This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Good Old Britain.

Following on from my last post, I do not think people realise just what the majority of police time is spent on. When we aren't filling out checklists and files or catching genuine baddies, we are sitting in a decaying house listening to the woes of someone about whom society has forgotten. Unfortunately this often means the elderly. Whether barking mad or just lonely, the old have learned that whereas their family can just ignore the pesky ringing of the phone, the police cannot.

The reasons for the call are usually one of:
  • I think I've been burgled but I don't know when, how, or what's been taken.
  • I've fallen out of bed/my chair.
  • My last light bulb has blown.
  • It's them kids again.
  • I'm old. Help me.
These people have every right to call us and PC Bloggs is more than happy to attend and sit between two stacks of books dating from the turn of the last century, while Mrs Dora Biddles recounts tales of her war-time marriage. Dora lives in a ground floor flat and hasn't technically been "Mrs" for thirty-five years since her husband died of alcoholism, but in her heart she always will be.

"John had a mean temper," she will tell me. "He wasn't a nice man. Or handsome. In fact, you could say he was one of the ugliest people you could find."

She will now rise, declining all offers to pass whatever it is she needs or help her up, and totter around the living room searching through a metre-thick perimeter of ornaments to produce a battered old photo of Major John Biddles. I note that he was indeed a hideous specimen.

"But then, we loved each other, you know." Now Dora will cry for a few minutes while I locate some tissues.

I stay for half an hour and make Dora a cup of tea. By the time I leave, she has usually forgotten why she called the police and thinks I am her daughter Marjorie. I will be the only visitor she will have until the home-care woman drops in the following morning to put some milk in the fridge. Dora has family - three daughters in fact - but they prefer to leave the job of providing comfort and companionship to specially-trained crime-fighters in stab-proof vests.

Less and less can I make time for Dora. I almost feel the emails pouring into my inbox as I sit with her, most of which will tell me that I have forgotten to tick a box on a form and it has been sent back to me for ticking. It is almost as if the originators of these emails don't care about anything except statistics!

A general rule of old people's houses is that the area of free floor space decreases with each year that passes, as if each square metre represents the number of years the person has left to live. In the end the useable space in the room will consist of a single armchair, adorned with a squashed floral cushion and next to a side-table covered in cigarette packets, medication and the TV controller.

That is where the old person lives, in that chair. One day their possessions and memorabilia will become too numerous and demand the final space on the cushion, and I will break down the door to find them dead and alone under a heap of unpaid electricity bills.

Copyright of PC Bloggs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear me, that's just terrible. I mean where are social "sevices" or the local CMHT?

10 November, 2006 00:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps they're too busy filling in forms, reading the newspaper or drinking tea - just like the police!

10 November, 2006 00:48

Blogger totallyun-pc said...

Blimey Bloggsy - did you forget your cup of cheer this evening? look on my blogg about four or five items down (captured).... theres a good joke to fill your spirits back up again!

PS, it'll soon be xmas, we all know what that means.... more sudden deaths! but at least the cold keeps the smell at bay!

10 November, 2006 01:45

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But it has always been the case, the police were there 24/7 for the old, vulnerable, mentally ill. We used to be more visible and available to them as well as everyone else. In respect of the elderly it is a scandal how little respect we gve them, especially those who have never been a burden, those who worked hard, saved, had personal pride. the sytem is geared against them when they need help, their homes and saving taken from them to pay for care, while the feckless parasites will get the same - if not greater - care for nothing. Interesting how our values are a bit skewed. I'm glad you spend some time with them when they call, they're a generation who still hold the police with some regard and affection. As for the other social services - and manacled by marxist/feminist/new labour ideology and politics.

10 November, 2006 07:28

Anonymous Sue said...

Would it surprise you to know that here in England you look after your old folk far far better than in my homeland - and Im embarassed to say its NZ. Enjoy your perspective on things

10 November, 2006 08:56

Blogger Andy said...

Gosh, there's a few classes of people for whom *that* ought to be compulsary reading... very powerful. (And I write as someone who lost an elderly relative last year - that bit about retreating into one chair is so painfully true, even with three visits a day by the end.)

10 November, 2006 09:54

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post which unfortunately makes me feel very guilty. I think you visited my gran.

10 November, 2006 10:43

Blogger ExtraSpecialCopper said...

Went to Scroatsville's version once. Was a tip, myself and a collegue had to take a statement for, well, I cant remember. We were there for half an hour, I had to stand as there was a heap of books and rubbish on all the seats, my collegue (new probationer pc), well she managed to find a space on something which resembled a sofa. Whilst we were there she must have had about 20 fags, no windows were open and they were filthy covered in smoke yuck!

I felt like I had been smoking for 20 years or something! Had a cough for about a week and my uniform stank of fags.

She has a bit of a reputation around here!

10 November, 2006 11:54

Blogger AntiSocialWatch said...

Its not an easy situation for the police or social services to deal with. The elderly are often left to fend for themselves, home care is still pretty dismal with carers being sent out and given maybe a half hour to do a call. Whats half an hour when you are the only person they see all day? They don't have hardly any time for small talk with the things they have to fit into that time. Then you also have the often very stubborn elderly, who, even though its obvious to all except them, need help more times a day, the system won't pay for the care, there is also a lack of resources too, very often a push into an elderly persons home is what finishes them off.
Care in this country for the elderly is absolute crap.

10 November, 2006 16:11

Anonymous PC Nutter said...

PC Bloggs, though you have strayed from your normal whit, the talent and mastery of words is clear. Very touching post.
Always a fan

10 November, 2006 16:16

Blogger Phill said...

I think PC Nutter hit the nail on the head - I was almost in tears reading this! Great post.

I should point out that in Scotland (where my wife's grandparents reside - mine have all passed) the elderly receive free social care regardless of your financial status.

It's only south of the border where those who've worked all their lives to collect assets have them taken away. Luckily my late Grandmother didn't have anything to take when she went into care.

10 November, 2006 20:16

Anonymous Anonymous said...

all to common, hate the christmas day sudden deaths nobody wants to know, not family,undertaker or mortuary staff.pathetic

10 November, 2006 23:02

Anonymous justacop said...

Excellent post, a picture that we can all relate too, sad and yet very true. The sudden death season is about to be upon us and as someone else has pointed out, these people are proud, never been a burden, and society, as well as family in many cases, forget them.

It doesn't fit in with todays 'family model', 6 kids, different fathers and all the trappings of social security (including all latest electrical items including SKY TV and 42" Plasma TV) - very selfish. Free up some of the resources that these people get thereby forcing them to actually WORK and give whats left to the elderly who have no means usually of making ends meet.

10 November, 2006 23:14

Blogger Bitseach said...

Oh magod Pc Bloggs, you almost brought a tear to the eye of this cynical old bitseach. Seriously.

[In the immortal words of Seinfeld, after wiping his eyes and finding his fingers wet, "Wha'? What is this salty discharge?"] :(

12 November, 2006 01:12

Anonymous kris said...

PC Bloggs

I am in tears. it is true that what you described is how many elderly in this country spend their final years- alone. And who is there for them? You and other cops who don't do it for any kudos- just simply out of good will and kindness.

Pity the Guardian readers of this great country will never take the trouble to find out what police actually spend their time doing- it really isn't about looking for the ethnic/religious minority du jour to hassel.

Very well written.

12 November, 2006 19:25

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of listening to one of Bedfordshire's finest boys in blue spending an hour talking to a drunk/drugged 'young' person when clearly the person just needed a friend to talk to.

So much of what you write is a sad reflection on our society and no I didn't go over and offer to take the place of the officer involved.

I was amazed at how the officer stayed patient and calm throughout - even when needing to raise his voice.

13 November, 2006 14:24

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