Monday, March 12, 2018

Inside the Danger Zone

Well, I've survived a trip to the NBC hazard zone formerly known as Salisbury.  I was more than slightly disappointed not to have found myself being stopped by gas-mask wearing soldiers at armed checkpoints on my way in or out nut, to be fair, I was visiting my mother who lives on the opposite side of the city to where the recent nerve agent incident  took place.  Not that I didn't see any evidence of the increased police presence: I did have to pass the cemetery where the stricken spy's wife and son are buried - half of the town's police force seemed to be deployed outside.  Actually, word has it that, having excavated those two graves and finding that they contain bodies, Wiltshire Constabulary decided to investigate some of the other graves there, discovering they also contain bodies.  Working on the hypothesis that the cemetery might contain hundreds of bodies, they have launched an investigation into the possible serial killer who has been dumping their victims there.  

Look, I know that you probably think that I'm being unnecessarily harsh on Wiltshire police - but, when I lived in Salisbury, I once had one of their CID's finest as a neighbour.  It wasn't a reassuring experience.  Local legend has it that this particular Detective Sergeant once crashed his car while returning from a drinking spree in a nearby village, while accompanied by the landlord of a local pub whose leg was in plaster.  After the car left the road and crashed into a tree, the Sergeant allegedly shouted to his passenger (both of whom were, miraculously, unhurt), 'Quick, let's get out of here before the filth arrive!'  After running - hobbling in the case of the landlord - away from the scene, the sergeant allegedly reported the car as stolen to his colleagues.   Not that anyone believed him, but he still got away with it.  Thankfully, he's long since retired (last heard of running a bar in Spain) so the force at least has a fighting chance of actually solving this one.

The TV coverage of my former home town is still fascinating me - it is amazing how different familiar places can look when you seem on the telly.  I particularly impressed by the angle from which they filmed The Mill pub: it made it look both classy and rural.  Believe me, it is neither of those things.  It's a been a boon for the BBC's local news programme, South Today - this a story with international significance which will run for months and it is on their doorstep, meaning that they don't have to waste time every day trying to find stories of unemptied dustbins in Eastleigh or a dog fouling the pavement in Waterlooville to fill out their main half hour evening bulletin.  Mind you, I think that they are still confused by the fact that major local news stories sometimes happen somewhere other than Reading, Southampton or Portsmouth, coverage of which three cities seems to take up most of their output.  I was confused today by their reporter who claimed to be outside Salisbury police station.  There is no such place.  In their infinite wisdom, the Tory council decided that  a city of 44,000 people didn't need a police station and closed it, transferring the custody facilities to Melksham.  Because, hey, nothing ever happens in Salisbury, does it?  What is effectively just an office in the local council buildings now constitutes Salisbury's police presence.  Ironically, the nerve attack victim's house is actually a former police house situated near the former cop shop...

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