THERE is an ad currently running on TV which shows a typical English high street – but with a difference.

It has been Americanised with horses and hitching posts featured. The little boy being trundled along is in a cowboy outfit complete with Stetson hat and his mum – or should that be mom? – has a lasso hanging from one of the handles of the pushchair.

Police officers walk with a swagger in their tall black boots. Could this be a picture of the future? Yes it could, especially if a massive American military-industrial corporation has its way.

Texas-based KBR, which helped to build the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, is pitching to play a role in running British police.

Up for grabs is the largest police privatisation scheme in the UK. The �1.5b (how much is that in dollars?) joint contract from the West Midlands and Surrey forces is intended to transform the way policing operates.

But one upshot could be that functions such as patrol, detention and investigation traditionally carried out by the boys in blue could become the responsibility of a private company closely linked to the War on Terror and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So what will we be hearing on the streets of our towns and cities in years to come? Will the familiar “’ello, ’ello, ’ello, what do we ’ave ’ere?” be replaced by the drawling “Hi y’all, what’s going on around here?”

I wonder what officers would have made of the peculiar case last month of the missing penguin and the drunken Welsh tourists in Australia.

One of the partying visitors woke to find a penguin – by the name of Dirk – flapping about in his walk-in wardrobe – and he had no idea how it got there.

But the truth came out in court. After consuming a large amount of vodka, the two boyos had broken into Sea World, swam with dolphins and set off a fire extinguisher in a shark enclosure before p-p-p-picking up the penguin and taking it off to their hotel.

The next day, they abandoned Dirk in a park where he was at risk of being eaten by a shark. But a passer-by alerted Sea World which rescued him.

An idea of just how much the bird suffered was given in a sort of victim impact statement by Sea World’s marine sciences director who said: “You could see he was upset. His chest was heaving. He’d been through quite an ordeal.” Poor thing.

Some think it is the best sport ever, just the thing to soothe your cares away, but fishing has always bored me.

So I felt justified when I read about the All England Squid Championships held in Brighton last week when 73 of the 74 competitors caught nothing while spending five hours stood on a chilly, windswept seafront.

The winner was the one who managed to snare a creature measuring barely a third of an inch long which at first he mistook for a piece of debris.

What did he get for his trouble? A fishing rod worth a little over 200 squid.