Northern Male on the benefits of Opening Up “Channel D”

The women in my life have regularly shone by example. From close family members, to fleeting smiles to me on the train by female strangers – they have all shown a gentleness, trust and generosity of spirit. As a consequence I’m right there.

I’m in France as I write this as I’ve taken myself away to sort my head out. I walked into a small bakery today. Behind the counter was a lovely lady. We were alone in her shop and neither of us spoke the other’s language or had ever met. I got out my schoolboy French and she smiled.

As she explained her goods for sale I could see a kindness in her eyes and immediately knew she was on my side. There was laughter at my rubbish communication skills and our misunderstandings.

I left with my bread sticks, a wave, and a mutual “au revoir” which left me with smile on my face all the way home. A man would rarely have had the same effect. I wanted to hug her. She opened Channel D.

Women can be wonderful listeners and sometimes that’s all it takes. Spotting when to be quiet and listen is key – a skill which is increasingly rare.

And then there are children. Every mother knows the power of a mother’s love. There is also a father’s love which is equally powerful. I would die for my daughter but I gave her up when I divorced because that was what I was told to do and the custom. I’d done nothing wrong. Just be a man. Recently my daughter sent me pictures of my 7 year old grandson playing football. I witness his progress from afar and miss him – but today it’s only distance that keeps us apart and love that binds us together.

On the front desk of the police station where I work, I’ve dealt with lots of folk in relationship breakdowns who are worried about their children. Each thinking the other is taking them away.

“Every night a baby dies. Every night a mama cries.

What makes those men do what they do?

To make that person black and blue?”

Chris Rea’s lyric from his heartbreaking song “Tell Me There’s A Heaven” makes me weep and rage in equal measure.

My police division has a Safeguarding Unit with responsibility for investigating domestic violence. I’ve helped these officers deal. They’re stressed, overworked and over-run.

“I blame the parents” is an old adage sadly still relevant in 2020 from wherever you are or come from. I don’t think I need to quote statistics. You only need to switch on the news.

If you’re reading this, you’ll almost certainly have been brought up in a stable, happy environment as your forbears instilled values you still carry and pass on to others. But for every Yin there is a Yang.

If the stork dropped you into a rundown northern council estate, the chances of you meeting poverty and physical violence are much greater than if its beak released you into Belgravia. We know this.

But when Charles Saatchi was photographed holding Nigella Lawson by the throat outside a London restaurant, this shocking newspaper image sent a simple and stark message.  

It can happen to anyone, anywhere at any-time.

Let’s be crystal here. Domestic violence happens across all social and cultural divides. The king in his foreign castle is as likely to take his hand to his queen as Bill Sykes did to Nancy.

As a man I feel shameful about this even though I’ve never used my strength against a woman and never will. But many frustrated men do because explaining how they feel to their partner and talking this through is not an option for them.

So bruised, bleeding and tear-stained women have stood at my desk and openly crumpled in front of me. How much courage did it take to do that? Apparently only 1 in 33 women suffering domestic violence are brave enough to come forward.

So what can you do? Well the good news is you probably already have. By opening “Channel D”.

Finally there is laughter. As you might have discovered from reading my nonsense, I love to make people smile as well as think, and from many years on this particular planet I’ve discovered it’s a powerful tool.

If you read autobiographies as I do, you’ll have come across occasions where funny people have discovered making the bullies smile has rescued them from a beating in the playground.

This works – and even if you don’t think humour is what you can do, I would suggest you try even if it is just a smile. We all have the ability to lift the day of another and change their perception of both you and themselves.

I’m very proud to work for West Yorkshire Police. Our former Chief Constable Dee Collins has retired for health reasons. She’s had breast cancer in the past. Dee has been exemplary in her role as leader of our force and is a woman who has the same understanding of how to deal as the lady in the patisserie. She was well known to her staff for her monthly blogs written with honesty and a passionate understanding of the pressure. Despite her lofty position it’s obvious everyone with her was happy and glad to have met this small, positive powerhouse of a women who truthfully gave a damn. 

Our force has benefitted hugely by having this lady at its helm in such turbulent times. She’s been a shining example and is missed. Ma’am you have the respect of all your Force – and all our hopes.

Dee opened Channel D. So what does D stand for?

In the 1960’s TV series “The Man From Uncle” this was never clearly explained by Napoleon Solo as played in a very sharp suit by Robert Vaughn.   

He and David MacCallum’s Illya Kuryakin took out their pen-pocket communicators to talk with their boss Alexander Waverley in Geneva, as female hearts fluttered in this US ratings winner.

“Open Channel D” was their communication code.

Today we can only look back at these times of the Cold War and guess what it stood for.

Today, in my eyes, it stands for Decency.