Tag Archives: killing

Killing slugs and Lewis Schaffer

A killer at work at midnight last night

A killer at relentless work after midnight last night

What do you do when you write a daily blog and have to get up at 7.30am and drive sharpish to Oxford for the day? Well, you grasp at straws and write a blog about slugs around midnight the previous night. This is that blog.

Long-running readers may retain nightmarish memories of my eternally-un-named friend’s obsession with killing slugs in the back garden, normally at dead of night when the surrounding neighbours are fast asleep and unable to witness the terrestrial gastropod mollusc carnage.

Slugs in the death cup

Slugs await their certain fate in the death cup

The unfortunate, slow-moving creatures usually get collected in their tens in a metal mug and are then put into a copper chamber pot where they meet their maker via a tsunami of boiling water.

My eternally-un-named friend was at it again last night.

“They are only slugs,” I told her.

“Worms go whoomph and they vanish,” she replied with, I thought, rather a lot of irrelevance.

“Slugs deserve to die,” she insisted. “Look at this plant. They’ve been eating this plant to smithereens. It’s been in hospital for weeks trying to recover. Look at it! They’re not even supposed to like eating this plant!”

“What’s it called?” I asked.

My eternally-un-named friend’s foot and the ’N’ plant

Eternally-un-named friend’s foot & ’N’ plant

“Nemesia or something,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “I can’t remember.”

“Amnesia?” I suggested.

“No, it starts with an N,” she insisted. “Can’t you blog about someone else? Just print the lyrics to that Noel Coward song you were listening to the other day. There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner. That’s interesting.”

“It may be in copyright,” I said, “and it’s not as good as the mass extermination of God’s creatures. You could end up at the International Court in the Hague for this.”

A slug makes a desperate, doomed bid to escape

A slug makes a desperate bid to out-run death

“Blog about something else,” pleaded my eternally-un-named friend. “What about that fantastic poster Lewis Schaffer sent you tonight of him kicking in the air?

“He looked like Robert De Niro in it. Phone him up. He won’t be in bed now. Have a bath. Think about it.”

“You’ve brought Lewis Schaffer into it now,” I said. “He will be very pleased… They’re trying to escape.”

“What?” asked my eternally-un-named friend.

Doomed slugs try to escape via circus act method

Doomed slugs try to escape via a circus act

“They’re trying to escape,” I repeated. I think they’re standing on each others shoulders – if slugs have shoulders – and trying to form a pyramid to escape up the side of the cup.”

This caused my eternally-un-named friend such trauma that she poured boiling hot water straight into the cup, bypassing the usual chamber pot method.

After photographing this slug carnage on my iPhone, I went back into the kitchen with her. I had left the outside door open. The ceiling round the light had about 30 flea-like creatures on it.

“Fleas!” I said.

“Flies not fleas,” my eternally-un-named friend told me. “Flies are OK.”

“Kill them all,” I heard myself say to her. “There’s a moth there on the lampshade, too. Kill the moth. Kill everything.”

It did not end well.

Nature is not to be encouraged.

This is what comes of opening windows and doors in the heat.

There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner is on YouTube.

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Filed under Humor, Humour, Nature

Why I had to eat half a grapefruit for my birthday breakfast today & for the slugs

The British Olympic team parade in their gay Abba costumes

I was slightly unsettled last night by the sight of the British team at the Olympic Opening Ceremony walking round the track wearing what appeared to be gay Abba tribute costumes. Now I have to face dead slugs. Only time can tell which will leave the greater psychological scar.

I blogged last month about my eternally-un-named friend’s triumph in building a better mouse trap and drowning one of the diminutive rodents overnight in my living room.

Now she has turned her attention to species cleansing my garden.

Planks and an unexplained copper chamber pot in my garden

She likes plants, which means she dislikes slugs, which is why there were three short wooden planks lying in my garden yesterday morning. And an unexplained chamber pot.

“They crawl around all night, doing their heinous things,” my eternally-un-named friend told me yesterday morning. “The slugs. Eating your plants and then, before dawn starts, they need somewhere to hide.”

“Like vampires?” I asked.

“Yes,” she agreed, laughing in an unsettling way. “Like vampires and Daleks,” she said. “They need somewhere to hide that’s damp and away from the sun, because they dry out. The slugs. The whole thing about them is they go round on their slime everywhere and they don’t like to dry out. That’s why they do their eating at night.”

“I know you put the planks down,” I said, “so the slugs will hide under them and you will find them in the morning. But there is a chamber pot involved. I didn’t know I had a chamber pot.”

Oddly orange and very dead slug barely visible in chamber pot

“The chamber pot,” she explained, “just happens to be the only thing I can use to put the salted water in. And it has a dash of washing up liquid. I don’t want to use saucepans and plates – obviously.”

“But I didn’t know I had a chamber pot,” I said. “The first I knew of it was ten minutes ago. I know I have a bad memory, but… And it’s metal!”

“I got it on eBay,” my eternally-un-named friend explained.

“But why a metal chamber pot?” I asked.

“It’s copper. It’s a lovely colour,” she said.

“But you will hear the sound of your own plops,” I said. “Why did you buy it?”

“Well,” she said, “I like copper and a chamber pot is always useful.”

“For killing slugs?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “You either lay planks down on the ground near the plants – which they will hide under when the day comes – or you can use half a grapefruit.”

Grapefruit: weapons of mass destruction in the slug war

“You drop the grapefruit on them?” I asked.

“No. You cut the grapefruit in half and then eat the middle out,” she explained, “then over-turn it  and put it on the ground near the plants like a little hut for the slugs… And you maybe put some water around the area because they are drawn to anything that’s damp and then they hide under the hollowed-out half grapefruit and think Oh good. I’m not going to dry out during the day. But you find then the next day and, em…”

“You kill them?”

“Well, only one fell for my plank ruse this time,” she said, “but I read an article on Google that said, in one hour, you can collect one hundred slugs.”

“In a small space?” I asked.

“It didn’t say…” my eternally-un-named friend mused, “It didn’t say what size of space. But I suppose, if you had a very large garden…”

“Like the back garden of Buckingham Palace,” I suggested. “If the Queen did it, she’d probably get a hundred. I think I read somewhere that she likes grapefruit.”

“I would think, in your garden so far I’ve easily caught twenty odd.”

“Yesterday?”

“Over a period.”

“I don’t suppose Prince Charles would approve of his mother stalking and killing slugs,” I said, lost in my thoughts. “You had that dream last night.”

“Mmmm…..” my eternally-un-named friend said, also lost in thought. “About a giant…”

“Slug,” I said.

“Ye-e-e-s,” she said.

One casualty in the on-going back garden war of attrition

“What was it doing?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just had to find a bucket of water big enough to stick it in. The chamber pot was not big enough… And then there are the eggshells…”

“The eggshells?” I asked.

“Well, an alternative is – though you can use all these at the same time, of course – and I think you should – Slugs don’t deserve to live if they eat my sweet peas… Look at the size of my sweet peas! Can you remember what size they were last year?”

“I… I…” I spluttered ineffectively.

“They’re less than half the size!” she told me, her voice rising.

“What’s happened to the top half?” I asked.

“The slugs have eaten them,” she told me.

“But slugs don’t eat from the top down,” I said. “They can’t levitate.”

“Yes,” my eternally-un-named friend agreed, “but that’s why they don’t grow any further, because someone went and ate them when they were starting. They’re half the height and that bush which is supposed to be a pom-pom bush is…”

“… now only a pom?” I suggested.

“Every little sprout!” she said, passionately. “They chew on the new sprouts. A new sprout can’t turn into an older sprout if someone’s gone and eaten it.”

“Won’t the poison just kill them?” I asked.

My eternally-un-named friend has been spreading little blue poison pellets around my back garden for the last few weeks. When we returned last week after a week in Milan, there was a small mound of dead and decomposing slugs under a an up-turned flower pot.

“Another thing which will apparently kill them is coffee,” my eternally-un-named friend told me yesterday.

“Coffee?” I asked.

“I will try pouring coffee – obviously not hot – over the plants… I don’t think it will damage the plants but, anyway… slugs don’t like it and they’re not sure why…”

“The slugs aren’t sure why?” I asked.

“The experts,” she told me reprovingly. “They think it’s maybe because of the caffeine drying-out the slugs.”

“There’s always cocaine,” I suggested. “They’d run around so fast they’d burn their stomachs off and die in screaming slug agony. But why eggshells?”

“I told you,” my eternally-un-named friend said patiently. “They’re like the Daleks. They need a flat surface.”

“Daleks can levitate now,” I pointed out.

“They can’t climb over sharp edges,” she said, ignoring me. “So you put broken eggshells round the bottom of the plants like an impenetrable barrier.”

“Like tank traps,” I said.

“Yes,” she said supportively. “Well done.”

“And it is true,” I said. “You never actually see Daleks at the bottom of plants, do you?”

“Well, in your garden you do,” said my eternally-un-named friend.

A Dalek hides in the undergrowth at the bottom of my garden

“But won’t the poison pellets just kill them?” I asked, persisting. “The slugs, not the Daleks.”

“The blue pellets are very ugly on the ground,” she replied, “and they don’t work when it gets wet, because the whole thing of killing them is with the dehydration. And apparently the poison pellets work by attracting them. So, if they don’t eat the pellets and you haven’t managed to kill them, then you’ve gone and attracted a whole lot who are going to lay eggs around everything and you’re going to have the whole same problem keep happening and, basically, you’re doomed.”

My unexpected birthday breakfast today – half a grapefruit

“I’m doomed?” I said.

“Death and taxes and slugs,” she said.

So it goes.

Happy birthday to me.

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Filed under Gardening, Humor, Humour

Comedian Lewis Schaffer revealed as a multiple killer in New York and London

Lewis Schaffer: the face of a killer

Last night started quite showbizzy. Then it went downhill rapidly.

After his show in Soho, London-based American comedian Lewis Schaffer and I were eating £2 take-away pizzas, sitting on the new wall opposite the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. He paid.

Comedians Paul Chowdhry and Gary Delaney were passing by, noticed Lewis sitting there and stopped to say hello to him.

Then Lewis Schaffer and I returned to talking about my current mouse problem. As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, a mouse has taken up residence in my living room.

A small mouse. But it is a mouse nonetheless.

“We had a mouse,” Lewis Schaffer told me last night, “and my tenants wanted to get rid of it. The Spanish guy thought it was a rat. I said It needs to be killed. They said What about a humane way of killing it? I said It doesn’t work. I don’t know if it does work, but I can’t imagine it working.

“You gotta get glue traps, John. It’s like the glue that is on the bottom of a sticky tile or a linoleum square – your hand sticks to it if you touch it. You put the glue trap on the floor and the mouse gets stuck on it.”

“You put bait in the middle of it?” I asked. “We tried Mars bars yesterday.”

“You don’t need to put food down,” Lewis Schaffer told me authoritatively. “The mouse just stumbles on it and realises Boy! I’ve made a very big mistake. Cos it can’t get off. And then you’ve got no choice but you’ve got to kill it.”

“How?” I asked.

“Scissors in the head,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “That’s what I would do next time.”

“Next time?” I asked.

“I used the kitchen knife last time,” he said flatly.

“You slit the poor beast’s throat?”

“Well,” he confessed. “I didn’t slit its throat. I slit underneath its belly.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it was squirming,” Lewis Schaffer told me.

“Well, it would squirm in the circumstances,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Fighting for its life. And squeaking like a baby squeaking. Like a human squeak. It hits the same…”

“It sounds quite similar to what the English did to William Wallace,” I said.

“Did they cut off his…”

“I think they invented hanging, drawing and quartering for him,” I said.

“I thought that was invented by Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“So why did you slit the belly first?” I asked.

“Because it was squirming,” he replied. “And squeaking. I was aiming for its head. It was squirming desperately and I was aiming for its head.”

“You were trying to chop off its head and you missed?”

“Yeah. I missed because it was squirming and I chopped his belly, which put him in even more pain. And then I cut his head off. And then I threw him in the wastebin.”

“Did you stick his head on a spike at the entrance to your flat as a warning to others?”

“No, but I think they got the idea. No other mouse turned up. Usually they come in pairs.”

“Was this in America?” I asked.

“I did it once in America and once here.”

“So you’re a multiple murderer of God’s creatures.” I said.

Josie Long is going to come after me,” Lewis Schaffer said sadly.

“Did you behead both mice or only one?” I asked.

“I don’t remember what I did in olden times in the US,” he replied. “In England, I did this to keep my tenants happy.”

“Did you show them the head to prove it was dead?” I asked.

“No. They believed me. I told them You’re murderers. You’re accessories to murder.

“So you are recommending this is what I should do to my mouse?”

“I wouldn’t,” said Lewis Schaffer slowly, “because you’re gonna feel… Well, if I felt bad – and I’m Lewis Schaffer…”

“So what am I going to do?”

“You’re going to get a glue trap. £2.99. You get two. You put one down and you save the other one till later.”

“What’s wrong with a humane trap?” I asked. “I have one in the cupboard under the stairs. There was a mouse before. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Mice are too smart for that humane trap type of shit,” Lewis Schaffer said and then he paused. “Does it sound like I’m being cruel that I killed a mouse? They don’t tell you how killing a mouse is going to rip your kishkas out and make you feel bad that you’re a human being.”

“Kishkas?” I asked.

“It means Rip your stomach out.”

“That’s what you did to the mouse. That’s what the English did to William Wallace.”

“All I remember is that I killed a mouse in New York maybe 10 or 15 years ago and, when I was asked to do it again in London, I didn’t want to do it.”

“But you did it.”

“We live in very recessionary times,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I need the rent from the tenants.”

Later, I drove Lewis Schaffer to his home via my eternally un-named-friend’s flat in Greenwich. She likes cleaning.

“You slit its throat?” she asked Lewis Schaffer. “There must have been blood everywhere. What did you do with the knife?”

“The knife?” Lewis Schaffer asked.

“Do you still eat with it every morning?”

“There was glue stuck on it,” said Lewis Schaffer, “and blood. In order to get the glue off, I had to use a lighter.”

“You kept the knife,” my eternally un-named-friend said slowly.

“If you use a lighter on glue, it would burst into flames,” I mused.

“The glue was melted off,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “You just can’t throw away a knife every time you kill a mouse,” he told my eternally-un-named friend.

“But how many times are you going to kill a mouse?” I asked.

“As often as it takes to kill those…” said Lewis Schaffer, then he paused. “What are you looking at me like that for? You wanna get rid of it, you gotta pay the price. The price is living with guilt.”

“I wouldn’t have guilt,” my eternally-un-named friend said. “The mouse should not have come into the house.”

“Is there some way of using Zyklon B?” I asked.

“If you ask a mouse to leave and it doesn’t…” my eternally-un-named friend continued. “I haven’t tried that yet, but I might do.”

“You could persuade it to go to the shower room,” I said.

“John,” said Lewis Schaffer, “I’m not going to do some Holocaust joke for your blog.”

“Did you hear about the trap I’ve made?” my eternally-un-named friend asked Lewis. “A piece of paper over a bowl of water.”

“Mice can’t drown,” said Lewis Schaffer. “They can swim.”

“It worked once for me,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “There was a dead mouse in the water. I presumed it had drowned. Maybe it had had a heart attack.”

“Maybe it died of embarrassment,” I suggested, “at falling for the trap.”

“Maybe it was just its time to go,” my eternally un-named-friend sighed.

When I got back to my home in the early hours of this morning, there was no dead mouse.

It is still there somewhere. In the living room. Confident. Taunting me.

I have to do something about it.

Death is inevitable.

For one of us.

Well, for both of us.

But, as in comedy, it is the timing that matters.

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How to inhumanely kill rats, mice, pigeons and people from France

Me - at one with nature

Yesterday I was in Greenwich, talking to someone who lives in a wonderful home up an alleyway with its own open back yard. In reasonable weather, she leaves the door from the living room to the courtyard. This is fine, except mice can wander in. Once, a rat came in.

Her dog, a Jack Russell terrier, went mad running round and yapping. The rat took refuge behind a kitchen cupboard. The Jack Russell refused to leave the kitchen for two days and two nights, occasionally barking through the night.

Eventually, the two humans could stand it no more. They bought some sticky paper specially designed to catch rats. (Yes, there is such a thing. It is like fly paper but for mice and rats.) They hung it down the back of the cupboard overnight and, sure enough, in the morning, when they pulled the paper up, the rat was stuck to it, squealing.

But this provided a quandary. How to get rid of the rat.

I think I would have thrown it in an outside rubbish bin, still alive. Instead, the husband attached a sharp knife to the end of a broom handle and stabbed the rat to death.

The couple still have traumas at the thought.

I have never encountered an indoor rat, only mice.

Apparently, when I was a small child in Campbeltown, living in a makeshift flat above the storage room of a shop, there were mice around.

As an adult, I have only encountered a mouse once.

I was walking to the kitchen about five years ago. As I turned from my living room to the hall, I saw a mouse in the doorway of the kitchen. It looked at me, surprised. I looked at it, surprised. It then literally leapt up the stairs.

It paused; half-climbed, half-leapt up the vertical of the first step. Stopped momentarily. Ran the few horizontal inches to the next vertical; half-climbed, half-leapt up it. Stopped momentarily. Ran the few horizontal inches to the next vertical. And so on.

I was mesmerised by the speed and agility of the small creature. By the time I moved towards the stairs, the mouse was halfway up and beat me to the top, running into the spare bedroom.

I ran in, shutting the door behind me, but I could not find the mouse.

Eventually, I decided to lift everything off the floor. I still couldn’t see any mouse.

I left the room, carefully shutting the door. The next day, I bought a humane mouse trap cage and put some cheese in it.

A week later, the mouse had still not taken the cheese. Two weeks later, the mouse had still not taken the cheese. I cleared the room of furniture, piece by piece. When I lifted a box of books off the bed and lifted the sheets, there was a flattened mouse underneath the bedclothes, a little leg sticking out at each corner.

How it got up the smooth wooden legs, round the bed base under the mattress, up onto the bed and under the bedclothes, I do not know. But I remembered lifting a heavy box of books off the floor and dropping it heavily onto the bed when I had cleared the floor. It had flashed though my mind What if the mouse were in the bed? but I dismissed it out of hand as being impossible.

I was talking to my eternally-un-named friend about this today.

“You’ve freaked out and never opened your doors since,” she said. “Considering you’re a man whose great grandmother came down from the hills speaking Gaelic and hunting haggis, you’re not a man at one with Nature, are you? Nature is not allowed to poke its head in. It was a mouse. It wasn’t a rat. Get over it.”

“I just think bubonic plague,” I said.

“As I did,” she replied, “with the two pigeons who were busy dying on my balcony in a hysterical manner. I came home and they were just huddled-up; they looked really mangy and grey and black and moth-eaten and were flapping madly if I went near them. I wasn’t going to pick them up with my hands and there was no way to get them out of my balcony.

“Whether they’d been attacked by a fox or were just old and on the way out or even were very young… It was ghastly.

“I actually ask wasps to leave and they do. But you can’t do that with pigeons or mice.”

“You can’t?” I asked.

“You can’t,” she said. “I had to put a plastic bucket over the top of the pigeons and shove cardboard underneath it, so that I could turn the bucket over.”

“What did you do with them?” I asked.

“I don’t like to say,” she replied. “It was pretty adrenaline-rushing. Oh, alright. I put them – and the bucket – the whole lot – into the communal bin at the bottom of the rubbish chute and shut the door. I figured they were not my problem after that. They had come onto my territory. I didn’t invite them. It was all very frightening and probably negative karma.”

“Can you rid us of the French?” I asked.

“I like the French,” my friend said. “They admire the older woman in France. They dress well. Older women are still seen as sexual there. I would have studied French a lot harder at school if I’d realised all this. Now it turns out that was the one subject I should have really concentrated on. And, of course, they have nice food.”

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Filed under Death, Mice, Rats

The Kray Twins killed him… ?

Yesterday, I had a chat with my chum ‘Lou’, armourer and death consultant on the infamous and much-reviled Killer Bitch movie.

He had recently read an old copy of the ‘Revised and Updated’ 3rd Edition of John Pearson’s highly-respected book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins.

The book had given him a few laughs, principal among which were several references to the Kray Twins’ driver Billy Frost (referred to in the index by his 1960s nickname ‘Jack Frost’).

The Profession of Violence says:

“The comradeship within the Firm was not improved when two of its members disappeared after trouble with Ronnie. One was his driver, a talkative young man called Frost…To this day, Frost (remains) on Scotland Yard’s missing persons list” and later the book says: “the great (Scotland Yard) investigation, for all its thoroughness, seemed to have missed the biggest crimes… there was no hint of what happened to Jack Frost”.

Well, I can tell you the only great mystery surrounding the ‘death’ of Billy Frost is why it is implied that the Kray Twins killed him. He did take a journey North after a couple of killings committed by the Krays (the second being the murder by the Krays of his friend Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie) but he certainly did not look dead when he talked to me in 2009 during the filming of Killer Bitch and, if he was killed in the 1960s, his ghost successfully managed the neat trick of posting me a Christmas card that same year. I think he was happily living at home in the East End of London when The Profession of Violence was first published in 1972.

Lou laughed: “I’ve seen John Pearson in the same room as Billy Frost, standing about ten feet from him!”

There is a 2008 interview with Billy on YouTube and he was interviewed in a February 2010 issue of Spitalfields Life.

It’s amazing how people allegedly killed by the Krays over forty years ago can be so lively.

It perhaps goes to show you should never believe anything you read about the Krays.

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Lower costs and corruption with the creation of a national UK police force?

The government reckons it can make large savings on the cost of policing by making cutbacks to “backroom” posts which will not affect the numbers of police on the streets. I have no idea if this is true or possible, but there obviously could be large savings to be made by cutting duplication of bureaucracy and by centralisation – all the more so if a National Police Force replaced the local police forces we currently have.

I understand the arguments against having a National Police Force – basically, that we don’t want  policing to be controlled by central government because there might then be a short, slippery slope to a police state.

But we already have the Special Branch, MI5, GCHQ, Echelon and god alone knows who else roaming the country observing us. The motorway cameras are linked centrally and the local police CCTV cameras can be linked-in. if someone tries to detonate a bomb in Haymarket in London, the perpetrators can be linked relatively quickly to an attack at Glasgow Airport and people can be arrested on a motorway in the north of England. All because the various national government, local government and police cameras around the country can be accessed centrally.

Yes, I know… this is all being done not by the government itself but by the independent police and/or possibly by the Special Branch and MI5 (in reality called the Security Service and, not surprisingly, never known by its initials).

But, let’s be real, this is the 21st century. Crime is not limited to national boundaries, let alone county boundaries. I really do not think (much as I’m sure they are loveable people) that the Dumfries & Galloway Police are really resourced to outwit a South American drug cartel with a turnover of billions of dollars per month.

There is also the corruption factor.

Larger bureaucracies, by and large, are less prone to corruption than local, smaller organisations. In my lifetime, there has been very little corruption at national government level in the UK. Some, but not a lot. Local government, of course, has always been prone to corruption because of old-boy networks. It’s a question of size. I am old enough to remember the much-admired T. Dan Smith scandal in North East England.

The UK is relatively large and it seems to have little national political corruption.

The Republic of Ireland is much smaller and seems to run almost entirely on corruption – the Charlie Haughey factor, I think – everybody knows everyone else. It’s amiable and admirably Irish, but widespread. Political corruption Scotland I know nothing about, but the size of the country’s population and its concentration in the central strip between Glasgow and Edinburgh doesn’t bode well.

Corruption in the current English police forces (according to the National Criminal Intelligence Service in 1998) has reached Third World levels though, to be honest, that’s no different to the 1960s when the Richardsons (always far more sophisticated than the Krays) were rumoured to have an Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police on their payroll. In 1966, the Metropolitan Police was so corrupt that Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, was reported to be thinking of replacing up to 70% of the Met’s CID with officers from Birmingham, Devon & Cornwall, Kent and Manchester… and, frankly, if he thought there were un-corrupt police in Manchester in the 1960s, he must have been taking some seriously strong illegal substances.

When Roberto Calvi of Banco Ambrosiano was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge, there was a persistent rumour that one million pounds had been paid to someone in the City of London Police to obstruct, divert and stifle the investigation.

It always seemed to me that the bungled investigation of the Stephen Lawrence killing in 1993 – which resulted in the Met being officially labelled as “institutionally racist” had less to do with racism and more to do with corruption. In a pub, a Customs & Excise investigator working on a separate case saw the criminal father of one of the suspects hand over a bulging envelope to a police officer working on the Lawrence enquiry. To add surrealism to corruption, at that time the criminal father was wanted by the police but was living quite openly in South East England. I rather suspect some other brown envelopes may have found their way into other policemen’s hands.

At the moment, the Home Secretary oversees the Met; other police forces are overseen by local government committees. If the police forces in England were centralised into a single English Police Force – or, even better, if it were politically possible to create a single UK Police Force – there might be less blatant police corruption and the centralised bureaucracy would presumably be much cheaper because duplication would be cut.

On the other hand, of course, the bribes might just get bigger.

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