Scared of shadows.

Quickie tonight – I have the early shift tomorrow but at least I have a slightly less onerous Saturday morning as compensation.

Around 1970, definitely before 1971 when the friend in question moved on to other friends, as did I, I had a friend.

This friend had a disabled grenade. It claimed no benefits. We are talking around 10 years old here. It was a British WWII hand grenade and I still recall holding it. Heavy and nasty-looking. Harmless though because we could not figure out how to re-arm it and I still don’t know.

Well of course we tried. We were kids and kids always have that sense of ‘what if…’ that is far, far different to the adult version of today.

Less than 100 years ago you could walk around the UK with a handgun or with a sword on your belt and nobody gave a damn. Now, if you walk around with a child that might appear to be a bit uncomfortable, the police are called. And they respond – not with ‘Don’t be such a twat, caller’ but with a full squad car within ten minutes.

In those heady days of yore, the 1970s, any child without a penknife in his pocket was an oddity. Now any child with one is a criminal. Any child not climbing trees or coming home filthy was sent for therapy. Now it’s the other way round.

It really hasn’t taken very long to turn the British from ‘stiff upper lip’ to ‘trembling lower lip’ has it? What a bunch of weaklings we live among now. Nasty, spiteful, Stasi informers the lot of them, and they have the gall to call other people ‘ignorant’.

A Polish man who tried to deter burglars with what amounts to a Turner prize art installation (it’s better than most of them) faces eight years in jail for nothing at all. The police admit that he had nothing that could really explode which was a shame. An explosion might have tidied the place up a bit. He had a disabled grenade which is now illegal to own in case it is re-armed.

Forty years ago I looked into re-arming one of those and I still don’t know how. The Polish man had no intention of doing so anyway, it was just a bluff.

He also had bullets (it is not clear whether any of them were live or not) but nothing to fire them with. Even so, it is apparently illegal to have the bullets, presumably in case you are able to throw them really, really hard.

Everything in his burglar deterrent was a bluff. The clock strapped to a fake bomb didn’t even have batteries. He did nothing to cause harm to anyone – not even a burglar.

It’s all based on ‘maybe it could be….’ but on that premise the contents of every kitchen in the world must be illegal. I have seriously sharp knives in my kitchen. What should I do, carve the Sunday roast with a spoon and a sharp look?

If someone burgled me, I would be more concerned that they’d get to the cleaver first than that they might find a disabled WWII grenade, look up the internet and spend a few hours making up explosives and detonators and putting it back into service. While the burglar is doing that, I would phone the police and tell them he has a chilly child, since that gets a far faster response than reporting a burglary these days. I’d probably get arrested for wasting police time though.

Seriously. We have a country where you can now be arrested, charged and sent to jail for eight years for bluffing a burglar.

One question for all you immigrants. Why the Hell do you want to come here? The rest of us would love to leave!


11 thoughts on “Scared of shadows.

  1. Unfortunately, it’s the posession of ammunition that’s really got him here.

    I can’t tell from the article what state the grenades are in, and what arguments could be used in his defence, but the picture seems to show intact primers on all the ammo. If they also have powder in them they’re live, and he’s in posession so that’s the offence.

    The rest is just window dressing, and ends up with facing time for “being a silly sausage and drawing attention to the actual offence”. 😉


  2. “Even so, it is apparently illegal to have the bullets, presumably in case you are able to throw them really, really hard”

    Actually making it a criminal offence to possess live ammo is a lot more sensible than one might think at first glance. A lot more sensible than 5 year sentences for mere possession of Granddad’s service revolver. You see, if you don’t know from a 70’s childhood already, making a gun is a piece of piss. We used to make .22 ‘zips’ out of radio antennas, lighters (yeah back then someone under 21 could buy FIRE!!) and a pair of pliers….and , as a nod to health and safety, a pair of gaudy 70s gloves- no doubt made out of highly flammable material.

    Just about any metal tube of the right diameter will suffice as a ‘one time’ barrel…and a bathroom style slidey lock gives you a barrel and a striking ‘pin’ in one even. What is difficult is making ammo! Sure we made black powder but probably not really good enough to propel a bullet with any serious force and even if you manage to make decent powder you still have the problem of making a cartridge and cap etc etc etc which requires far more tools than dad had in his garage. I’m told ground up ‘proper’ match heads made a decent substitute for fulminate of mercury though…if you were wanting caps to fire a Colt/Adams style revolver….if you could get the metal nipple caps..

    If you can’t get ‘proper’ ammo then it doesn’t matter if you have grandpapa’s service webley in the bedroom drawer or not.

    Blair should have simply tightened the law on possession of ammo not banstabated guns in general.


  3. I haven’t been in one for twenty years, but last I was in an “Army Surplus Store” they had a crate of disabled grenades by the register. An impulse item. That sort of store used to be where you purchased inexpensive camping gear.

    Forty years ago I looked into re-arming one of those and I still don’t know how.

    Everything remotely explosive or flammable has been removed. It’d make a good rock, were you to throw it. For something like that to be illegal speaks to a fear the likes of which does not bode well for a confident future society.


    • I nknew I had a memory of that – grenades in the ex-army stores. And gas masks, and all sorts of useful stuff. I once had an RAF greatcoat that was the best coat I ever owned. Are there any of those shops left., I wonder?


  4. Oh happy days of old. A fiend in 1970 had some amazing stuff. His father was an RAF reconnaissance photographer. there were piles of photos stored in his attic. They were boring though, (I would like to have kept a few when they were burnt to make room for some wireless transmitters). What was great was a WW1 German grenade, a Luger and a German bomb detonator/timer. It was a work of art, made of brass or bronze. I imagine the Luger was illegal then, but lots in that house were illegal, like my friends brothers pirate radio station.


  5. “Now, if you walk around with a child that might appear to be a bit uncomfortable, the police are called. And they respond…”

    Because they are terrified of another Victoria Climbie/Baby Peter case. I can – just – understand that, and sympathise a little. IF…after they reassured themselves, they laughed with her about the idiots in the world and bid her good day.

    But the really sinister bit is the demanding of her name and the inferences they drew when she didn’t want to give it…


    • In Scotland at least, I think the police are obliged to respond to a call even if it looks like it’s going to be completely frivolous. As you say, what they do when they get there is the critical part. They don’t like having their time wasted, well nobody does, but the person they are called out to pester is not the one who wasted their time.

      A few of the frivolous callers charged with wasting police time might help curb the dopey public’s enthusiasm for reporting each other.


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