Thursday, September 23, 2010

Defending the Thames

I've just taken a break from my current endless work to watch the first episode in the new series of Spooks. MI5 agents may come and go (alas poor Ros) but Harry and Ruth still hang on grimly, battling to save Britain from the baddies.

And this week, without wanting to give away too much, terrorists were trying to send [deleted] up the Thames to blow up the [deleted]! As of course this had all been found out at the last moment it was too late to raise the Thames Barrier and due to [deleted] London's [deleted] was out of action, leaving Harry with the agonising dilemma about whether to unleash the capital's final resort weapon, namely the secret [deleted] hidden in the [deleted]!

Things were simpler in years gone by.

On Sunday while wandering the lanes of Wapping I was approached by a member of the Police force and invited to step into their station. Now of course these sort of requests are hard to turn down, but in this case rather welcome, as it was the once a year opening of the Thames Police Museum as part of the London Open House weekend.

And very interesting it was too. The Thames Police went for their first patrol back in July 1798 and they've been watching over these waters ever since. In the museum you could see mementos of years gone by, uniforms, pictures and models of cutter's they sailed in and galleys they rowed.

Above you can see one of the tools of their job, a plumb line used to check for depth - hence the phrase "plumbing the depths." Today of course they have sonar and RIBs that can do 45+ knots, but many jobs have remained unchanged - such as picking bodies out of the river (apparently 23 so far this year).

Now that's a body count even higher than Spooks, which no doubt would make Harry and Ruth look into each other's eyes even more darkly and moodily.

But it wouldn't be the same if they weren't.

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