back to article Cruise, Kidman and an unfortunate misunderstanding at the local chemist

Still dipping your toe into this Monday? How about diving into a tale from The Register's Who, Me? archives, which this week is a timely reminder that some things have never been entirely safe for work. Today's story comes from "Jack", who was tasked with IT and database support for a film and TV casting agency based in West …

  1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
    WTF?

    Hmm

    Except those would have been entirely legal, consenting adults and all that. In the 90's only erect penises, penetration shots, children or animals would have got you put away. These days not even the erections or penetration. This was a significant over-reaction by the pointy heads. Inventing their own laws.

    As a rule I always let the company know if I'm taking nudes to be developed or printed. It gives them an opportunity to pass on this job, or keep it away from any school leavers. (Yes, I'd have loved to see them when I was 16 but the law disagrees.) My local independent doesn't turn a hair though, seen it all over the decades. I take it as a badge of honour on the rare occasions that I manage to surprise her.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      For sure, but the speed of the response suggests that nobody looked though all the thousands of photos to ensure that there *weren't* any erect penises.

      So Boots staff (not trained in law, but likely had an internal policy) saw photos of naked bodies that didn't look like any 'normal' Reader's Wives shots, and called the cops to be 'better safe than sorry'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm

        Early 1980s one of my neighbours in N. Ireland was getting really fed up with his family forgetting to turn off the 3kW hot water immersion heater. Being an electrical engineer by profession he decided to get a couple of mechanical time switches, the ones where you wound the dial round to 'x' minutes, and they ticked their way back down. He mail-ordered them from an English surplus company, and was very surprised to get a visit from local plod a few days later. It seemed that the supplier had found his purchase a little suspicious given events in NI at the time, and reported it.

        1. Daedalus Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          And then there was the guy in the USA who had to explain to the Feds why he was buying so many electro-mechanical goodies at the time the Unabomber was randomly blowing people up. He was actually producing the prototype of the "Tickle Me Elmo" doll. Being a lone genius working out of your basement has its drawbacks.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          " the supplier had found his purchase a little suspicious given events in NI at the time"

          I'm not surprised. They don't sound like the types of timer used in bombs at the time but I do remember a huge hoo-hah arising from an arrest related to cross-border smuggling (strictly civilian as it turned out).

          Apart from the red diesel in the tank that started things off there were some second hand (or maybe nicked) VCRs "concealed" in a pile of bricks in a pickup. The suspects were from Wales and the Welsh police raided their premises and discovered "timing devices". It turned out that they were VCR timers and AFAIK still in the VCRs. It transpired that what was really being smuggled was the bricks which were stolen. We never did identify the pickup with no discoverable chassis number which is what I got called in for.

          1. nxnwest

            Re: Hmm

            " but I do remember a huge hoo-hah "

            A picture of that huge hoo-hah will definitely cause a brouhaha

            Maybe a broouhooha?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Hmm

              But whatever else you may do, don't poo-poo it!

          2. Daedalus Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            It transpired that what was really being smuggled was the bricks

            Reminds me of the story of a merchant in old India whose sacks of rice were forever being probed for contraband as he crossed the border.

            He was smuggling the rice.

            1. Diogenes

              Re: Hmm

              There is the old WW2 tale, possibly apocryphal, about the guy who on leaving the RAN station at Garden Island in Sydney always had his barrow loads of scrap checked fro contraband - he was stealing the barrows

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Hmm

              Yup. It reminded me of all these sorts of tales at the time. In fact there were suspicions about the pickup as engine & chassis numbers were missing. At the time there was a quantity of joinery products lacking known legal owners - window frames etc - in the police store where the pickup had been taken for examination. I wondered about those.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmm

              I knew someone who told me that, in his younger days, he used to travel frequently across the Irish border with a caravan. He was sometimes stopped and searched, but nothing untoward ever found.

              They never noticed that in one direction the curtains were hung by brass rings, but in the other direction a not-insignificant number were gold wedding rings.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm (Northern Irish connection)

          In the 90s (Before the NI ceasefire) I was on a project in Amsterdam, where I'd fly every week from the UK. Every other week the security bods at my local UK airport would ask me to open my luggage and prove my two alarm clocks were actual alarm clocks and not timing devices. (I carried two as I was *really* bad at early mornings and needed a fail-safe to get me out of bed and onto the client site!).

          Every time these same security bods must have known it was 'oh, him again' (Small airport!), but wanted to hear my tiny alarm clocks go off! Oh, and I have a very Irish surname.

          Ironically the return trip every week didn't involve any luggage searches for one of the substances Amsterdam is known for...

    2. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      Yeah I was thinking the same thing. Added to that, if they were regularly dropping off hundreds (or even dozens) of rolls of film, you'd expect the developer to know.

      It also strikes me as odd that a company would think nothing of spending an awful lot of money on film and development without either their own dark room facility, or understand the savings that would have come with an (even that expensive) digital camera.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        It also strikes me as odd that a company would think nothing of spending an awful lot of money on film and development without either their own dark room facility, or understand the savings that would have come with an (even that expensive) digital camera.

        Or sourced it out to a professional darkroom\processor. I know my uni had to send our film projects to a company in Detroit from Chicago. But I'm pretty sure the photog dept had their own darkroom.

        It does seem odd, but then again, maybe that cost was just passed along to the customer, and even with a markup?

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Develop your own and pussy!

          My experience of developing your own pictures to avoid questions from grown ups was curtailed when I was spooling the film onto the development cassette in total darkness only for it to be torn from my hands and shredded by the cat. The same cat who had broken my red light I used to use by lying on it until the glass overheated and cracked. I'm surprised its ghost doesnt appear on the few pictures I bother to take these days.

        2. MacroRodent Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          Or use a film scanner, removing the need to print the shots, saving money, and getting better quality. They probably already existed in 1990's.

          1. Youngone Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            Film scanners definitely existed in the 1990's. The company I worked for at that time owned two.

            Crossfield was the brand, made in the UK (if I remember properly) and they cost about $800,000 each.

            1. StargateSg7

              Re: Hmm

              We were scanning 8mm, 16mm, 35mm and 70 mm film using our own custom built Telecines by 1993 using high end Sony Betacam cameras. We could pan and scan the camera over the film and auto-stitch (using our in-house custom built software!) out to any resolution we wanted!.

              Since we used those fancy Fujinon lenses (only $35 000 USD at the time!), we could focus to our hearts content in pure cinema quality sharpness. The specific camera we used was a modded 720 by 480p (i.e. non-interlaced) Sony Betacam SP/DigiBeta camera when we digitized uncompressed at 30 megabytes per frame onto a Truevision Targa-32 Card AND later, the DPS Perception/DPS Velocity (we bought those later and I still have them!) The Sony CCD Cameras were GLOBAL SHUTTER so no lag since we scanned and averaged-together multiple frames at 6 frames per minute. It was slow BUT we found the system waaaaaaay outperformed a $500,000 Rank Cintel scanner in terms of resolution and colour quality.

              The images from film STILL look great even today in 2020 since we scanned them in 1990's to 2K, 4K and even 8K (for the 35mm and 70mm prints) at 24-bits per pixel progressive scan using stitching of multiple 720 by 480 passes! Since the SCSI Hard drives at the time were max only TWO GIGABYTES in size (i.e. not terabytes but rather TWO Gigabytes!) in 1993, we sometimes had HUNDREDS of them onsite and at $1800 USD per drive that was a LOT of money! I should note that we usually backed up the scanned imagery to Quantum/3M digital tape backup systems that could store 10 Gigabytes of data per tape.

              We did mostly corporate/government/specialty video work with the odd Hollywood product thrown in. And YES some corporate and government/military video projects in the 1980's and 1990's were done on Arriflex-765 cameras! (i.e. for 70mm projection at big corporate/government events!) Those types of single reel 20 minute film productions paid VERY NICELY !!!! Well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases! THAT was an awesome time to be a young DOP/Camera Operator!

              Nowadays, I can scan film in at 12K resolution with only a $10,000 camera setup at a full 24 fps speed (i.e. real-time) using a Blackmagic URSA 12k with incredible colour quality and ultra high resolution!

              How time flies!

              V

          2. the hatter

            Re: Hmm

            Film scanners were expensive, commercial devices though, at least ones that were worthy of the name. Need a chunk more precision to scan something the size of a 35mm slide vs an average-sized print.

            Obviously by this point, that company could have made good use, loading dozens of strips/rolls at a time into a feeder (more expense, but why would you not get one if you needed a film scanner) but I could well imagine their process had just grown a bit from sending the intern to Boots, and then having them spend an afternoon feeding photos into a flatbed scanner, which has a much lower starting cost, and probably not that much different in terms of running costs vs maintenance, so might be a tough sell to make the capital investment.

          3. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            They probably already existed in 1990's.

            They did. I used to have to teach students to use the one we had attached to a high-end (for 1994) Mac. They were expensive and as fiddly as fuck, a huge drain on my time.

          4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            You'd still have needed to get the film developed first, of course, and if you didn't have your own darkroom, that would mean taking them to Boots or A N Other film developer. If you tried scanning undeveloped film, you'd be getting an awful lot of all-black negatives.

            edit - I'm also thinking that you'd probably want to look at the prints first to decide which of the many you'd want to scan. My memory of scanners in the 1990s is that they were not fast. This is pre USB-1, so you'd be talking parallel port, or, if you were "lucky", and also rich, SCSI. At a couple of minutes a scan, you'd probably be talking days to scan several hundred shots.

      2. Paul Cooper

        Re: Hmm

        It also strikes me as odd that a company would think nothing of spending an awful lot of money on film and development without either their own dark room facility, or understand the savings that would have come with an (even that expensive) digital camera.

        Even the relatively small outfit (~400 employees; 2 photographers!) I worked for had it's own colour processing system.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        Not necessarily odd that they didn't develop & print in-house. It would depend how often a large amount of film needed to be developed & printed. If (as I suspect), their need was sporadic rather than continuous, then having an in-house facility that was big enough to cope with the large amounts would sit idle for 70% or 80% of the time while the company was doing things other than mass photo-shoots. It would be like buying an hydraulic car lift and paying a full-time mechanic just so that you could get your car's MOT done once a year.

        1. That 8 Bit Guy

          Re: Hmm

          My dad took stills at various movie studios and developed them himself in his commercial lab. I had lots of fun helping him carry the film in canisters to the studio executives and producers at Universal and Desilu.

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      Dont forget that Boots has form in this area. I seem to remember some celebrity getting dobbed in for a picture of themselves in the bath with the kids.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      Back in the mid-80's I was doing racing photography and occasionally some model work as a second job. I learned very quickly that photo processing places weren't to be trusted when I went in to pick up some work and found they'd printed some large photos to hang in the shop. I also learned from others that often, most photo shops had a "secret filing cabinet" in back for copies of the more.. shall we say "interesting" photos.

      After the photos being displayed (with out credit to me), I bit the bullet and bought the equipment to develop and print the photos myself. A lot less stressful and actually pretty enjoyable.

      1. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        Hmmm, what kind of a "model" were you?

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

    When we had a lot of audio and video cable to get into some outer sheaths that were almost but not quite too small for them. Some bright spark had the idea to drop into Boots and buy up their entire stock of KY Jelly...

    I don't recall it working too well; I can only assume that there was some reason why we couldn't use the usual Hellerman oil and honeymoon pliers (engineers of a certain vintage will know what I mean; to anyone else who may be offended I apologise in advance).

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

      I once raised my eyebrow... I was at supermarket\pharmacy in Chicago, and the two women and a gentleman behind me were buying mineral oil enemas and bourbon.... at 2 in the afternoon?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

        Hopefully the plan wasn't to find out if they blend ...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

      Cable pulling lube and KY aren't interchangeable ... For one thing, KY is water based, and you probably don't want that in your electrical equipment. Horses for courses & all that.

      As a side note, soap isn't a lubricant. It's a surfactant. You kiddies reading this might want to learn the difference before you do yourself an injury. Or worse, injure somebody else.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

        > soap isn't a lubricant

        Neither is WD-40, but people keep using it as one...

    3. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

      Pregnancy test, bottle of gin, couple of wire coat hangers. Always raises an eybrow.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

        Boots sold gin? Was that at the perfume counter?

    4. james_smith

      Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

      The KY Jelly thing reminds me of getting my first tattoo (a rather large one). The tattooist recommended getting haemorrhoid ointment to rub on it as it closes the pores, stemming any bleeding and reducing the scabbing. Since I have very little shame I actually quite enjoyed asking for the largest tub of Preparation-H they had, while loudly stating it was for a huge bloody mess and asking the sales assistant if the wanted a look. I think I'm destined to burn in hell.

    5. juice Silver badge

      Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

      > When we had a lot of audio and video cable to get into some outer sheaths that were almost but not quite too small for them. Some bright spark had the idea to drop into Boots and buy up their entire stock of KY Jelly...

      A friend has a similar tale, about buying large amounts of KY Jelly from Boots, to use when preparing to store his motorbike for the winter.

      My personal "best" was while staying in Whitby during the twice-annual goth festival. I'd become the proud owner of a drinking horn, and had a bit of time to spare, so decided to wander down to the shops to see if I could pick up some bits to improvise a belt holder for it.

      Handily, I found all the things I needed in a single shop; it wasn't until I happily trotted up to the counter with my purchases that I realised how it looked.

      After all, I was dressed in the standard goth boots+trenchcoat garb, and purchasing some razors, tie-wraps, glue *and* an XL dog-collar complete with chain...

      OTOH, I did manage to make a very nice belt holder, thankyewverymuch ;)

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

        More likely the shopkeep was thinking on the lines of "third time today..."

        (I grew up down the road near Scarborough, and the goth fest was always a brilliant laugh... Especially when an 80 something year old starts enquiring to a friend where she aquired her fishbone corsett and if it was possible to provide her details on the tailors of my shirt).

        1. juice Silver badge

          Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

          > More likely the shopkeep was thinking on the lines of "third time today..."

          To be fair, the person behind the till didn't bat an eyelid; WGW had been running twice a year for over a decade at that point, so they'd had time to get used to hordes of wierdos dressed in black.

          Alas, it wasn't too long after that that the goths became a tourist attraction in and of themselves, which in turn led to hordes of "professional" photographers clogging up the streets and taking photos of anything female with even a hint of cleavage. As well as lots of "weekender"[*] people dressing up in victoriana/steampunk gear, precisely because there were hordes of photographers. Which in turn attracted more photographers...

          All of which very much got in the way of us professionals, who just wanted to have a quiet hangover-cure breakfast in the old town before wandering back over the bridge to settle down for an extended drinking session ;)

          [*] Not that I've got anything against people dressing up and having a good time. But this shift towards a "fashion" show did have a measurable impact on the musical/community elements of the festival...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

      I once had to accompany a dc power engineer cabling in a multi floor dc's ups, and marvelled at the 3 fingered wonder of the hellerman stretchy thingy. I asked him what it was technically called as I could see a real use for it on some bike projects I was building, and he told me. And honeymoon pliers is most definitely a nicer term than what they called them.

      "Hellerman sleeve expanders" will save anyone the slightly red face I had trying to order some from the nice lady at my usual tooling suppliers...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

        I always assumed that the honeymoon came simply from Hellermann as 'sort of rhyming'. Though we were, of course, *very* polite and well-bred young engineers.

        In case anyone is still wondering what the hell we're talking about: https://www.canford.co.uk/Products/20636/55-601_HELLERMANN-SLEEVE-EXPANDER-TOOL-KIT

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Honeymoon pliers

          As a BBC engineer we called them [rhymes with Danny] stretchers - even my female engineering colleagues did.

          Yeah, not very PC but we loved puerile stuff.

          Honeymoon pliers is slightly nicer.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Honeymoon pliers

            Must have been a different bit of the Beeb - or a different time. I first came across 'em in News at TC in the late seventies.

    7. Zarno Bronze badge
      Devil

      Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

      I've managed to raise a few eyebrows buying nail lacquer for painting fishing jigs and inlaying dice.

      Nothing quite like going through the entire aisle muttering about matching colors, would they be more attracted to sparkly or plain, darn they discontinued that color, this would be really good for the 20 sided, oh how I wish there was neon yellow, etc, then getting to checkout with 10+ bottles and a thing of remover. Never gets old.

      Once got two of the mega-tubs of petroleum jelly as assembly lube for a 13B-DEI. Not sure what else was bought at the time, but it got a look.

      The latest eyebrow raise was buying 3 flat-packs and change of energy drink (discontinued flavor, insane cheap price...) at a Dollar Store, with the attendant having to get the manager to punch in the override for 77 identical items coming up.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

        IPA and sanitary towels....

        .... for cleaning printers! What did you think?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

          ...a waste of decent beer?

          1. Zarno Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

            Sadly, it's been a long time since I had a "decent" IPA. The trend in craft brews has been to over-hop to the point a rabbit would tell you to tone it down.

            I remember when a Dogfish Head 120 was "extreme", and now it's background noise.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: We did manage to raise eyebrows at Boots one time

        If you live somewhere where you raise eyebrows buying nail varnish as a male, I'd suggest moving out of Stepford...

  3. jake Silver badge

    By 1995 ...

    ... even Apple was selling digital cameras. There was a choice of prosumer gear that was perfectly capable of taking that kind of headshot, and professionals were already using them for test shots like those described. Granted, film was still better resolution than digital, and a primadonna like Kubrick might have insisted on it, but the writing was certainly on the wall.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: By 1995 ...

      if the price of the technology is so eyewatering your company is still avoiding it , Apple probably isnt going to be your first choice.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: By 1995 ...

      I presume that if you want to print out 2 shots per page per person as a visible body or close-up headshot you are going to need something a lot better than a camera capable of a maximum 640x480 resolution. At that time the Kodak Nikon or Canon DSLRs were great cameras, if only for the incredible Kodak Photoshop acquisition plugin that could render into black and white amazingly well on the fly.

  4. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    not me, but an admiral's daughter once had a spot of bother with the filth

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/julia-somerville-defends-innocent-family-photos-1538516.html

    1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Yeah, the witch hunt had already started by then. There was a time when a child with no clothes on could be an expression of innocence, if they were clearly not being abused. (Although Lewis Carroll ran into some trouble on that score.) Now it's automatically a crime. I even have photos of myself as a baby that could threaten my liberty, should the wrong people see them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Flame

        Do you remember a time before you risked getting locked up for your own baby photo?

        Pepperidge farm remembers.

        Best to pretend we all hatched fully-grown, with clothing on, and burn the evidence.

      2. KBeee Bronze badge

        In the UK you can legally marry at 16 (with provisos), go on your honeymoon and have lots of sex, but if you take a picture of yourselves doing it you will be guilty of child pornography.

  5. Jason Bloomberg
    Facepalm

    The over-reaching long arm of the law

    I had a friend who was a bus driver. One day he found a carrier bag containing 'recreational drugs' a careless passenger had left behind. Told to follow company procedures when he was back at the depot he dutifully trudged off to the local police station in his lunch break to hand them in.

    Where they held him for hours while giving him the third degree. The very obvious defence that "no dealer in their right mind would hand in their own drugs" cut no ice.

    He was eventually released and, having lost a driver for an entire shift, company policy changed and the police were never bothered over dodgy finds ever again.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: The over-reaching long arm of the law

      He was eventually released and, having lost a driver for an entire shift, company policy changed and the police were never bothered over dodgy finds ever again.

      Which was exactly what the police wanted, crime rates going down (or at least the official statistics) and they aren't bothered by this kind of nonsense they can't do anything about anyway.

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: The over-reaching long arm of the law

      Maybe he should have phoned ahead. "I'm a bus driver, found some drugs, wanna share?"

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: The over-reaching long arm of the law

        "Sure. You bring a couple of black guys we can throw down the stairs, CID will book the prossies, and we'll all have one hell of a party."

  6. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    great story

    But more of an On Call than Who Me.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3 times I've felt the long arm

    Twice for "cycling furiously" while overtaking the lines of nearly static cars on my 7 mile cycle into Polytechnic - no way was I doing over 30 in the face of oncoming, free flowing, traffic, but I think I was stopped just because it pissed off the car drivers too much. (There was a guy in an L reg, black, BMW who would often open his drivers car door a couple of inches when he saw cyclists overtaking. Not enough to hit us, but we had to slow down.)

    The other in the 1990's when my works was hit by a virus and I had a number of Peers, MP's and minor royals in my email address book. Special Branch wanted to know why I was attacking Parliament - apparently it went straight through their defences. My company owner came to my defence, saying that they had been fighting the virus the previous week while I was on vacation and had forgotten to put a note on my computer to tell me not to turn it on when I returned. (3 hours interrogation for me, and 3 for the company owner, and then without a further word "you are free to go".)

    How often a simple Post-It note could have saved a disaster?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

      A post it note is never ever read until the important work is done. It would have been ignored until the machine had been turned on and many emails read and sent. If you want someone to not turn a machine on then put a bullet in it.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

        Exactly that. No one looks at a post-it first thing.

        But a large A4 notice taped on to the Keyboard is a pretty good way to do it. (Yes, been there, done that).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

      "BMW who would often open his drivers car door a couple of inches when he saw cyclists overtaking"

      I used to ride my motorbike between two lanes of stationary traffic in rush hour. In a queue of a few hundred cars, one driver had deliberately positioned his car tight to those in the adjacent lane, to try to block bikers from getting past him. He didn't half blare his horn when his wing mirror snapped. ;-)

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

        I was riding through Belgium during the fuel strikes at the end of the 90s. The HGVs had parked diagonally across the lanes and then long queues of lorries and people protesting.

        As I as on the bike, I was just riding down the lane between the two lines of traffic that was stopped, when an HGV driver saw me coming and swung his cab door open at the last second, much too late for me to stop.

        There was a metal clunk and I twisted my head sideways and brought it down double-quick time onto the tank. That is when I found out that the height of my Honda VFR and my shoulders was a cm or 2 lower than the cab door!

        Another time, my brother was riding through London and he pulled to the front of a queue and the Vauxhall Omega wasn't very happy and was gunning the engine and honking at him. As the lights went green, my brother took off like a rocket and the Omega gave it welly as well. He let the Omega hang on to him up to 80mph (London Ringroad, so 30mph allowed), then at the last second, my brother dove into the other lane and stood on the brakes, the Omega shot past him and straight through a speed-camera, still doing 80mph, with the driver gawping out the side window at my brother.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
          Joke

          Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

          80 mph on bicycle?

          I want to ride it!

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

            Suzuki Bandit 1200cc

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

          That reminds me of the cow-orker who thought that it would be a good idea to try and race his 3-series against my Yamaha FZS-600 at the lights near work. That's the old model Fazer with the same engine as the R6. Needless to say, I had to gun it to avoid letting him cut me up, and accidentally popped a wheelie. Still got the front wheel down and was 200 yards down the road ahead of him before he'd got out of first gear...

          I think I worked out that if you want to have the same BHP/tonne as any generic 600cc motorbike you'd need to be driving something that costs well into 6 figures.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

        They certainly are solid things, the heels of biker boots.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

        "He didn't half blare his horn when his wing mirror snapped. ;-)"

        I'm not surprised. he was being a dick and potentially "obstructing the Queens Highway", but the biker caused criminal damage, ie it was deliberate.

    3. Lockdown Fatty

      Re: 3 times I've felt the long arm

      That is ridiculous. Did plod ever nick the BMW driver? I've had people complain about me legally overtaking traffic on my bike.

      However, recalling online complaints about bicycles slowing down traffic put a smile on my face as I passed a mile or so of stationary traffic heading into the City.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Many moons ago, maybe 1983 ...

    ... bright and early one fine morning I was on the roof of the old Ford Aerospace Building One on Fabian in Palo Alto, trying to re-align a new laser network link to a building across Hwy 101. I got tackled by a couple largish MPs ... Seems that some military big-wigs were about to arrive to inspect one of our satellites (a work in progress), and the two security guys heard someone talk about "jake's up on the roof with the laser, that should sort 'em out". Myself and the two talking about me were detained, taken to a small room & questioned. Seems the security detail wasn't all that versed in the power output of a 5mW HeNe laser, in their tiny little brains we were conspiring to roast the brass.

    We had the last laugh. The laser link was part of the demo that the brass was there to observe. We were "rescued" from the grilling after about an hour, and allowed to get on with it. The security guys got a very public dressing-down from a rather technologically cluefull Colonel (in full dress) for wasting his time ... After we concluded the demo, the Colonel sent the security guys to get pizza for lunch and sat & ate with us, discussing the ins & outs of "modern" wireless (laser) networking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many moons ago, maybe 1983 ...

      Early 90s one of the network guys at Sun Microsystems was working on satellite comms, and ended up being asked to demo some part of the setup at the White House. That led to him being stopped by White House security on his way up an access staircase to the roof, and asked what he was doing. At the time the easiest/cheapest way to get the required access for R&D was to rent it from the Russians, he really enjoyed the look on their faces when he said he was just going up to align a dish on a Russian satellite. They didn't know whether to laugh, or arrest him.

  9. Mark 78
    Paris Hilton

    Pics or it never happened?

    Paris icon obviously.......

  10. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    A few decades ago now .....

    ..... I was the IT support person at a large motor franchise garage in the South of England. And amongst my regular tasks was to do the month end switch over of our computer system, which involved me staying late to run lots of reports before setting the necessary flags.

    Once year, on the final day of March, I'm there VERY late at night running the reports, and I'd already changed back into my leathers ready to jump on the mo'cicle to go home. When I left at about half past midnight I did notice a car parked in the entrance of the industrial estate across the road and at that moment didn't think anything of it. I then headed off down a 30 limit doing something much closer to 100 ...... only to find a police car parked up at a roundabout a mile down the road waiting for me!!!!!

    Turns out that a member of Joe public had seen me walking around inside the building and reported it to the police, and the car parked over the road was an unmarked unit waiting for me to leave. I had to wait at the roadside for half an hour while they contacted a key holder to check that I had a valid reason to be there.

    At the time I was just glad that they made absolutely no mention of how quickly I'd managed to cover the mile from the garage to the roundabout.

    The following day I was informed by the key holder that they rang that if he'd realised that it was actually the first of April when they got him out of bed that I'd have been spending the night in the cells!!!

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Back in my day

    I remember film rolls very well. The whole development process was expensive, so you tried your best to make every shot count.

    Then there were the urban legends of photo developers taking copies of "interesting" pics for themselves. Maybe there was a bootleg market for racy pictures or something, I don't know.

    In any case, that door is now permanently shut. Everyone has their own camera and entire photo album in their pocket.

    So, instead, they post racy pictures of themselves on the Web.

    Progress ?

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Back in my day

      "Then there were the urban legends of photo developers taking copies of "interesting" pics for themselves."

      One of the science demonstrators at my secondary school used to work at a Super 8 lab. All the films were spliced together to run through the processing equipment. At the end of the line, where they were separated, there was usually a guy looking out for films with a certain predominant colour. Those bits got separated and screened during the technicians' lunch break. That's why 'interesting' movies usually came back a day later from the lab than routine fare.

    2. james_smith

      Re: Back in my day

      "Then there were the urban legends of photo developers taking copies of "interesting" pics for themselves."

      I posted below about a Summer job I had at a photo developers, and I can confirm that's exactly what happened there. Two guys ran the enormous machine that did the actual film developing, and they would run of copies off things like holidaying couples taking nude pictures of each other. Those two guys were as creepy as f*ck, and also as high as kites most of the time from the chemicals in the developing machine.

  12. big_D Silver badge

    Not me...

    Well, I didn't do anything wrong, but I was involved in an accident on a cold, rainy night - took a wide line off a roundabout in a Ford Sierra to avoid a moped rider and lost the back end on the white line on the outside of the corner. I ended up parking the Sierra squarely in the middle of a lamppost, or rather a lamppost squarely in the middle of the bonnet of the Sierra.

    The police sent out a patrol vehicle, but the only vehicle that was free was a Black Mariah (the old prisoner transport van). So my mate and me sat in the back, while the police called my brother (1 AM and he was in the middle of a training course to be an outdoor activity instructor, so he was dog tired). They eventually roused him out of bed and he came to collect us.

    The officer in the front turned to me and said, "he he, does your brother have a sense of humour?"

    I thought, "hmm, not a this time in the morning!" But, before I could answer, he had wound down the window and was talking to my brother.

    "Sorry, you'll have to wait a couple of minutes, we are just booking them for malicious damage to a lamppost!"

    My brother looked at him confused, before the officer and his colleague burst out laughing and let us out the back of the van.

  13. MarkET

    Boots and film

    Would have thought the digital Nikon D1, or the older E2/E2s, would have been the camera of choice for a movie studio in the late 90's.

  14. james_smith

    Between college and university I had a Summer job in a photographic film development place where we worked overnight, processing thousands of films for the likes of Boots. Every picture was scanned by a human as it whizzed past on a reel before being automatically cropped, and since it was such a mind numbing job, we'd all take turns at it with instructions on what we should look for.

    Mostly it was quality issues, where a sticker would be slapped on to say it was because the camera was out of focus and not a fault in the developing process, but we were also instructed to look out for anything involving obvious drug use, violence or sex where children were present. Over the course of the month I was working there we had to call the police four or five times, but thankfully I was not the one doing the checking when we had a reel of what turned out to be child porn.

    (We also had some saddo that would send in a film each week of what looked like pictures he had taken of grumble mags as he flicked through them in a newsagents).

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      I remember clearly, but wasn't film processing more expensive than jazz mags?

      1. james_smith

        I assume it was less embarrassing to discreetly photograph the choice bits of smut and then take the film to Boots than it was to walk up to the counter and buy some rhythm literature. This was prior to the world wide web and the much more anonymous access to skin pics.

  15. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

    I had a awkward long wait in a chemists and a animated public chat with the police once when on a short contract in the UK.

    My henious crime was that I had been instructed by my better half to stock up on teething gel for my toddler whilst in the UK and flying back home to France with it, and grabbing enough to last hopefully until he was past it. Apparently the usual target for buying lots of teething gel were junkies and I must have looked like one.

    Even as they let me go, they were still being crappy about it. "You shouldn't buy these quantities, its not permitted". I'm not sure where the limit for buying 10 tubes of infant teething gel was defined but decided that life would be easier if I just nodded and said I knew for next time.

  16. Uplink

    Just a murder

    One of the customers of the tiny ISP I was working for had been murdered. My phone appeared in the call logs, so I was cordially invited to the police station to ask me about my whereabouts. They asked if I had had a call with the victim, but I totally forgot I did, and I said no. That prompted them to call me in again (somehow they didn't know about the call the first time, so I got to walk home across town only to be asked to walk back), and be accused of lying. Then it dawned on me that about half a year before I received one call from the victim about his Internet access. We never met in person. And when I mentioned that to the cop he appeared surprised that it was so long ago.

    I'm guessing they were experts in murder investigation if it took me two trips to the station for them to find out those crucial details.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a murder

      "Sign up to Bofhnet, our customers never have any complaints, we absolutely guarantee it!"

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Just a murder

      "That prompted them to call me in again and be accused of lying."

      I'm not surprised. The call logs told them he'd called you. You said he hadn't. What do expect they should have thought?

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Just a murder

      I'm guessing they were experts in murder investigation if it took me two trips to the station for them to find out those crucial details.

      It wasn't the West Yorkshire Police was it? If it was, it sounds like they were more on the ball than usual.

  17. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Sorry I just don't buy it.

    Back in those days there were plenty of professional photo developers and printers catering to this market. Boots just weren't geared to printing from 1000+ individual negatives. Plenty of other labs would have been not only geared up for that sorry of work but would also have been quicker and cheaper.

    The story also suggests that Boots were going to hand print from 1000+ individual negatives in two hours. Not happening in that timescale I'm afraid.

    And as had already been suggested somebody used to operating on that scale would probably have had their own lab. Or at least a dedicated subcontractor. The company I worked for at the time had our own lab and print unit.

    And there's no such thing as porn police.

    Not only are there bits of the story that don't really add up, but it's also a bit too similar to the "newsreader takes photos of named toddler in bath, boots report her to plod" story for my liking.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cops and users

    Back around the same era, I was working at a small ISP. If you worked at an ISP in those days, you had to keep your Usenet spools from getting too huge. That often meant giving up on all of the binearies (I think I misspelled it correctly) newsgroups. Those were newsgroups that contained binary files, as opposed to simple text (oh, and some were under "binaries" as well). Even if you weren't spooling the content, a look through the logs made you realize you had some users whose sexual preferences leaned to the wrong side of legal.

    One day the inevitable happened. A police officer showed up at our door asking to connect an IP address to the identity of the person who was logged in at a specific time. We asked (nicely) that they request using a warrant, so that we were covered legally. The next day, they came back with a warrant, and left with a name.

    Years later, I found out what triggrred the request. Kiddie porn? Nope. Sharing copyrighted material? Nah. Email scam? No. Turned out the perpitrator had posted disparaging comments about some local officers to a web page somewhere.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: cops and users

      disparaging comments about some local officers

      In other words, the truth.

  19. swm Silver badge

    2 dollar bills

    My father had a salesman who would always get a stack of $2 bills before going out on a sales trip. He would use these bills to tip etc. on the theory that he would be remembered.

    Well, the local police found he was passing "counterfeit" $2 bills and collected him from his hotel where he was staying and interrogated him and left him in a room without door knobs. Eventually, an expert from a bank came and declared all of the bills were legitimate.

    The police did profusely apologize though.

  20. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Finger caught

    I was 17, still living at my parents, working in a micro-component clean room. Mum took me aside and started giving me 'the sex talk', and I froze because I wasn't sure what she knew about what I'd been up to. She ended with, "I'm not judging you but I found these in your jeans."

    I collapsed laughing on the floor in relief. It was fifty finger cots, latex finger coverings for the clean room that looked like tiny condoms. We had to put them on and off every time we entered the clean room. My mum had either never seen a condom or thought I had a dick like a pinkie and yet screwed like a rabbit.

  21. JonW

    Is no one going to mention...

    "...RAID array..." ?

    _twitches_

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Is no one going to mention...

      PIN number <evil cackle>

    2. Psmo Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Is no one going to mention...

      DNS Service

    3. TSM

      Re: Is no one going to mention...

      That would be redundant.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021