The Way We Were

Sadly, this has absolutely nothing to do with Barbra Streisand.

It occurred to me in a moment of self-pity and reflection the other day, that I will have been retired from the MPS 11 years this summer.  Much has changed in that 11 years, probably a lot more than I could ever imagine.

So I thought I would take a moment to share with some of our colleagues who may be a fair way away from the finishing line (and getting further away every year it seems) that it hasn’t always been thus,  In the good old, bad old days we were allowed to enjoy ourselves and work in an environment that made it a pleasure to come to work, something to be looked forwards to, not dreaded.

So I will regale you with a couple more amusing anecdotes from my none too illustrious career.

One of my first ever Team Sergeants  was called Bob.  Bob had a sense of humour alright and didn’t always see eye to eye with the management.  Sunday, Early Turn, obligatory old lady arrives at front counter carrying a cardboard box.  Bob was Station Officer that day so he put out his fag, and shuffled across to the front counter and asked said old lady what he could do to help her.  She informed him that she had found a pigeon, injured in the road, and that she thought it had a broken wing.  “I want you to look after it properly” she said “I know what you Policemen are like, you’ll take it out the back and run it over as soon as I’m gone”  Anyway Bob assured her that this pigeon would not meet that particular fate and that he would cherish it fondly.  So as soon as she had gone he rummaged around his desk and took out a polythene Prisoners Property bag and some string.  He carefully fashioned a parachute from the bag and attached it to the pigeon’s body with some of the string.  He then ascended in the lift, off to the roof, to teach it to fly again.  Well the first launch didn’t go too well, so he came down, retrieved pigeon and set off for the roof again.  Unfortunately, something that never happened then happened.  The Chief Superintendent came into the nick to check the books.  Just as he was examining the Dogs Found book a perfectly formed pigeon floated past the window on a parachute.  “Bloody Hell” said he “Could have sworn I saw a pigeon on a parachute.  Must be that Sergeant G***** fucking about again”  Not another word on the subject was ever mentioned.

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At the end of the year it was time for my 1 year Probationary Appraisal with the same Chief Superintendent.  I sat down opposite him and he read my report.  I must say that it was not a very good one.  Every time he made an observation about my failure to progress or to take on board what I had been told I felt obliged to challenge him and let him know that I vehemently disagreed with this Appraisal.  After about 20 minutes of this he finally exploded and said “Bloody Hell, you’ll be telling me next that your name isn’t even Smith”  “No Sir, it isn’t” was my immediate response, at which point he leant back in his chair, rested against his filing cabinet and fell on the floor because someone from the Night Duty shift had burgled his office and moved the filing cabinet, knowing that was his practice.  I didn’t laugh, honest.

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Finally, in the early 80s our Chief Inspector Ops was talking to one of the PCs on my Team.  He knew that Stuart had family back home in Wiltshire who had a farm.  Always on the lookout for a bargain he said to Stuart “I think I fancy something other than Turkey for Christmas this year, any chance you could get me a goose next time you go back home?” “I should think so” said Stuart “I’ll see what I can do”.  The weeks passed and eventually Stuart went home to Wiltshire for the weekend.  He came back, good as his word, with a goose for the Chief Inspector.  He placed it carefully in the Chief Inspector’s office and closed the door.  Yes, that’s right, it wasn’t dead.  Chief Inspector came in at 9am, opened his office to find one very angry goose and his corres trays filled with goose crap and feathers.  That was the last time he asked for a favour like that.

Stories such as these were 10 a penny in the 80s and 90s.  The Job was FUN.  Don’t get me wrong, the Job got done, but we worked hard and we played hard, and there were nowhere near the demands on our time and services as you get now.  If we handed over 6 incomplete messages at the end of a shift there was all hell to pay, I suspect that it’s different now.

We must never lose sight of the fact that our Police Officers are human beings too, and as such need to let off steam. They have a sense of humour, quite a good one in my opinion, but not necessarily to everyone’s taste. I liken it to taking the top off a bottle of fizzy drink that’s been shaken vigorously, much better to do it in a slow, controlled manner than all in one go. So if you’re reading this DPS/PSD/Policy Makers don’t be too hard on our lads and lasses, they’ll do their job for you, just let them have some fun along the way, and who knows?  You might get less stress-related illnesses.

Anyway, I trust you enjoyed the amusing anecdotes, I may find some more another day.  Truth or fiction? I’ll leave you to decide.

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