A funny thing happened to me on the way to the office!
I was on the way to my early turn shift as Custody Sergeant at Chiswick Police Station. I was travelling north along the A3 on my motor cycle and entered the Robin Hood RAB. I saw a car was spinning towards me on its roof. I braked and managed to avoid it. I went to help and found a woman on the floor complaining about her lower back. There was a bearded man who I did not recognize standing by the car. There was another male arrived, who was the owner of the stables, whose fence had been demolished by the lamp standard hit by the car.
I exchanged pleasantries with this bearded male about dangerous driving and speed and in particular the danger to me. I still did not recognize him. Other police arrived followed by the mumbling armpit. I left for duty at Chiswick and I said to my fellow sergeant that I thought I recognized the bearded male. The lunchtime newspaper had an article saying that Ringo Star and Barbara Bach had had an accident and an off duty Police officer had given him a hard time which was witnessed by the stable owner.
What a bugger I thought, I did not get his autograph.
Great to see the pictures from Adrian showing our prowess at cricket in the website gallery. A little known fact is that we invented 20/20 cricket at TDV and, for those who did not play in those epic matches, the rules were as follows:-
1 - everyone (except the wicket keeper) bowled two overs
2 - you batted for 20 overs.
If everyone was out you started again until 20 overs had been bowled These rules made for highly entertaining games. You will appreciate that not everyone can fully co-ordinate their bowling arm with their brain so it was not unusual to see a batsman running several feet away from his crease to hit a ball that was more than a little wide, or trying to hit a ball that was some distance above his head. It also meant that there was no boring stuff like like forward defensive strokes being played - every shot was meant to be a six, although very few ever were. We also knew that the game would last a fixed time and give everyone a good run out.
Another little known fact that has just surfaced from depths of my ever shortening memory is that I bought a load of pads and gloves at a very cheap rate - I think about £20 in total. It was only when we got them did we find that they were all left-handed. However, this was only a minor problem as the chances of getting hit on the legs or hands were only very slight - and we did look the part!! Does anyone have photos of the garage sports? Does anyone remember the unicycle or riding the quad bike through (under?) the river?
Can you lead a horse to water?
I had worked with Rob Tutchings over the course of 17 years at TDV and through three collective marriages (two for him and one for me) and on reflection, probably spent more time in his company than any other person. During those years I got to know his strengths and weakness and he, mine. Horses where not his favourite animal and it fell to me to take the lead, whichever seat I was in, if the call involved an equine. It was either by luck or misfortune that, as a crew, we took a disproportional high number of horsey calls.
One winters morning, the A3 was crawling and slipping to a standstill at the junction of Upper Richmond Road. It was bloody cold and the road had a veneer of ice. Rob and I were dispatched in the old Range Rover OV26 to resolve the problem and get London back to work. Making progress, with lights and two tones, we were able to “offside” almost the whole of West Hill. In any rush hour that was indeed unusual. Close to the Fire Station, we saw the reason for the impasse. A Young’s Brewery dray was straddling the two westbound lanes and the rubberneckers were crawling eastward and inspecting the strange sight. Major was an experienced dray horse and knew the brewery routes. Sharing the shafts was Minor, a young horse that was serving his apprenticeship under Major’s tutorage. In a similar vein to the Met system of pairing old with young, the Brewery was finding the same problem as the Met, where wild enthusiasm was pitted against wisdom or sloth. Major knew that, if the dray-man steered to climb West Hill, there was a long slow hard slog to the Pubs off the Common. If he headed to Putney, the route was short, flat and easy. Major was in charge and knew where he wanted to go. Minor, however didn’t care and would follow, blindly, the instructions given via the reins, just like a young probationer.
Despite the vocal encouragement of the Dray-man and frequent flapping of the reins, Major, on the left shaft, wanted to turn right and Minor on the right was determined to go left. We arrived to see both horses having a dispute that involved much Lipizaner like prancing that caused ice chips and iron shoe sparks to fly. The dray-man was perplexed as he dare not turn the dray around and face the brewery as Major would be off back to his stall like a racehorse and he had spent the last half hour watching the confrontational shenanigans of the two horses. To keep his job, the dray-man had only one route. Forwards and upwards. Two traffpols in a two-ton, 4X4 would tow anything on their roads, so the answer was easy. Shackle them up and we’ll give them a pull.
It was one thing saying it and a completely different thing to do. Shire horses are bloody big and after half an hour of tangoing they were sweaty beasts with a great deal of attitude. Rob confidently attached the tow-rope to the Range Rover and presented me with the other end. I looked to the dray-man and he confidently raised the reins and implied that my licence didn’t cover his class of vehicle. I crouched and edged forward. The hoofs were huge and were reinforced with thick, shaped iron. They also moved randomly up and down as the horses’ danced and then slid on the icy road. Nearer and nearer I moved towards the chain shackle that united the two horses. Hot breath was blown over my geltex jacket and I felt globules of horse sweat or spit land on my neck. I carefully looped the tow chain over the shackle and snapped it closed. That, for Major, was the final straw and for Minor the starting gun. Both horses resumed their dance macabre. I dropped the tow chain and that further noise spurred them to try harder. The dray-man, luckily, was quick witted and released the brakes and both horses were jerked backwards and stopped. I bolted forwards and clambered towards the safety of the open road. I quick thumbs up to Rob and the slack was taken up and Major and Minor were given a bit of direction and assistance. The two horsepower “assisted” procession was off and away and the congestion was cleared. However as I walked between the Range Rover and horses I had time to watch the expressions of the great motoring public. To some there were smiles of incredulity and others reacted as though this was a commonplace event. To Rob and I, it was another story with which we could bore our family and friends
TDV was a very happy garage. This was probably because for most of the time it ran in spite of the senior officers and not because of them. The canteen was where quietly fought darts matches contrasted with noisy card games. If we had had next door neighbours John Ross would certainly have received a noise abatement order. Don't forget the sailing team, courtesy of Commander King and Ravens Ait and the hard fought battle against the RAF. This gave some garage members a lifelong interest in sailing. It was certainly the only garage where the troops were supplied with tea and ham rolls by the breakdown crew governor.(during a protracted accident and closure on the Esher Bypass.) You ask for memories of the garage. For me they tend to be the silly things with an element of that special laid back police humour that is not found in other walks of life.
For instance, the memory of Ken Oberg who, being Welsh, was sometimes difficult to understand and at the same time often seemed to find difficulty in understanding English. After taking details from a motorists driving licence he said, " Now listen carefully Mr. Embey, you will be....." The motorist interrupted crossly, "Listen officer, my name is Jackson. M.B.E. is my decoration" Ken replied, "Please don't interrupt, just listen to me Mr. Embey, You will be reported for ...."
Another memory is driving through a country lane in Cobham and coming across a large estate car with the rear door open and with smoke curling up from it. The windows were smoke blackened and four well dressed gents were standing on the verge. "It's all right ,officer", said one. "The car caught fire but we put it out." I asked, "Anyone hurt?" and as I did so noticed the unmistakeable figure of a person lying on the verge under a blanket. I immediately assumed they had either lost control and run someone over or one of their number had been hurt in the fire. "Is he alright?" "Yes, we managed to get him out okay" "Why is he covered up?" "We're undertakers, officer. He's dead, His funeral is tomorrow, he's going to be cremated". Another is of needing to close the Bypass at Copsem Lane because of an accident and on going to the large locker on the roundabout which held the equipment finding a tramp was sound asleep inside with all his belongings. As he was filthy and we had better things to do we left him there. Never say the police haven't got a heart.
My most embarrassing memory concerns the time on night duty when, as it had quietened down by 3 am I slipped into a small camp bed in the Inspectors office removing trousers and shoes to be more comfortable. I was awakened by a phone call from Wimbledon nick which wanted the A.T.S. out of order signs which were kept at the garage. Being nice and comfy I made the excuse that I might have to go out and told them I would leave them outside on the forecourt for collection. I slipped down and carried them out to lean them against the fence but as I did so the side door clicked shut behind me. (The large sliding door was already locked shut) Dressed in shirt and pants I considered my alternatives. First I took my epaulettes off as I realised these wouldn't help. I thought of pretending to be a solitary jogger and running to the nearby police station where I knew they kept a spare key, but that would have given foot duty an endless superiority over Traffic Patrol. I then climbed on the window sill to see if I could reach the top and was surprised on looking over the painted part of the glass to see a figure asleep in the Garage Sgt's chair. What a relief. Unbeknown to me the night duty were 'resting their eyes' after their refreshments and to my relief were able to let me in. Thus tragedy was averted.
Immortality lives in words
People are normally remembered for events that left a mark on the world but, at TDV, we remember people for other achievements. One man will always be remembered for his verbal belly flops into the pond of life. Dave Springle was a governor, to whom, TDV meant something and those that knew him must accept that he kept the garage open far longer than the protozoic senior management teams really wanted. However, despite his fervour for TDV, he had a failing that undermined his good intentions. In “The Rivals” Sheridan called them malaprops. At TDV, they were spronglisms. Everyday, we hung on his every word, waiting for the inevitable gaff. Some were priceless. When he was riled, he went straight for the jaguar. When AIDS was becoming a Health and Safety issue we were warned of the dangers of becoming HGV positive. On delivery of a Harley on evaluation, we were asked to treat the Harley Ferguson with respect.
However, few of these verbal own goals were as public as one hot June day in 1992. Steffi Graf was on course to win the All England Lawn Tennis Championship and so was Andre Aggassi. In the spotlight of global sports press coverage there were also rumours that the potential champions were dating. This news opened the floodgates to the tacky feeding frenzy that is the tabloid press. The refined gardens of SW19 were alive with photographers that were to become famous as “the paparazzi”.This was a relatively new word to the English then and not so commonplace as it is today. However, the Met Police were at a loss has to how to deal with people who would secret themselves in to hedgerows in private properties and invade others privacy via a telephoto lens. As the Wimbledon fortnight progressed, so did the cunning of the paparazzi as they learnt the lie of the land surrounding the Tennis club. Finally matters came to a head.
Together, the famous couple left the safety of the All England Ground, in a chauffeur driven Mercedes. Their progress along Church Road was frantic, as the baying press pack pursued on foot in to Victoria Drive. They then decanted into cars and bikes for the final wacky race along the A3. Things got so bad that the driver feared for his life and dialled 999. Police on the Tennis serial knew nothing about the call as they were not monitoring channel 12, but the crew of OV26 confirmed a press posse stampeding west from Tippets as they travelled east. The Met reacted swiftly to this outrageous harassment and, the next day, Insp. Springle arrived to brief the Wimbledon Traffic Serial of the contingency plans that had been formulated. Foot duty serials would be deployed to the temporary rented homes used by the players and they would call, via R/T, to the traffic squad, whenever the players were to move. If the traffic squad were needed during any refreshment break, the warning would be given over the tannoy system at the remote temporary police compound.
During the lunch refreshment period the air resounded to the voice of Insp |Springle stating, “ The pepperoni are in Steffi’s bush”. The bikes didn’t deploy. They couldn’t move for laughter
The Horse and the PC
A 'certain offffffficer' went to the Magic Roundabout in Mitcham. He spied a local 'caravan dweller' riding a horse bareback, over a bridge at Commonside East. The horse was being galloped at a fast pace and whipped with the reins. The horse wavered from side to side, frightening pedestrians especially a woman and child. (although the proverbial Nun with a, pram was not there). The traffic officer not showing a morsel of fear steeped out and stopped the Horse and rider. The officer noticed that the horse (which was sweating badly), had been ill used and it had spread a plate (a horse shoe had come loose). Whilst standing on the common reporting the miscreant for 'riding a horse to the common danger'. the local area car passed and told him that the rider (a Mr Penfold), was wanted on warrant at Wallington Court.
The prisoner was taken to Mitcham Police Station by the area car, followed by the officers posted mate. Yes you guessed it, leaving the 'certain officer' to ride the horse across the common to the nick. This he did with aplomb, tying the horse to the railings of the charge room ramp (for some reason the Station Officer did not want the prisoners property in the charge room) The man was charged with riding to the common danger and duly appeared at the said court, pleading not guilty. The court filled with officers who came from afar, to witness this major case. A 'not guilty' plea was taken. Evidence was given, with the ultimate skill of a Black Rat. Question by the defendant : As a Traffic Officer, you know nothing about horses?
PC: Yes I do, I worked at Epsom Police Station, where they deal with horses of all types.
Question by the court: Can you explain what is a spread plate?
PC: One of the horses shoes, had come loose.
Q: How did you know?
PC: You could hear it.
Q. What does it sound like? PC (after careful thought): Well your Worships, you get five clops instead of four. In other words every now and then you hear a clink clop! Then the whole court including the officer, but with the exception of the Defendant and Mr Hicks the Court Inspector, burst into uncontrollable laughter. Mr Penfold was convicted and fined £10 with costs. The officer leaves court, to the ribald comments of his fellow offices. This story proves that Black Rats are professional, and adaptable in all situations.
Things you never hear a senior officer say:
"And this bank holiday we're going to have maximum cover."
"Actually, we've under spent this year."
"You want which day off? Relax, take the whole week."
"Look, I know you're understaffed today, let me take a car out on patrol."
"I'm on my way to a sudden death assignment, right now."
"We're not interested in statistics, just the welfare of our officers."
"You know, these new management techniques are a complete waste of time." "Can I get you a cup of tea?"
Things you never hear a CID officer say:
"Of course I'll interview your prisoner."
"That seems like a complex case, I'm sure you're too busy, let me deal with it."
"I'll go first."
"I'll cancel my grub break and help you out with that case."
"Can I help you with any of that paper work?"
"No really, we've nothing on at the moment. Leave it for us to deal with."
"There's obviously a pattern emerging here. We'll do some observations for you."
"Can I buy you a drink?"
"We'll be in a 5am tomorrow."
"I'm late shift this Saturday, if you need me I'll be in the office."
"Do you want some CID cover on night shift?"
"Actually drinking interferes with my fitness regime."
Things you never hear a uniformed officer say:
"We've arrested the man who stole your car."
"No, no, I'm sure that's our area, we'll go."
"I know just where I left the cones and signs. I'll collect them before the end of my tour of duty."
"There's no need to put petrol in the car, I've already topped it up."
"Actually, I'm feeling a lot better, I think I'll come in today."
"That sounds like an interesting assignment, I'll go."
"Actually, I love patrolling with a special, they're a valuable part of the service."
"I find the cold so invigorating, I think I'll park up and do some foot patrol."
"Would you like me to go to that domestic?"
"You're right, it is a police matter."
"My reports were submitted ages before they were due."
"The thought of getting out of this job early on a medical pension leaves me cold."
"No, seriously, I'm very interested in the very personal, detailed and extensive history of the domestic circumstances leading up to this incident."
Things you never hear a dog handler say:
"It's all right, he won't bite."
"No really, the conditions are perfect."
"No not at all, we love tracking in the rain."
"Actually I'm just round the corner, I'll be there in a minute."
"It seems he walked away from the scene of the crime, no suggestion of a vehicle at all." "Nobody's training at all so there's loads of us on duty."
Things you never hear a Scenes of Crime Officer say:
"I can tell you from the fibres, fingerprints and footprint that I've found, who definitely did this."
"There's so many prints I don't know which ones to examine first."
"The conditions are absolutely ideal for evidence gathering."
"Yeah, leave it in the office, we'll bag it up when we get back."
"I was really impressed with the standard of your exhibit labelling and packaging."
"It will be a pleasure to take your samples to the lab."
"Actually, we're very quiet today, we'll be at your burglary in a few minutes."
"Tell you what, as there are two of us we'll take a vehicle each to maximise the number of assignments we can deal with."
"We'll have the results back for you this afternoon."
Things you never hear a controller/dispatcher say:
"It's okay, I told them it wasn't a police matter."
"No need to attend, I've advised them over the phone."
"I've anticipated you and already looked it up/made the enquiry/found out/contacted the person, etc., etc., etc."
"Sorry, no long list of jobs for you today."
"I've typed up the result of the job exactly as you told me."
Things you never hear a Crown prosecutor say:
"You're quite right."
"No we best not hold the case on that day as you are on annual leave."
"Actually we feel the charge is too minor, we're going to charge a more serious offence."
"We've asked the court to do the not guilty pleas first so the witnesses don't have to wait around too long."
"You were right, we shouldn't have dropped that case."
"The victims' views are paramount here."
"There are ten police witnesses in this case, realistically we only need one of them at court."
"We've successfully applied for compensation for you."
And last but not lest, things you never hear a traffic officer say:
"Now I come to think of it, my radar gun is faulty."
"You were driving at just about the correct speed."
"Actually, you're right, I do have something better to do than book you."
"Of course you can have a verbal caution rather than this ticket."
"Excuse me, we're very busy with this accident, would you mind, if it's not too much trouble, going that way instead?"
"You're quite right, mobile phones are handy, aren't they?"
"Of course, you can borrow some equipment, take it from my car."
"It doesn't matter that it's not a traffic assignment, let us help you out."
"I like to park the car and get out every once in a while."
"I'm just too active, I can't sleep in the patrol car, or back at the Garage on night duty."
You Might Be a Copper if...
You have the bladder capacity of five people.
You have ever restrained someone and it was not a sexual experience.
You believe that 75% of people are a waste of space.
Your idea of good timing is an armed robbery at shift change.
You call for a name check on anyone who is remotely friendly to you.
Discussing dismemberment over dinner seems perfectly normal to you.
You find humour in other peoples stupidity.
You have your weekends off planned for a year.
You believe the government should require a permit to reproduce.
You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says " God its Quiet today".
Whenever you phone someone, you ask them 'Are you free to speak?'
Your diet consists of food that has gone through more processing than a Computer can track.
You're the only sober person in the kebab house.
You believe chocolate is a food group.
Having alcohol at 7am seems perfectly normal.
You have ever wanted to hold a seminar called "Suicide, getting it right the first time".
You believe "Too stupid to Live" should be a valid court outcome.
When you mention vegetables, you're not referring to a food group.
You think caffeine should be available in IV form.
Your prisoner states "I have no idea how I got here" - and neither have you.
You end normal conversations with loved ones with Roger or Acknowledged.
You walk down the street looking at people as potential criminal intelligence submissions
You believe the carpet bombing of certain areas of your beat is a viable alternative to policing
You believe that some crimes can be sorted out with a damn good kicking.
Your favourite hallucinogen is exhaustion.
You are the only person you know who ever uses the word 'liaise'.
Your partner tells you off for walking with your hands held together behind your back.
At least once every working day you use the phrase, "The job's f*cked!"
You regularly say, "With all due respect, Sir" but mean nothing of the sort.
You have a nose finely tuned to the smells of cannabis, decomposition and stale body odour.
You think Thursday is the best night to go into town for a drink with your mates.
You nodded and laughed at all of the above, and realised what a sick bunch we all are.
Are you an old sweat?
(If you can tick more than half of these then the answer is 'yes').
You used to drive dark blue marked Police cars
You used to cover school crossing patrols
It was easy to find someone's former trade or calling
You know what an CRO number was
You only had one letter on your shoulder
Your trousers had a truncheon pocket
You had to salute Inspectors and above
The station van had a bell instead of two tones
You used to send the dog return at midnight
You had to check the 940 every day
You used to perform reserve duties
You remember three page HO/RT1 pads
You know what a Storno is
You have dealt with a recidivist
You had a tunic with a belt
You knew where extension 40 was
You know what a seek and search is
The front office was staffed by a Station Sergeant
Night duty lasted seven nights followed by a late turn
You got paid every four weeks rather than monthly
You know what M2MP means
You used to get expenses paid to you in cash in a brown envelope on a Thursday
You walked for entire night duties over the whole seven days
You were not allowed to sit at the drivers' table in the canteen
You remember #1 and #2 on the main set being linked at midnight
You know what the PAS book was
You had to parade before a tour of duty and show your appointments
You know what two blue lights on a Rover SD1 denoted
You went to Magistrates Court off night duty for breaches of the peace
You attended a two-day RT Operator's Course before being allowed to operate on the Area Car
You know what a 110 is
You knew that sector policing was going to fail
You remember Inspectors wearing blazers with two stars on the lapel
You used to complete the log book (in its wooden folder) for every call on the Area Car
You did two quick changeovers in every four week rota
You knew how to take the fuse out of the Police sign on Pandas
You know what a binder winder is
You had to ensure you had three IRBs, three Process Books and two ARBs
You remember when CAD was a word used only by Terry Thomas to describe his adversaries.
You know what 99 means when it's broadcast on the PR
You remember when 'The Centre' was called CO
Your shirts have more service than your colleagues
An Accident is an RTA, not an RTC
Some famous Lines
You know, stop lights don't come any redder than the one you just went through."
Relax, the handcuffs are only tight because they're new, they'll stretch after you wear them a while."
You said you don't know how fast you were going, so can I write any speed I like on your ticket?
Yes, sir, you can talk to the duty sergeant, but I don't think it will help a lot! Oh, did I mention that I'm the duty sergeant
Warning! You want a warning? OK, I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."
In God we trust; all others we run through PNC
You didn't think we give attractive women tickets? You're are of course right we don't, but you can sign here
How do you tell the difference between UK, Australian and American Police Officers?
Use the following Scenario
You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, a dangerous looking man with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, and raises the knife and charges. You are carrying a Glock .40, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?'
UK Police Officer's Response:
1. Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!
2. Does the man look poor or oppressed?
3. Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
4. Could we run away?
5. Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?
6. What does the law say about this situation?
7. Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?
(Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?)
8. Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?
9. Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
10. If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?
11. Should I call for backup and ask the Sarge when he gets here?
12. Why is this street so deserted?
13. We need to raise taxes, have a paint-and-weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behaviour?
14. If I raise my gun and he turns and runs away; do I get blamed when he falls over running away, knocks his head and kills himself?
15. If I raise my gun and he turns and runs away; do I get blamed when he falls over running away, knocks his head and kills himself?
Australian Officer's Response:
"Struth Mate" Bang
American Officer's Response:
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Click.....(sounds of reloading) BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Daughter: “Nice grouping, Dad! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips?''