AND so another little bit of Squinter’s life gets set to pass into history. The familiar Land Rover Tangi has been part of the West Belfast landscape for as long as Squinter can remember – battleship-grey in RUC days, poke-van gaudy in its present PSNI incarnation.
But all good things must come to an end, and so it is with heavy heart that Constable Trevor prepares to bid farewell to the workhouse in the battle against those evil terrorists. The slamming of the Tangi’s heavy doors signalled the start of many a painful night in Castlereagh for the citizens of West Belfast and beyond.
But the Tangi – aka ‘the Domino’s Express’ – is about the same age as the Hillman Avenger now, and you don’t see many of them on the streets. Spare parts can only be got at car boot sales and military memorabilia auctions and therefore most of the Tangis still in operation are chugging along thanks to large amounts of duct tape and solder. So it is that the new Land Rover Pangolin is being phased in to take the place of the Tangi.
Squinter never knew what the word Tangi meant and it seems that nobody in the PSNI did either because press office inquiries down through the years only ever yielded a grunted ‘Wha’?’ There are three Tangis in the world according to Google – in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan – but none is twinned with Knock, as far as Squinter can ascertain. Happily, the new Land Rover’s name is an open book. Say hello to the Land Rover Pangolin ALR Mk IV.
A pangolin is a sub-genus of the anteater with incredibly tough scales found mainly in southern Africa and the Asian subcontinent. Land Rover – armour; pangolin – tough scales. Geddit? Anyway, according to Wikipedia, the pangolin spends most of its time curled up in a ball sleeping, emerging at night to feed. You can just go ahead and think of your own jokes at this point.
To the lay person, there’s not much difference between the Tangi and the Pangolin, but the Trevors are revelling in the improvements. It’s still built around Land Rover’s heavy-duty 110 chassis, but it has a state-of-the-art Puma diesel engine, a six-speed gearbox and – alleluia! – air-conditioning. Inside the old Tangi it was famously hotter than a tin gospel hut in August – something of which Squinter has personal experience, but he’s not saying how or why. So you won’t be seeing the Pangolin idling at traffic lights in the summer with the front and back doors held open by Trevors panting like Alsatians.
As for that vehicle to the left, pictured off the Springfield Road recently with the new Pangolin, well... your guess is as good as Squinter’s. A good number of them have been spotted about West Belfast of late and where the PSNI got them is a total mystery. They look as though they should be painted in zebra stripes and patrolling a safari park. A colleague suggests that they are recommissioned UDR Land Rovers, but Squinter seems to remember those things had the spare tyre on the roof and not the grill.
Perhaps a phone call to Mister Jeremy Clarkson is in order.