This time last year I was a police officer with many years service, well respected by my peers (if that doesn’t sound too big headed….) still holding down my job and career, although deep down knowing that ‘holding down’ could also be substituted by ‘burden to the taxpayer’ and/or ‘what are we getting for his wages’ !!! but still performing a role that was given to me to the best of my ability and doing it quite well thank you very much, although the role of Kent Police Hackney & Private Hire Liaison Officer was the least challenging role of my police career.
However as a Traffic Officer the chance to ‘deal’ with the taxi trade gave me a great deal of satisfaction at times but to my utter disbelief I found that I had every sympathy for the hard job that these lone workers had to perform and that without them, we as the police would have more calls to town centres each weekend night duty – I must have been mellowing in the twilight of my career !!
Then came 2011 and the words from my supervisor “Chris, Occupational Health want you to go and see the Force Medical Officer, nothing to worry about I’m sure”…….Five months later on my last day as a serving police officer the tanoy to the police station ringing out with the words “Can everyone attend the Crime Reduction Office as PC Chris Fuller is retiring today”. I will never forget those words ringing out and thinking “Christ, the job I love and have done for so long is being taken away from me”. The kind words from my Chief Inspector and peoples tears meant a great deal to me and my presents were a joy to behold – a very large frame with all my memorabilia like my original truncheon in it, along with medals, epaulettes from the Met and Kent, handcuffs, badges etc and a ‘This is Your Life’ type book made my day and I have never seen such a present to any other officer in my time and it made me think “People really do like me”!! One of my friends and colleague, a hard as nails Scotsman (all front as he is a real big softy) penned a lovely poem all about me. Tony, my best mate in all my service who then read it out at my party just about holding it together without ‘having something in his eye at the time’ !
There was also a collection for me that was made throughout the Force and in true police style this was given to me in …….a brown envelope – very Flying Squad !! Having done a short secondment to the legendary ‘Sweeney’ it was really appreciated.
Now at the start of 2012 I find myself at 43 years of age a pensioner living in a completely different county, on his pension and if I am being completely honest still not having completely come to terms with the fact that I will never ever carry a warrant card again and work for Her Majesty, keeping her peace.
As I have stated in my profile I do however always look on the bright side to things that are thrown at me in life and I have to admit deep down that there is no way that I would want to go back to doing seven night duties in row (Monday to Sunday) then having finished the last night duty at 6am on the Monday having to be back at 2pm the SAME DAY for a two til ten late turn – not fun in any shape or form !! A ‘relief’ of twenty-five Metropolitan Police Officers who have had no sleep for the best part of twenty four hours and still an eight hour tour of duty in front of them did not make for a happy Camberwell and Southwark !!!
I remember on one such late turn / quick change over asking the sergeant who was doing the postings for that day if myself and a colleague could be posted walking instead of driving / crewing ‘Mike Three’ the call sign for our RT Car (Area Car that is the quickest and first responding vehicle to emergency calls). After agreeing to our request that because we were absolutely shattered we could go ‘walking’ for the day, me and my colleague Paul (who is still after all these years a great personal friend) set off walking down The Old Kent Road hoping for that elusive quiet day – the word ‘quiet’ never ever uttered in the police, every police force in the country referring to it simply a “Q”.
Anyhow, nearly reaching our destination of McDonald’s, so that we could get a real coffee to keep us awake, we both noticed a person approaching us and looking to speak with us. Paul, in true Met style then says to me “Here we go the first ‘stupid question of the day'” , me looking the poor individual up and down and replying “For crying out loud, there’s a village missing idiot somewhere” we are approached by this person who then says to us “Are you Bobbies ?” Quite clearly the person being an American by his New York accent Paul then says to the guy “Ah, one of our Canadian cousins” The American then says to us “WHAT, I am not Canadian I’m from the USA and I’m lost. Tell me where the nearest cab rank is, I’ve got to be in the West End in fifteen minutes”.
Now at this point I’m thinking Paul, who is a very funny but at times sarcastically funny is not going to take kindly to this brash American. Paul then pointed to the Met badge on is helmet and said to the American “Read these two letters and tell me what they say” Looking at the helmet the American said E R” Paul replying said “Yes that’s right E R” American “So ?” Paul “So it’s not A to Z is it, now sod off” and following Paul we both walk away from the obnoxious American and straight into the haven of McDonald’s without giving the chap another glance, leaving him looking bewildered !!
Now, as usual I have completely gone away from what I had intended to write about, so getting back to non police things (I really can’t help myself can I !) I have, in the last couple of weeks come across what is best and worst in people.
One should always end on a positive note so I will leave the good till last. So here is the bad(ish) that will come first. I say bad but it is more ignorance and uneducated and probably more bigoted than anything. Having visited Kent for the first time since moving myself and my wife had arranged to met friends at a large pub in a town not to be disclosed. We went to the bar to order food and my ears pricked up to a conversation that I heard over my shoulder from a group of eight middle-aged white males, who at 11am had obviously had two too many alcoholic drinks.
Conversation (very loudly) went like this
“Ere, what was that dogs name in that war film ?”
“It was Ni—r” (Lots of laughter)
“Imagine nowadays having a black dog and calling it N—er and calling it to come back. Come ‘ere N—-er” (More laughter from the group)
“Who’s dog was it then ?”
“Bomber Harris, who was he ?”
“He flew fighters during the war”
I nearly shouted to them “The clues in the name – Bomber” !!
“It wasn’t Bomber Harris’s dog, Ni—r was Douglas Bader’s dog”
“Douglas Badar didn’t fly bombers, he didn’t have any legs did he ?”
“No legs, how did he walk his dog ?”
“He didn’t, the dog was Bomber Harris’s”
“How did he loose his legs ?”
“He crashed a Mosquito bomber”
“But how did he loose his legs”
“Well it was made of wood”
“So were his legs after that” (more laughter)
To my utter amazement the conversation continued…………
“Douglas Bader lost his legs jumping out of window at Colditz didn’t he”
Brief pause in conversation, then…….
“It was Chopper Harris who’s owned the dog”
“You idiot, Chopper Harris played football for Man United”
“No, no wait, I’ve remembered, that dog N—er belonged to ……….Barnes Wallis” !!!!!
You just couldn’t make it up.
However as I finished ordering some food one of those eight members of the pubs debating society !! came to the bar to order another pint of lager. I couldn’t help myself and said to him “Sorry mate, I happened to hear your conversation about that famous dog and thought I’d let you know that he belonged to Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, who flew Lancaster bombers during the war and led the raid on the German dams”.
The reply was “Never ‘eard of ‘im”
There wasn’t any poetic licence in the above conversation as you might like to think, this was the actual conversation that took place. I walked back to my seat in utter bewilderment but that soon disappeared when my large cooked breakfast appeared though.
And finally the good………
This made my day with the kindness and generosity that was shown to me by a lady that I have never met. My wife, for the last five years has worked for a sports company called Sweatshop. Sweatshop was started by Chris Brasher, who was a British Olympic Gold medallist and was the one who thought of and organised what is the London Marathon. Sweatshop concentrate on specialising on running shoes and my wife, before we moved worked at a branch in Dartford.
Whilst dealing with a lady called Jean a couple of weeks ago my wife and Jean were deep in conversation whilst my wife was fitting Jean with suitable running shoes. During the conversation Sue mentioned that I she was on the verge of relocating to Northants. Jean had asked why and Sue had told her that I had retired from the Police due to Parkinson’s Disease and that during my retirement I was looking to start painting in water colours.
By huge coincidence Jean painted herself and in water colours and the conversation went on until the shoes were satisfactory………..but
A couple of days later Jean came back into the shop to see Sue. She had brought with her high quality painting paper, videos, water colour painting books, brushes and loads of paints with her and said they were for me. She gave Sue loads of advice to pass on to me and produced even more painting material.
Jean has never met me or Sue before but has such a kind and generous heart for all to see and I cannot thank her enough for the genuinely kind gift that she had taken time and effort to put together and then bring over to Sue’s shop; about a twenty mile round trip for her.
This kind generosity has rounded off 2011 brilliantly for my and has given me a warm feeling of human kindness.
I hope you all had a happy Christmas and a great start to the New Year.
See you soon