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“last night a DJ saved my life”…..

December 12th, 2009 Posted in UK Politics by

…or rather

 “last night a state police announcement nearly took my life”

…Let me explain. Thursday night…. approaching London from the east I ran into “Ultimate Chaos 2″…The blackwall tunnel shut, the Greenwich ferry was only running one ferry, the rotherhithe tunnel was chocker chocker block. East London gridlocked. So a 2 hour journey from my mums to Battersea took 6 hours rather than the usual 2. Ok stuff happens….but not this……

I had seen 3 or 4 police cars with sirens blazing as I approached the Limehouse tunnel – listening to a rather engaging programme on radio 4 about climate change. As I went into the tunnel and with out warning I was plunged into what I thought was the 4 minute warning. The police grabbed the airwaves. Yes – really – my radio was seized by the police . Iwas in a state of panic…

“Bing bong …bing bong” …. “POLICE ANOUNCEMENT……..CAUTION….. HAZARD AHEAD……SLOW DOWN” . Sh*t I thought we are being attacked ..about to approach a tunnel with only a flimsy soft top to protect me….WHAT THE HELL ? Thank god i was only doing 2mph. Had I been travelling at 40 mph 20 yards earlier, my immediate instinct would have been to avoid the tunnel (who wants to be in a tunnel in a soft top with a bunch of terrorists?)…I really would have swerved through juggernauts  to avoid the tunnel …

I entered the tunnel with fear and trepidation, heart pumping. A weaker heart would have given out by now. I tried to change channel in case I had reached some freak cod-broadcast by a bunch of nutters… but every channel i switched to carried the same ominous message. No police anywhere to calm my nerves. I attempted to call someone on my phone …had the four minute warning gone out? Did I only have minutes to tell my mum I loved her? No mobile reception. I was truly on my own. Except I wasnt… The guy in the next lane called over  ….”what the f*ck is happening? the radio has gone mental..can you get mobile reception ?…” . I told him I had no idea and my mobile was blocked too, yes my radio had gone mental… Yep… this was it. We were all soon-to-be-dead…. I could not send a text, if I wrote a note it would be incinerated . 

I passed several cars and lorries – verrrryyyy slowly – and they passed me . Questions were passed to each other.. shrugs….one woman actually crying. Me too, if I am honest. Who wants to die in a dingy tunnel far from those you care about?   

After a while however, fear was replaced by anger. People weren’t fleeing for their lives. There was no police presence calmly escorting drivers from their vehicles. AND I was missing a great radio programme (ok may be I was losing it a bit …it was an ok programme- but it was MY choice of programme until it got hijacked..) . This was either a sick joke or the crassest piece of police intervention yet (murders and beatings aside). So, I recorded the message. Noted my speed. Tried other radio channels. Every channel carrying the same message. 

If this was genuinely a police message – why not use the bloody tunnel signs. Dont tell me to slow down when I can walk faster than i am driving.  Dont take control of every possible radio station and then only broadcast minimal information- designed to terrify. Just DONT. full stop.

Clearly I did not die. I went through the entire tunnel listening to the same message over and over and over again. Then, as if nothing had happened i emerged the other end, Stuart Hall (radio 5 now) was on the radio recounting some anecdote about George Best or Man City – or maybe both. As quickly as I had been plunged into panic, I was returned to the mundane world of a wet Thursday night in London.

I am alive. I dont know what that whole “police announcement thing” was about. Who gave them permission to do that? Why did I not know about it? How long have they been doing this kind of thing? How long before the police start seizing control of our mobile phones? One minute we are chatting to our mums, dads, husbands, about life…..the next hearing ominous bing bongs from the police state telling us to stay indoors, avoid the city centre, vote Labour…

Ok maybe that’s a step too far. But for me, and many others travelling through East London last night – if this wasnt a hoax… then the the hijacking of the broadcast airwaves was a step way too far.

Maybe I am one of the last people on the planet to know that this kind of thing happens. If so, then I reckon by some sheer weird coincidence all of the “uninformed” people of this country just happened to be travelling along the same bit of road together. So why didn’t the rest of you tell us ? If you didnt know either , then maybe there’s a problem Houston.

10 Responses to ““last night a DJ saved my life”…..”

  1. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Dick – before you post asking “why does it always happen to you?” the answer is I dont know. But fewer and fewer people seem to be accepting lifts from me these days!

  2. Tim Says:

    No – not a hoax, but you probably encountered something like this:

  3. Hywel Says:

    Did someone really take out their phone to film the inside of the car whilst driving (Speedo shows they were not at a standstill)?

  4. Psi Says:

    Hywel, you appear to be missing the point somewhat.

    It may be technically illegal but the risk from putting a phone on to record whist driving at 6mph is minimal.

    However the risk from panic caused by the police taking over the radio stations is much greater. Even if it were to be a major event such as an explosion in the tunnel using the “break in” system but providing no infomation about what is going on would probably do more harm than good.

    From the link the idea of allowing radio signals to still be recieved in the tunnel seems like a good idea along with allowing emergency services and bus radio communications but the appropriately named “break in” facility seems excessive and definatly is when used for minor trafic disruptions.

    I’ll be expecting Swan Lake to appear on all of the TV stations next…

  5. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Hywel said

    “Did someone really take out their phone to film the inside of the car whilst driving (Speedo shows they were not at a standstill)?”

    Bloody good point.

    With any luck the traffic police’s internet enforcement division will pick this up and the culprit will be arrested, fined, flogged and have their car confiscated. We must show zero tolerance of this outrageous behaviour in these troubled times. They might even be part of an al-Qaeda cell.

    I’d encourage members of the public to be vigilant and alert. Please phone 999 immediately if you know anyone else who behaves like this.

  6. Gandhi Says:

    Not an over the top reaction at all, so much of what is happening now is producing flashbacks from my comic-reading days (more sophisticated types probably read proper science fiction). This is deeply, deeply unfunny and outrageous…

    If I’m not mistaken there was a proposal recently (sounded-out slyly) for patrols of armed police on motorbikes. Add this to your on-street justice, ASBOs, tasers, body armour, and electronic announcements/commands (best throw-in the de Menezes shooting and Tomlinson bludgeoning for illustration) and Judge Dredd is starting to look like a regular Dixon of Dock Green.

  7. Gandhi Says:

    I forgot to mention gas for pacifying “unlawful” protesters recently in the US.

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  9. Alejandra Moore Says:

    A subject close to my heart cheers, i’ve been thinking about about this subject for a short time.

  10. Tim Says:

    10pm on 2 March 2014. Same just happened to me in Limehouse tunnel next to Canary Wharf. Freaked the life out of me. Slightly different voice (I guess they have had a few years of secret focus groups to make it even more menacing) but same message. And on my radio the text changed from Radio 4 to “ALARM”. And let me be absolutely clear – there was no hazard in sight. Nothing. Nada. Just regular light traffic consistent with a Sunday night. Not cool.