More shit you couldn’t make up

Yes everything, including common sense, goes straight out the fucking window…

It’s not often that you read a story in the news that has it all – drama, slapstick, police forensic prodedures, terrorist attacks, Parliament, bathos, pathos, Aramis, d’Ar-fucking-tagnan – or that touches on the zeitgeist so readily – terror, paranoia, insecurity, health anxieties, delusion, folly – but  this one has it ALL.

Yes, that’s right:

Police hospitalised over HP sauce

Police officers rushed to hospital after a suspicious substance was thrown through a car window were released when it was identified as HP sauce.

The Metropolitan Police said officers responded to reports of an “unusual smell” coming from a car with a smashed window in Enfield, north London.

This raises several points.

Surely, when most people encounter a mystery brown substance they think it’s possibly, well…shit.

Having had children and various pets you get attuned to thinking that way.

You can’t help it.

Even now if one of the cats has something mysterious and brown on its coat I check it out.

In order to identify any suspicious brown substance  I prioritise the five senses that I possess.

First, sight.

OK, it’s brown but it doesn’t look easily identifiable.

A whole turd…well, no question about it.

But just a vague brown smudge or smear…well, that needs closer investigation…

So, then I use smell.

This is usually the clincher.

I’ve learned over the years what shit smells like and that if something smells like shit then it’s probably shit.

To my certain knowledge I’ve never gone on to use the three other senses I possess to identify shit.

Hearing is obviously a non-runner – except when it’s being produced, shit is totally silent.

(If you hear shit buzzing, that’s just flies.)

Touch is one that you sometimes can’t avoid – but it’s always accidental.

And taste…well, that’s a definite no-no.

I’d like to think that the police involved in this case did the same thing, and that having eliminated shit from their list of  dubious brown substances they moved on to consider what else it might be.

So, sight…

Brown, but that’s all.

Smell…

Hmmm…

Now, HP Sauce has a unique and historic recipe using many ingredients:

  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Dates
  • Glucose-Fructose
  • Black Strap Molasses
  • Tomato Paste
  • Modified Cornstarch
  • Salt
  • Orange Juice Concentrate
  • Onion
  • Spices
  • Tamarind Extract
  • Apple Juice Concentrate
  • Garlic
  • Chili Peppers
  • Mustard Flour

And what does ‘HP’ stand for?

Bizarrely, yet somehow satisfyingly. for ‘Houses of Parliament’…

Personally, I hate the stuff but I do know what it smells like and ingredient numero two (the greatest ingredient after water) is the big clue.

Vinegar.

Now, that has a very distinctive smell.

Which leads us to a question that might well crack this case wide open.

If someone put HP Sauce over your car’s interior would you be able to smell vinegar?

I’d say so.

So, back to Plod, who’s looking at the car’s interior and seeing brown stuff which has zero odeur de merde.

He smells it and he smells vinegar.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d stop right there before I rushed off to hospital thinking that I was the victim of some evil joke, mailicious prank or some terrorist chemical attack.

Maybe I’m being unfair and the police’s reaction was just the result of being very cautious – but based on what supposition?

If it was a strange white powder may be you’d think it could be a terrorist Anthrax attack – but brown spooge?

The worst thing it could be (the way most people would react to it) would be shit and, in my experience, shit is harmless when seen and smelled although, admittedly, rather unpleasant.

The enigmatic substance had ‘an unusual smell’.

I’d question that and suggest that you’d probably find HP Sauce in every police station canteen up and down the country thus familiarising every policeman with its distinctive aroma.

Has brown stuff ever been used to attack people?

Should we be on our guard against something which looks like shit?

Most terrorists like shit which blows shit up – not shit which smells of vinegar.

I daresay that there have been practical jokes using real shit, but then you’d know it was shit by the smell.

Anyway, to conclude this rambling, the long and short of it is that the police have come out of all this with egg on their faces.

Maybe they’d like some brown sauce to go with it…

The real conspiracy

I’d like to start a fan club for Stella Rimington for stating publicly and plainly what many people – myself included – have thought for several years now:

“It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism – that we live in fear and under a police state.”

It’s not something she could have said, or needed to say, when she was head of MI5 but fair play to her now for coming out and highlighting this government’s terrible duplicity.

As many people have pointed out, following this recent interview, she is to be applauded for showing respect for our civil liberties and it is to be fervently hoped that whoever is in charge of our security services at present is of a similar frame of mind.

Indeed, it is the Home Office and the Police who seem to be the true villains of the piece – with 42 day detention proposed by the former and pushed by the latter being a good example – but the part of the House of Commons in all this is where the real danger lies.

We have a government with a small majority and the end of its current term in sight.

No-one in the Labour ranks has the cojones to rock the boat and possibly lose their job.

So, the Commons is now like any other place of work with its workers facing ‘redundancy’ – which is ironic, given the current and very real fear amongst the nation’s workforce of being out of work – afraid to speak out and intent on not making waves.

New balls, please.

Damned if you do…

The police – apperently without direct government involvement – arrest an MP, search his house and offices and then question him for nine hours and then everyone shouts, ‘POLICE STATE!’

I wonder if everyone would be quite so vociferous if the police had started the same procedure and then been called off by a government minister?

Surely that’s far more indicative of a police state, when the duties of the police are interfered with by the government?

As it is, the police and whoever set them on to Damian Green just look foolish and that’s made of 24 carat win…

What’s in a name?

I’m following the Damian Green case with great interest but haven’t reached any grand conclusion – the facts don’t seem to be all in yet. What I do have so far is a vague feeling of disquiet that it took NINE or TWELVE or TWENTY (depending on which news source you read) anti-terrorist (why not ordinary Plod FFS?) police to search the guy’s home and offices and that if government denials are true, the police seemed to have acted quite independently of anyone who was actively involved at the Home Office, which is where the alleged irregularities stemmed from. It’s all very curious indeed…

What has struck me is the ascendency of ‘Stasi’ as a description of totalitarian policing – sending ‘Nazi’ and ‘Gestapo’ down a few rungs in the emotive use of language charts. Everyone seems to be using it – politicians, human rights spokespeople and Joe Public on radio phone ins.

I’m guessing that it’s the interweb’s fault. For so long now, conversations and discussions in chatrooms, usenet groups and blogs have been brought to an abrupt end using Godwin’s Law that we’re now afraid of invoking it in real life  and are trying to avoid it.

Call someone a Nazi and you’ve gone that bit too far – but call them a Stasi and you’re OK. You can carry on ranting away, safe and secure in the knowledge that you’re not going to appear too hysterical or hyperbolic and that a lot of people won’t know who the Stasi were anyway.

I just hope this isn’t the thin end of the wedge and that it will still be OK to compare people with a certain mindset or agenda to the Nazis.

If we lose that word as a description then we lose its meaning and maybe its power to describe a truly evil phenomenon that would have meant that none of us would be free to sit here and spout our own particular variety of bollocks had it been successful in its ambitions.

Lose the word and you lose the lessons it should teach us all.

We’re a long, long way from a police state, so let’s keep the word ‘Nazi’ and the like for when it matters, not when we just need a cheap sound byte to impress the easily swayed.