Someone called me lazy and selfish yesterday.
They may be right, I'd like to think they are not.
"Have a good day off" They said.
I'm striking. Not for a day off, although it's nice. Not because I'm selfish, far from it. Am I lazy? Hell no.
I'm a member of Police Staff, a Public Sector worker.
Today is a day of action against proposed pension reforms. The Government want me to pay a greater contribution.
But you'll get it back when you retire, you say? No I won't. If I'm still alive when I reach pension age, I won't get back this additional contribution, in any form.
These extra payments are to help pay off the UK deficit.
I rent my flat. I can't afford to buy a house. I pay for my own gas, electric, water, Council tax, contents insurance, TV licence and so on. Nothing I have is paid for by the Government or anyone else.
I'm proud of that.
I'm engaged to Miss CSI, our wedding day planning has made us realise, we probably can't afford that either.
Do we still invite that annoying cousin?
I'm on a decent wage, but I don't live the life of Riley. I have a few hundred pounds a months as disposable income. Most of which goes on diesel for my car.
I, like most Public Sector workers put in 150% at my job. I work through my lunch, I don't take breaks and I very rarely go home on time.
Do I moan about it? Sometimes. Most of the time, I just get on with the job. Why? Because I love it and it makes a difference and that's the way I am.
I work for a living.
My working week a few weeks ago:
Monday: Rest Day - Volunteered for ten hours with a neighbouring Police Force as a Special Constable - Travelling 100 miles round trip for this force. Most of which is paid by me.
Tuesday: (0700-1500) At work at 0645. Worked through lunch. Got home at 1615. No overtime.
Wednesday: (0700-1500) At work at 0645. Worked through lunch. Got home at 1600. No overtime.
Thursday: (1000-1800) At work at 0930. Had a sandwich whilst at a job. Got home on time.
Friday: (1400-2200) At work at 1330. No lunch or dinner. Home at 2230. On call until 0700.
Saturday: (1200-2000) At work at 1130. Cup of soup before I went out. Off duty at 2030. No overtime.
Sunday: Rest Day working as we haven't got enough staff. Overtime paid. Tomorrow will be my first day off in seven.
This is a typical working week.
Sometimes, home is just where I sleep.
On top of the Pension reform. The Policing budget has been cut by millions of pounds. By next year, my department will be thinner on the ground.
We're likely to lose all overtime, weekend working allowances, shift allowance and on call payments are to be hacked.
The new shift pattern will include nights and seven out of nine weekends at work. With no additional payment.
I'm often on call between 2200 and 0700. I'll get a call and I need to be at the scene within an hour. Anytime of the night, anywhere within the force area. For being on call through the night, I get about two hours worth of pay. I'm happy with this. This will be halved.
All of this means a pay reduction for most people.
The Autumn statement yesterday suggests that even more public sector jobs are to go, which will affect me and my colleagues. If I am still here then, my pay is to be capped after the current freeze.
I don't get expenses for gardeners, second houses, drivers, cars, advisors and I don't take home millions in bonuses.
"Think of all the inconvenience you'll cause" I'm aware of that. What would the point be in striking and no one noticing? None.
I'll lose a day's pay. I should, I'm not at work.
I went to burglary the other day, the tenant let me in. The house was cold. Did she shut her windows and doors? No. She lit all four gas rings on her hob, turned them to full whack and they remained on the whole time I was there.
"I ain't paying for it mate" She says whilst laughing.
And I'm the selfish one.
I walked along the path beside the water towards fluorescent jackets, I could see their reflection in the clouds in the murky brown water as the wind blew ripples in it, Fire, Ambulance, Police, Special Rescue and others were up ahead.
One of the firefighters had a long pole, on the end of the pole was a man.
Floating. Face down.
Contrary to popular belief, bodies don't float straight away.
When someone dies in water, they normally sink. This is often as a result of the water filling their body, normally through the lungs. As decomposition continues, the bacteria in the chest and gut produce gases. These gases cause the person to float, normally by the torso. The head and limbs often follow suit.
Bodies that fall into the water face down, already dead, may float from the off. This is normally because the air in the lungs can't escape.
This man was wearing a green three quarter length jacket, a scarf, grey trousers and black shoes.
He wasn't young.
He had to come out of the water, the Fire Brigade were itching to get him out, they had been there for a while.
When people see someone in water, they're not sure who to call first. Normally, each Emergency Service will contact the other and notify them. All services are likely to go to such an incident.
I was with another CSI, and we lay a plastic sheet on the ground in line with him. The Firemen pulled him out, as gracefully as they could and lay him on the sheet, then it was up to me to search his pockets for ID.
I had gloves on but he was cold. I could feel that much.
He had a hanky in his left pocket, which along with everything else, was soaked through.
I checked him for injuries as I went, but I couldn't see any.
He had his watch on his left wrist, the hands surrounded by water. A bubble remained inside the face, it looked like he'd worn that watch every day of his life, and now his death.
As I put my hand into his left hand inside pocket of his jacket, I struck gold.
A clear Lloyds moneybag; inside was a driving licence with current address, a roll of notes, a shopping list and two Rover keys.
This doesn't look like someone has bopped him on the head or pushed him in for his valuables.
I checked under his clothes for injuries and marks. There were none. I checked front and back of his neck, nothing.
He had very hairy ears.
It turns out the gent had left home earlier that morning to go to the City to do some shopping with a friend- he never got there, and now he never would.
He was widowed and lived alone, so no one would have missed him at home. His friend wasn't sure why he hadn't arrived but wasn't worried, supposing there was no reason to be worried.
Whilst I was there, a police unit had found the male's car parked up and secure only a mile away.
The male had no injuries and he had all of his valuables. There was nothing suspicious about his death.
This wasn't a crime. This was a tragic accident.