Like many others of a certain age I grew up believing that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42. It took Supercomputer Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42.
It took me less than 30 years to discover that this is wrong, very wrong. The actual answer is 1, Teapot 1 to be precise.
Over the course of the last month or so I have heard several tales of officers being deployed ‘on Aid’ for long hours without even sufficient water to keep them fit and alert. I even heard of PSU Sergeants buying their troops bottles of water out of their own pockets. Hugely admirable but it simply shouldn’t have been necessary.
During the course of my illustrious 30 year career I was fed and watered literally all over England, at various times of the day and night, but the most important part of that was that we always knew it would happen.
One of my funniest experiences of Force Feeding’ that I can actually remember was back in my youth in 1976 or so, on the picket line of Grunwicks. We were ‘fed’ (breakfast) with a frozen pork pie, a cold Granny Smith and a cup of something brown, wet and steaming. But fed we were.
During the course of my career I experienced the highs and lows of ‘Force Feeding’ or Operational Feeding as they preferred to call it. Grunwicks was undoubtedly the lowlight, but there are two contenders for the #1 spot. On balance I think that Greenham Common probably takes it (until Met Police Catering Service took over) being fed in the restaurant at Newbury Racecourse. A very close second was RAF Newton during the Miners’ Strike. RAF catering was superb, sorry lads the Army Barracks at Ripon did not make the top 3.
For events in Central London (almost a daily occurrence) the Met had a huge Feeding Centre at Buckingham Gate where you could always rely on the Catering Staff to greet you with a warm smile, good humour and a hot mail, regardless of the time of day or night. The lease has been relinquished and is now, a training establishment for Vidal Sassoon.
However, returning to the bottles of water. This situation would NEVER have arisen if we still had Teapot 1. I’m not going to pretend that every time I went on Aid someone popped up at regular intervals and gave us bottles of water, no, that did not happen. What did happen was that we had sufficient troops on the event that we could always be relieved and sent off for a Main Meal or Snacks. No longer does the Police Service have the resilience to allow for such essentials. Not a luxury, an essential.
For smaller events, or for short-notice events that did not allow for planning of Operational Feeding we had Teapot 1 that would turn up with an assortment of Sarnies and drinks so that we didn’t go without anything at all.
An old Tranny Van suitably modified with a crew of 2 Catering Service staff does not cost a fortune. It is a cost-effective method of getting the ‘bottles of water’ to the troops on the ground. Getting rid of it was a huge step backwards, great for morale as well.
The answer to everything is Teapot 1