protesters along the lines of 'posh kids having a few years out after university wearing bike jackets and shouting “Down with things!” with a traffic cone on their heads'. Oh, and for the record, I'm 41, employed, never been a student, have a wife & kids, and own my own house. Does this allow me to have an opinion?

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 16th 2013.

Many? Until you can quantify many you talking purely for yourself.

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

I think Mr Schumacher is simply trying to make a valid point about the way we are prone to being conditioned and how that conditioning alters perceptions. For example, when Mr Blair used to take off his jacket, to tell us all about how lucky we were to have him, I started to think he was a self serving liar but when he put it back on to make the case for invading Iraq some people believed him. They were fooled by his nice suit. Similarly when Mr Haig put his bomber jacket on and wore his baseball cap backwards, people thought he was an idiot and didn't believe he drank 38 pints a night. Since he went back to a proper suit, and abandoned baseball caps, tight fitting white tops and shared rooms, he now commands respect and we believe all his nonsense. One only has to think of Constable Turnbull in Sykes. When Deryk Guyler had to take a serious position with Hattie and Eric, he would always remind them that his helmet was on. We may not like it, but that's how it often is. If Swampy had washed his neck, the by-pass may never have been built.

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