Stephen Irvine, 12 April 2012
The rain traced hurriedly down the grubby glass, a perpetual race between drops of all sizes as the contestants cut swathes through the grime, a display of randomness and disorder at once captivating and beautiful to the mind of the socially undernourished. This is the modern way it seems – I’m often to be found attempting to enjoy the child-like simplicity of the everyday while my companion spends the whole time tapping away on a smart phone.
With hundreds of friends and followers at his fingertips, it’s no wonder he always leaves me to sit in silence over lunch, his Bender in a Bun turning cold and ever more repugnant as he chuckles away to himself, lost in a world of antisocial interaction. To see the joy in his eyes as he texts, tweets and ‘likes’ his way through life is a great burden upon me, and I yearn for the days when conversations were something people engendered by actually talking to each other.
It was therefore with great empathy that I learned of the plight of the woman betrothed to (former) Chief Inspector Mark Brew – or ‘Inspector Coarse’ as The Sun brilliantly labelled him. I can feel her pain, watching Emmerdale alone while Mark’s own obsession with technology was leading him up a very sticky path, at the end of which awaited his dismissal from Merseyside’s Matrix anti-gun and gang initiative. It brings a tear to the eye to imagine her chatter falling on deaf ears, as her once kind and loving husband leered lustily at saucy pictures and suggestive text messages.
Rather than her suffering, the ire of the tabloids instead focused on the fact that Mr Brew used a force-issued phone to pursue his freaky and foul fancies, but it was actually a list of 4 separate offences that eventually did for the randy rozzer. Apparently it was his making a junior officer drive him 200 miles home from a conference that especially irked top brass, with viewing pornography on his phone, meeting a lover while on duty, and ‘sending and receiving texts with two other women, both thought to be police officers,’ also on his list of unsavoury activities.
The fact that he actually received replies from two female colleagues is probably the most troubling aspect of this story, especially when one views a picture of our hero – it’s hard to believe this isn’t a mock-up by The Sun but the actual Mark Brew – and surely they both need to be impounded immediately for sheer bad taste.
However, whilst poor Mrs Brew’s suffering is undoubtedly sad, and the abuse of his position is more than a little naughty, it still seems like folly to lose a highly successful officer just because he is basically an idiot when away from his anti-gang work. DCI Frank Burnside took all sorts of liberties in order to get the job done, with a far from squeaky-clean private life to boot, and he was a national hero. I wonder how different The Bill might have been in the era of the smart phone – you can just picture the camera closing in on June Ackland’s Android as a text from Burnside comes through: Alright treacle? Fancy a bit of Big Frank tonight? Of course you do, you slag! 😉 xx
I can’t help feeling that Mark probably went for a slightly softer approach, so why not just monitor his phone usage or cut off its internet access, wrap him on the knuckles for getting driven home and going AWOL, and let him carry on knowing that another slip-up and he’s gone. In the wake of the shocking and disgusting racist abuse meted out by a Met officer to a black youth during last year’s riots, it seems that good police officers are still worryingly hard to come by. Brew is a plonker, but had by all accounts been doing fine work in tackling Merseyside’s gang culture, so surely this was the time for the carpet to be lifted and his Benny Hill-esque antics to be swept underneath.
According to Larry D. Rosen, author of ‘iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us’, the average time a selected group were able to concentrate for without some form of technological distraction was three minutes, so I’ll leave it there – you’ve probably got a new text message to read.