07.01.2006 09:21 - Living With Terrorism
1989 was a worrying time where I used to live. In the 70's, Birmingham was torn apart by the infamous pub bombings. In 1989 there were renewed IRA attacks around our town, and so it was decided to step up the security at my Dad's workplace, a defence subcontractor. So they sent for the Bomb-dog.
The Bomb-dog was a lovable cocker spaniel called "Chuckles". Chuckles wasn't your typical spaniel - you know, the sort that get far too excited when you come through the door, attempt to wag their whole body and end up defecating on your mum's carpet. (That's another story.) Oh no. Chuckles was a bomb-dog, and was a highly-trained operative. Chuckles had been trained to use her highly-sensitive nose to root out Semtex explosive.
Chuckles and her handler were brought into the main engineering office, and everyone was ordered to leave their desk and stand near the door, just in case. Not just in case of a bomb, but just in case Chuckles got really excited and followed through. A number of the engineering staff had owned cocker spaniels. You could tell by looking at their hall carpets.
To start with, Chuckles gave everyone a good sniff, so she knew what they smelt like. Her handler then let her free, and she ran around the office, sniffing the air.
All of a sudden, her tail straight and her front paw went up.
She'd smelt something.
She raced through the maze of desks, closely followed by her handler.
She made a beeline straight for my Dad's desk, and started barking, and scrabbling at his desk drawers. She barked madly at the drawers. There was no mistake. Something was in there.
"Whose desk is this?" asked the handler in a hushed voice, after ordering Chuckles to be silent.
The crowd of engineers, as if by magic, parted, revealing my father. "er. Mine." he said.
"Will you come here, please, Sir?" said the handler.
My father went over to him and the by-now mental Chuckles.
"Do you have the key to this drawer, Sir?" asked the handler.
My father produced it.
"Can you unlock the drawer, Sir. Slowly."
My father inserted the key, and turned it in the lock. Everyone stared at the drawer.
"Please go back to the door, Sir", said the handler. "Everyone please be very quiet."
The Handler produced a long, retractable prod, crouched down behind another desk and used it to hook the draw handle. By now, as you can imagine, the atmosphere was somewhat tense. He pulled on the prod, and the drawer began to slowly open.
There was a click.
Several members of staff did a good impression of their pet cocker spaniels. It was the drawer reaching the end of its rails.
The handler gingerly went over to the drawer and looked inside. Reaching in, he carefully pulled out a cylindrical red plastic packet. Emblazoned on the side were the words :
"McVities Digestive Biscuits"
They were my father's elevensies. Apparently, they were also Chuckles's favorite reward for finding bombs.
She wouldn't get on with checking the rest of the offices until she'd had a biscuit.
If you've enjoyed this tale of exploding cockers, then vote for me now. Go on. It's either Newell and me or some sad creature boring up the internet with their unfunny whines and blinkered political rantings.