Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Chatting with ACPO, BNP Babes and French Honesty.

I am now working 4 jobs. Well, 3 teaching and one as a part time translator. This latter job seemed utterly fabbo with the promise of 800 Euros for translating 100 pages of scintilating prose about the Croatian tourist industry into English.

Then the drawbacks of having a Netbook became infuriatingly apparent.

First of all the bastard screen is only 10" and decided to be difficult and not display the document correctly, leaving me contemplating being nearly a grand out of pocket. Then I found out that even by scrolling up, down, left and right the software still couldn't cope and went all over the shop. I was contemplating whoring myself around Trastevere to raise the cash for a decent laptop when one of my colleagues fortuitously let slip that he wanted to sell a 26" flat screen PC monitor.

Oh joy!

So now I can plug my tiny, backpacker's e-gateway to the world into this thing and while away the hours shoving text into Google Translate (and you didn't hear me say that) and being bored out of my mind reading about Zada and the Dalmation coast.

Last couple of months have been pretty intense.

First of all I took the girlfriend home for Christmas which turned out to be a mistake almost from the off. We both have what Italians would describe as "very strong characters" which means if I do something she doesn't like she tells me and if she does something I don't like then I'm being a petty, childish bastard for pointing it out and not seeing the righteousness of her intellectual stance.

We spent New Year with my mother and step-father and they live in Warwick. A picturesque place even in a cold, shitty English winter and walks up to the castle and into town were the mainstayers of our cultural immersion into this former Roman town. Various strange squabbles erupted over the time we were there and the first really irritating one was when she insisted the electric blanket be left on while I was in bed so it would be warm when she got in after spending the requisite half an hour in the bathroom. As I'd just had a skinful of wine and was knackered from playing Bowling on my mother's Nintendo Wii (surprise Xmas gift from her husband) I said I would roast and did not want to dehydrate and be extra hungover in the morning. She waved her finger in my face and growled that it had just BETTER be on when she got back from powdering her nose.

I simply got out and went to sleep in the other spare room, only to be woken up thirty minutes later by her lambasting me for being so selfish and with lower lip a-trembling saying she didn't want to sleep alone.

Next day she took objection to the woollen hat I was wearing as it was blue and didn't go with my black coat. I pointed out that it was minus 2 outside, there was snow everywhere and it was not for fashion but merely to stop my bonse from freezing. When I refused to take it off she said we were through and then stormed off into town, returning an hour later with a black woollen hat that went better with my apparel.

Final straw was when a female friend of mine came to stay in Rome.

I've known Anushka from the Republic of Moldova for about 7 years. She was one of my students in London and in 2006 and 2007 we had a fling, it didn't work out but we remained friends (I think being told "yes I'll marry you Lance but only for a visa" was what put me off). She came to Rome for New Year as a backpacking adventure but didn't try to book a hotel until it was too late. As I was about to move into a new apartment in central Rome and was paying rent on it for a week while in England I said she could stay there and I would arrange with my flatmate to give her the keys.

My girlfriend hit the roof and said she didn't want Anushka in my flat. I pointed out that I wasn't there so infidelity wouldn't be an issue. She got upset and said it was wrong for me to let another woman stay in my house, especially one I had once drunkenly proposed to. I said Anushka couldn't find anywhere else to go and as I was paying around 100 Euros for a week when I wasn't even there it was pointless for her to have to pay for a hotel. My girlfriend shouted at me that she should have found somewhere to go before coming to Rome. I countered that when I went to Moldova for 2 weeks in later 2008, her family put me up at a week's notice, fed me, watered me and threw me a birthday party. I added that I had apparently behaved quite badly at the party and got very drunk and been incredibly stupid but they hadn't held that against me. Therefore I owed Anushka the courtesy of somewhere to stay and more importantly I did NOT want it on my conscience if something happened to her if I told her she couldn't stay and she was attacked and/ or robbed while staying somewhere else.

This was tolerated just barely with simmering contempt but it became a nuclear blitz when Anushka couldn't find anywhere to stay for the two days after I got back (when I'd agreed with my girlf that Anushka wouldn't be there). We tried Couchsurfing.com and also their "Emergency S.O.S Couch" facility. I suggested to my other half that I stayed with her and Anushka could stay at my place. She pursed her lips in obstinacy and said it was not acceptable and she categorically did NOT want Anushka in my home, regardless of where I slept. Attempts to reason with her and to point out that Anushka was one of my best friends achieved nothing so I eventually said "right, whether you like it or not she's staying at my place WITH me".

After much arguing and both of us getting very upset, I went to her house to pick up some things I'd left there over Xmas. She said "oh, ok you can stay here and Anushka can stay at your place"

to which I replied "too fucking late. Wouldn't give willingly when asked, I don't want it now" and she stated flatly

"if you walk out that door we are finished".

I walked out the door.

Anushka flew home safe and sound and while upset that I'd lost someone I thought I had a future with, I was proud that I'd put my ethics first and not swallowed my pride just to get what I wanted.

Former Girlfriend- If you're reading this babe. I REALLY like you but you are like the ocean trying to wear away the cliffs. I will not change who I am and if you loved me you'd accept that.

Day before I flew back to Rome I had a sit down with an Assistant Chief Constable of my old police force.

My book came out just before Christmas and coincidentally the ACC had finally agreed to see me for a belated "exit interview" which you are entitled to upon resignation or retirement. As I had left citing bullying and disability discrimination in June 2008 they had closed ranks and locked shields and refused to see me for an exit interview as they presumably knew the shit storm they would be creating by actually listening to what I had to say. I had requested to see the Area Commander (Chief Superintendent) but that was dismissed out of hand by a Chief Inspector who intercepted the exit form (which wasn't addressed to him). I then wrote to the Chief Constable, the Deputy Chief Constable and the 3 ACC's of the Force saying exactly how badly I had been treated and that I was "immeasurably distressed". These complaints led to two investigations. One by Human Resources and another by Professional Standards. Both times I was fobbed off and told that after having examined the "evidence" (the files on me kept by the bullies) they had found no evidence of mistreatment. I then received a letter from the ACC for Professional Standards (highest rank you can go to without getting to executive level or even British Government) saying that he was not willing to see me. I replied that as I hadn't asked to see him but the Chief two ranks above him, his unwillingness to meet me was irrelevant and I would now be taking the matter to the media and the local police authority.

Surprise, surprise a letter then arrived from the Deputy Chief saying that he had "asked" the ACC to meet with me at our mutual convenience.

Meeting was in early January and I took the Federation Rep from my old Area with me (who I had never seen look nervous until this). Reception told us to wait in the HQ canteen on the ground floor and after about 10 minutes the ACC came in. The Fed Rep stood up and addressed him as "Sir" as per protocol while I remained seated and shook his hand while sipping my coffee and called him by his first name. He offered us a drink and then joined us at the table for a chat.

I immediately thought "oh God, here we fucking go" as he hadn't looked me in the face when shaking my hand, went "are you Lance Manley?" and the fact that we were having an official "meeting" in a staff canteen made me believe this was going to be yet another Fob Off. However he then said "we can start here and if necessary take it to my office" and against all the odds and to my immense surprise and restrained delight he was a complete gentleman, listened carefully to everything I said and was thoroughly decent.

He asked me what I wanted from the meeting and I replied "just justice, I'm not after money" and he nodded and added that the police have been sued many times before.

I thanked him for seeing me and he replied drily "yes but it's not been by the friendliest of methods".

I countered that my anger was at the Force, not him personally. He gave me over an hour of his time and visibly winced at some of the things I told him (even putting his face into his hands and shaking his head at the point where I told him about the Diversity Presentation No.2). He came out with one really killer line which was "I can't prove or disprove many of the things you've said to me today. It's one person's word against another's. However if you tell me that they picked you up on how you walked then I'm obliged to believe you because you COULDN'T have made that up". He promised me things would change from now on and while that wouldn't help me he would ensure that, while no official recognition had been made of what happened to me, no one else would be treated the way I had been.

Funniest thing was that the canteen was virtually empty when we arrived and within 20 minutes had filled up completely. Absolutely no one asked to sit at one of the 3 spare seats at our table and whe we stood up to go the people nearest to us looked visibly nervous of the long haired bloke with the long black coat on and a red bandana, calling the ACC by his first name.

All I ever wanted was to be listened to fairly and objectively and finally felt that I had been. I had a copy of Stab Proof Scarecrows in my bag to give to him but as he was a decent man that would have felt like farting in his face, so I just settled for shaking his hand and thanking him for his time.

Professional Standards. As I know you're reading this....sometimes people just want to be treated fairly and to voice their objections in a reasoned discussion. You and your Force's stubborn stupidity over refusing to extend me the dignity of an exit interview (which I was entitled to) dragged this out a lot longer than necessary. It's ironic that I had to get to 3rd from top before I met someone who was decent, fair-minded and a gentleman. Oh and the offer still stands on a free signed copy (although I've no doubt you've already read it). Oh, and Sergeant Kerwan is still a complete wanker, please pass that on from me.

12th February 2010 was a historic day in Rome. It snowed. For the first time in 20 years.

Predictably, as in the UK, the Roman population simply threw themselves into a panic and the infrastructure ground to a halt within about 10 minutes of the first flake landing on the Vatican roof. Schools closed, buses were on a go-slow and people stayed home for fear of the Second Ice Age that was almost certainly going to envelope the capital by lunch time. The fact that it only settled for an hour and then turned back into rain didn't seem to effect the city-wide mood and I overheard more than one person describe the situation as worse than Haitan (sp?) earthquake. And to think these people had an empire that to this day is regarded as one of the best organised ever.

A friend of mine recently split up with her boyfriend. He wasn't particularly nice to her about it and, it turns out was actually fucking her best mate behind her back. Nice guy.

So she's decided that most men are bastards (isn't this how feminism started?) and that she wants to get off with a woman. There's a gay club near Colosseum and she's offered to pay for all my drinks and taxi fare if I go with her while she waits to enact the Katy Perry song in a room full of Italian lesbians. She told me that she's afraid she'll get beaten up if they think she's a straight woman on a recce. I pointed out that most gay women would probably regard picking up a cute, blonde, 20-something, bi-curious babe as a challenge and far from getting assaulted she might want to think about powdering her minge before she goes out.

Time will tell.

Some twat recently posted an "interview" with some BNP babes (good looking birds that the BNP have begun using to give the party a "softer and trendier" image). True to form he simply took the piss out of them and was clearly delighted in their ignorance over certain subjects and wrote "sic" next to any spelling mistakes they'd made in their replies. I posted the following in the Comment Feed.

3rd February 2010
What I find most disturbing about this is not the responses and abuse of the Queen's English from the interviewees. It's the blatant condescension and mickey taking from the interviewer.

BBC's Question Time set an all time low for bullying the perceived bully and until people realise that everyone in a democracy has the right to voice their opinions then society will very soon reach breaking point.

Kick a dog often enough it will eventually bite you.

When that dog is the BNP you are playing with fire.

I live in Italy and over here the Northern League (worse than the BNP) are allowed to voice their opinions without having fun poked at them by righteous moral high ground holders. My friend said that they allow them to speak because they a). Are elected and b). What they say is enough for most people to form a negative opinion of them.

The UK is a mess right now. Labour suck, the Tories stink and forget Liberal. When non-racist people start saying "well, the BNP DO have a point" (usually followed by "BUT I wouldn't vote for them") you realise things are well and truly screwed up.

For stupid people reading this I will sum up.

I don't support the BNP but they have the right to be heard without being made the objects of ridicule. In England we love an underdog and that it what we are making them right now.

Lance Manley LLB (Hons)

True to form I was called a Nazi and a fascist and various other childish, playground taunts by people who think getting arrested for Drunk & Disorderly (after being told at least 5 times by the police to simply shove off) is evidence of Gordown Brown's stormtroopers kicking the shit out of them

Sunday 14th February and despite the two lorry loads of cards that DHL had to pay 4 drivers overtime to deliver to me, I decided to venture into the eternal city for a meeting with some Couchsurfers.

Last year from Feb to May I had a whale of a time with some really good people I met of this website (and even got to shag 4 or 5 of them) and we would meet nearly every Saturday or Sunday to get drunk in the parks around Rome, play frisbee and dance our arses off in sweaty rock clubs.

There was a hardcore of about 20 people and sometimes as much as 50 "affiliates" that would gather to snaffle red wine in the some of the more beautiful areas of Rome (and the 1000-strong Pillow Fight just ROCKED!)

This year it has fizzled out as most people have fucked off home abroad or are being "sensible" with permanent boyfriends and/ or girlfriends. So the shell of the Rome group seems entirely populated by perverts (quote from one girl "this bloke said he could host me but NOT my boyfriend. Could the twat have made it any MORE obvious what he wanted?") and boring twerps that think looking at Etrusacn monasteries in the suburb of Fablianoz is a scintilating way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

So...with baited breath I ventured down to Piazza Spagna to meet up with some folk who I anticipated would either be the "a stranger is just a friend I don't know yet" types or people who would use up 24 shots on a 12 megapixel camera on every church they came across.

I was pleasantly surprised to find they were a lot of fun and there was a quite delicious, diminutive French girl (with her equally short yet less yummy male friend ) there who was taking a break from teaching teenagers the finer points of losing the battle of Agincourt, to take in the sights and smells of Italy's capital.

She paid me what I chose to interpret as a compliment after a magnificently ugly woman went by astride a horse. I balked and went "fucking 'ell! She so minging I can't tell which is the horse".

My froggy female friend giggled and went, "you say such horrible things but you are fuuuuny".

I also spent a pleasant time taking the piss out of her accent and saying "haw, haw" a lot (and not a drop of alcohol in me) which got lots of foot stamping and pursed lips. I then decided to nip into the Body Shop for some face cream and took her with me for a second opinion.


You may think it's poofy to moisturise but as much as I love my dad I have no desire to have his face when I'm his age (think Clint Eastwood circa "Dirty Harry" and now...I rest my case). The stuff I usually buy is a pink, vitamin E-based compound that while successful in holding back the years is bastard expensive at 12 Euros a tiny tub. My French friend sniffed the tester and gave it her feminine stamp of approval meaning I forked out a small fortune for something that gets my cousin screaming about how she likes men with stubble who smell of beer and lamenting the lack of masculinity in the modern patriarchy.

Later that day she described me as "a complete pervert with a one track mind who never stops drinking". Was that supposed to be an insult??!!!

Today there was a total shutdown on line B of the Rome underground train service. Unusual for a usually efficient system (although the fuckers strike about once a fortnight) this thing was during rush hour meaning I got to the interchange from line A to find a scene reminiscent of the damned waiting for their allocated spot in Hell.

Roughly 400 people on each platform, in subdued lighting, in a dark underground tunnel, in almost complete silence, punctuated only by the occasional grunt as the masses realigned to allow someone to move past, swaying gently to the rythm of the rat race (while respecting the yellow line).

I stood there for about five minutes and was getting a severe case of the heeby jeebies having watched far too many zombie films as a kid. Finally I couldn't take it any more and fucked off upstairs, hopping on a bus to work and arriving 40 minutes late but unable to shake the image of nearly 1000 people in a confined space underground, acting like it was no big deal.

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