Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Book Review: Diary of an On-Call girl by WPC Bloggs

One of the books in my holiday reading has been the hysterically funny journal of a Woman Police Constable, "Diary of an on-call girl" written under the psuedonym of "WPC Ellie Bloggs."

It is the account of a few months in the life of a WPC in a town called "Blandmore" in the county of "Blandshire." Any politician with responsibility for the police ought to read it to wake them up: everyone else should read it because it is highly entertaining.

I suspect it is not impossible that "Blandshire" might actually be Cumbria and that "Blandford" may be somewhere like Penrith or Kendal. However, the fact that I thought I recognised the county where I live at a couple of points while reading the book may just be an indication of how horrifyingly plausible it is. Perhaps lots of other readers were thinking that "WPC Bloggs" must work in the local police force covering their own area.

I can't think of a better way to indicate the amusing and ironic style of this book than to quote from the foreword:

"Before you turn to page 1, the first thing you need to do is to forget everything you think you know about the police.

You know - the bits where they come out when you call 999, try to find out what's happened and arrest the guilty parties? Forget all that. While you're at it, forget about common sense, too.

Instead, try to imagine a world where the police are run by a group of paranoid, pedantic and politically-correct accountants. On acid. ...

Imagine that half the people who work for the police spend their lives phoning officers asking them to respond to emails asking why they forgot to tick a box on the fifth in a set of a dozen forms relating to an incident where ... [ a drunken four-year old] said a rude word ...

The modern British police is like all that, only much, much madder. ...

I wrote this book after realising ... that people outside the job have absolutely no idea what's going on in the police. ...

Modern policing is a bizarre, twilight zone: one part George Orwell, one part Franz Kafka and one part Trisha.

At times you may find it all a bit confusing. That's because it is. There are various references to police departments that sound unnecessary and pointless. That's because they are. ...

This book comes with a health warning; CONTAINS SATIRE, IRONY, AND TRACES OF SARCASM."

If you can read "Diary of an on-call girl" without laughing, you are Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and I claim my peerage.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read this book over the Christmas period too and thought it was brilliant. Hilarious in parts and, as it is her true account of her job, scary too. My favourite bit is when the woman reports her four year old missing and then swans off to the hairdressers while the police officers search for her son.

If you like these sort of despatches from the front line, I can also recommend Wasting Police Time by David Copperfield and Paramedic's Diary: Life and Death on the Streets, by Stuart Gray.

Chris Whiteside said...

I removed an inappropriate comment from this thread. Commercial adverts are not permitted on this blog.