In my probation, as are all probationary constables, I was required to do a couple of tours with the gaffer.
Traditionally, the gaffer did not deal with anything, that was down to the ‘sprogg’. He just let you get on with it to see how you coped, however if you got into difficulty he would say something like ‘can I just say something?’. The controller was likewise primed to look for jobs with some kind of odd slant to them and point them your way.
One patrol we were sent to a little grey haired old lady reporting a prowler at the window the conversation went along these lines:
‘Hello officer, I am so scared I thought I had better call the boys in blue’
‘What happened ma’am?’
‘well, I was listening to the radio and I saw a man’s face at the window.’
‘Describe him please’
‘Very pale, with black hair. I would say he was 40, but it’s difficult to be sure, he really made me jump’
‘Mmm…any facial hair? Glasses? Marks? Scars? Tattoos?’
‘No, none of those…’
I was about to continue when something caught my eye, it was the Radio Times. I could clearly see the programme that had been broadcast within the time she had called us, so I changed tack.
‘Nice and warm in here’ (I noticed the gaffer’s eyebrows lift up in surprise)
‘Oh yes officer, I love to sit by the fire in the evening and listen to the radio’
‘With a glass of warm milk?’ (I could see the empty glass).
‘Do you doze off occasionally?’
‘Oh yes, especially with Wellington on my lap’
‘Ahhh… may I be so bold as to suggest what I think may have happened?’
‘Go on constable’
(picking up the Radio Times) ‘One of my favourite stories and plays (I indicated to the entry ‘Dracula, by Bram Stoker a 6-part dramatization’) I have got wifey to record it tonight, were you listening to it per chance?’
‘Oh yes! What a scary story. My husband used to read to me you know…’
‘Lovely. Do you think you may have fell asleep and had a little dream? Only the description you have given sounds a little like the Count’
The old lady sat for a moment.
‘I suspect you may be right officer! Well done, you’ve cracked the case! Now shall we have a drink to celebrate? The whisky is over there [pointing]’
‘err… well I’m not…’
Suddenly, the gaffer was on his feet and collecting the whisky and two glasses (she had one already… 🙂 )
‘Don’t worry PC Shijuro’, said the gaffer with a smile ‘it will help to keep out the cold…’
‘What made you think of that officer?’, she said.
‘Well, ma’am. Apart from the things we just talked about, we are on the second floor of a multi-occupied tenancy. The man would need to be able to fly to show his face up here.’
We had a little laugh about that and a chat and checked in the flat, the rear garden and alley just in case.
Some years later the gaffer told me that incident was the reason he signed me off for independent patrol after being on the unit for only 6-months.
I really miss those days.