Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
I'd travelled all the way from Cornwall the day before and, after getting hideously lost on the Underground and being misdirected by some hardcore punks, I'd finally got to Hendon Police College where I was immediately shouted at for walking on the grass. I was assigned to room 506 in the men's accommodation tower block. A wave of terrible homesickness had suddenly washed over me. It was my first proper day away from home. I was 18.
I hung my clothes up and decided to drown my sorrows in the student bar. At least I’d meet some of my fellow newbies and I wondered whether they’d all be feeling as miserable and out-of-their-depth as I was. As I stepped out of my room, I nearly collided with a tall guy who was sticking an A4 flyer to the wall with sellotape. In fat marker pen it said, 'COME AND SEE! COME AND SEE! THE BIGGEST TURD IN THE WORLD!' An arrow beneath it pointed down the corridor. The flyposter grinned at me and headed off in the opposite direction. He had more posters in his hand. I followed the arrow along the corridor and came to another notice: 'GAZE IN WONDER! BE AMAZED! THE BIGGEST JOBBIE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM!' Further arrows took me to the stairwell and down two floors: 'YOU’RE SO CLOSE! THE WAIT IS NEARLY OVER!' and most intriguing of all: 'IT’S AS BIG AS A SALMON!'
I suddenly found myself joining the back of a queue. Yes, an actual queue of people had formed and was slowly shuffling forward towards the communal third floor toilets apparently to see the biggest turd in the world.
I can’t lie to you. The beast was impressive in a foul sort of way. It lay laterally across the toilet pan, its fat belly resting on the bottom with both ends emerging from the water as if it were trying to crawl out. And it really was the size of a salmon, albeit a smallish one. Maybe a trout. I have no idea how the creator of this monster managed to walk away from it. It must have felt like giving birth. And I also wondered who was going to be brave enough to flush the bugger away. Whoever it was, I reckoned that they’d need to break it up with a stick.
It was a depressing prospect that the height of entertainment in Hendon was bodily waste. And several pints of beer didn’t help to lift my maudlin mood. I drank alone as I simply wasn’t in the mood for company and, besides, the other drinkers all seemed to know each other. I assumed that they were from a previous intake and were already part-way through their training. A new intake came in every fortnight or so. With every fresh pint, I became more introspective and mawkish. Eventually, at Last Orders, I singled out a 10p piece from my pocket change and found a payphone. I dialled home. In my desire for the comfort of friendly voices, I hadn’t realised quite how late it was and I woke my parents up.
“Listen Stevyn”, said Dad, “It always feels strange and scary the first time you move away from home. Give it a week before you make that kind of a decision.”
“But you don’t understand!” I said, “Everyone bloody shouts at me. They take the mickey out of my accent. They think that poo is funny.”
“Just one week”, said Dad. “Things will be different, you’ll see. Once you get to meet people and make friends. It was the same for me when I first moved away.”
“But you went back home.”
“Because your mum and I felt you’d have a better childhood here in Cornwall, that’s why. And we think that you did. Just give it a week. Okay?”
“Okay. Thanks. Bye.”
I carried on drinking until the Duty Officer kicked us all out of the bar and then staggered back to my room for a shallow, uncomfortable sleep. And having completely failed to set my alarm clock, the next thing I heard was the desperate knocking on my bedroom door.
The door opened and a red face peered around the frame.
“You Stevyn Colgan?”
“You’re late for parade. And on your first day too. You are in deep shit.”
This was not an auspicious start and set the tone for most of my police career thereafter. Maybe, if you're good, I'll share some more anecdotes some time.
That was 31 years ago today. I eventually completed 30 years as a copper which means that the other significant anniversary today is that I have been officially a 'civilian' for a year. A whole 365 days have passed since I hung up the helmet and boots. It's been an extraordinary year of ups and downs - I won't bore you by going over old ground covered in previous posts - but, on the whole, it's been an adventure. It's taken me a year to find my feet but I'm just about there.
I'd like to think it's all upwards from here.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
I dug out an old school year photo and couldn't help but be surprised at how little he's changed. He has slightly shorter hair admittedly ...
Meanwhile, I kept the appalling hair but added a few pounds to my frame ...
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Trekkers and Whovians ...
... and Buffyettes and Gaimanites.
These are all based on real cosplayers I saw at Comicon, San Diego, a couple of years ago - right down to the braces on Darth Maul's teeth.
Each print is slightly larger than A3 size (see top photo) and beautifully printed on high quality thick art paper stock. Each print costs £10 - that includes postage and packaging in a sturdy cardboard tube. If you buy all three, I'll charge you just £25 all in. Every print will be signed and numbered by me and each is a limited edition of just 150.
Interested? Email me or contact me via Twitter @stevyncolgan. I'll accept PayPal (my PayPal address is firstname.lastname@example.org), cheque (made payable to S Colgan) or sexual favours. Okay, so one of those isn't true. Who writes cheques any more?
Some lovely artwork for less than the cost of a Chinese or two packets of fags? Go on ... I may be famous one day!
But once a year, the pub gets turned over to the alternative community to celebrate diversity, originality and difference. There were fashion shows of corsetry, rubberwear and all manner of frilly things, a graffiti wall, live sessions by several bands and an over 18 photography exhibit.
I spent most of my day manning a stall selling prints of my artwork and live doodling which was tremendous fun. Sadly, I'd had a headache all morning and by mid-afternoon it was turning migraine-ish so I had to quit and head off at 7pm just before the real party started.
The event was organised by top glamour and erotic photographer Mark Page of Photoswithattitude and Neil Reynolds of Alternator promotions. The event raises money for charities that, in the past has included Sophie Lancaster Foundation charity. You may recall the appalling story a few years ago of a girl being kicked to death in a park in Lancashire. Sophie and her boyfriend were savagely attacked just for looking different. Since then the charity has worked hard to break down barriers between sub-cultures and to spread the word that, no matter how we choose to look, we're all the same inside. This year, the cause chosen was Rafe's Place, a group that works hard to provide meaningful and safe activities for local kids. It's named in honour of Rafe Chiles who died at the tragically young age of 23 after a fatal asthma attack. Rafe was dedicated to discovering new young talent and had formed Ultimate Solution - a promotions company that treated everyone as equals and gave everyone a chance. Some artists who played at early Ultimate Solution gigs have since gone on to have successful careers. Rafe's Place continues the good work. I'm going to be doing some work with them myself this year by volunteering with art installations and illustration classes.
It was a very entertaining day spent among genuinely lovely people. Everyone was just so unremittingly nice. I guess that when you spend half your life being judged and abused by others solely because of the way you dress or wear your hair and make-up you become pretty tolerant. Certainly, I've rarely spent such a good day among charming, friendly folks.
Would I go again next year? That's a resounding yes. But next year I'll go as an attendee rather than an exhibitor. I missed so much of the day by having to man a stall. That's why these few photos don't come anywhere near capturing the range of activities or the numbers of people there.
If the alternative community ran the world, what a happier world that would be. With peace and understanding and cupcakes for all.