In Answer to Your Question, Murdo....

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

It seems planning, buying and cooking my next meal has taken precedent over everything else in my life, recently. Feeding myself seems to have become something of an obsession and other stuff is suffering as a result.

Take training, for instance; I can't face any of that fasted cardio nonsense in the morning. I've got to load up on breakfast before I consider ever raising my heart rate. Then the gap between breakfast going down and lunch prep beginning leaves little time for the gym, regardless of the attraction of the mid-morning MILFs that proliferate David Lloyd Epsom at that time of the day. The afternoon is probably the time most likely to see me pull on a pair of trainers but a post lunch snooze always seems more appealing than a beasting on the treadmill.

I realise all of this kinda suggests I don't work but nothing could be further from the truth. Regular readers of this blog will know my paid employment is as a fire-fighter in the sunny streets of Battersea, South London. But that's a feast or famine type of job (interesting description given my reference to food....maybe it is an obsession). Being a fire-fighter involves four days of blue, flashing lights; hot, red flames and black, choking smoke followed by four days of stand down that ought to result in the perfect time for exercise. 

Alas not.

In an attempt to kick start my training I decided to buy a road bike. I imagined myself streaking along the roads of Surrey, heading for the nearby zig-zag route up Box Hill that inspired so many two-wheeled lunatics during the Olympics. I acquired said bike but in actual fact it now sits in my lounge performing the role of an ineffective clothes horse.

'Why is this?' I hear you ask.

'Because you're a lazy, food-gobbling, shiny arsed twat!' I hear you reply.

Well, yeah...partly that, but also because I'm fucking terrified every time I go on the road and bastard lorries thunder past me. Also, because you get numpty fucking drivers with 50% of their attention fixed to the text message they're sending as they bear down on a totally inept cyclist wobbling along the road like a baby giraffe taking its first steps.

There's a reason for my road-bound terror but I'm not sure the statute of limitation on relating operational incidents I've attended involving dead cyclists would yet allow me. Not that you need to hear this stuff anyway.

But that statute of limitation....I'm not sure it applies to incidents involving animals, does it? I'll let you be the judge of that.

So I received a Facebook message from Murdo The Magnificent today asking me what the Fire Service's current approach to incidents involving cats in trees was (his cat had obviously taken refuge from Murdo's terrible singing in a high, leafy canopy).

I sent what I believed to be a detailed reply and mentioned my personal belief in the appropriateness of the emergency service's deployment to acts of animal welfare.

Murdo's cat decided that the lure of Kit-e-Kat was enough to tolerate his master's strangled rendition of 'Flower of Scotland' and lured him from the branches of his leafy retreat, so my advice was not required, but it got me thinking of the Bronze Medal for Animal Life Saving that I was awarded by the RSPCA some years ago.

You might think that an RSPCA Bronze Medal for Animal Life Saving is pretty inconsequential, right? I'll admit that it doesn't exactly sit as proudly on the chest alongside campaign gongs and medals for gallantry that one might see at a Remembrance Day service, but it once got me out of the shit when I flashed it to an RSPCA officer after being accused of kicking my neighbour's dog.

Anyway, back to my awarding of this medal: We were called to a house fire in Battersea and arrived to discover a two up-two down terraced house with flame and smoke punching out of the windows on the ground floor. At the time I was a foot soldier in the fire brigade and as such received instruction that it was believed a resident was in the property. My task was to enter the burning house with a colleague and a charged hose and search for the individual concerned.

After starting my breathing apparatus set and checking my mucker was ready to go we entered the house and began our search. I would like to say that we charged in and rapidly cleared each room like you might imagine a black clad SAS seek and destroy team might as they hunt some soon-to-be-extinct terrorist cell. But the fact is that a Victorian house affected by fire becomes something of a death trap, with holes in the wooden floor and stairs that might collapse at any moment, so we move through the house without the luxury of vision and with our weight on our back foot, sweeping and stamping with our front foot as we proceed.

After discovering and extinguishing the fire in the downstairs lounge we completed our search of the house, sweeping and stamping every room, hall and landing, content that no human resident was present. You should appreciate that at this time not only was the house still full of black smoke, it was also heavily affected by steam resulting from our successful extinction of the blaze. All of this results in zero visibility....hold that thought.

Upon our exit of the property a neighbour is busy telling the officer in charge that the resident of the house is at the pub but her two dogs and two cats are definitely inside the building.

'Lads, get back in there...there's four animals need rescuing,' instructs our governor. So we do as instructed and head back into the smoky darkness looking for a couple of pooches and a pair of cats. 

It doesn't take long before we discover two small dogs and a wee kitty hiding in a corner of the kitchen. We sweep them up in our arms and rush outside with them. They're placed in the footwell of an ambulance and oxygen is administered by the paramedics present. Luckily, because they're low to the ground, the animals made the most of the diminishing oxygen in the property and their natural instinct to move away from fire kept them safe. But, fuck me, we searched high and low for that final cat. In the dark and smoke we swept and stamped that whole fucking house to no avail.

When we came out we agreed that Tonto the tabby had probably escaped through a window so we packed up and went back to the fire station for a cup of tea. Of course, work still needed doing at the property, but we handed that over to a relieving crew from Tooting fire station. We'd done the heroic stuff, that was later recognised by the RSPCA, and happily left the shitty clearing up to Tooting.

Next day my governor received a phone call. 

It went something like this:

'Hello ****, this is ******* from Tooting. Just to let you know that, last night, after the smoke cleared at that house, we found Tonto the tabby.'

'Ah, that's great. Really glad he's the householder happy?' replied my Guv.

'Not really, ****, we found Tonto on the upper floor where he'd been stamped flat into the carpet. We peeled him off and could have posted him in a large envelope.'

So this statute of limitation I mentioned.....

Laters (from a holder of the RSPCA Bronze Medal for Animal Life Saving)