Hi everyone, hope you are as well as can be. Firstly an apology, this has been a long time coming and like Jeremy Hunt MP I’m lucky not to have been sacked (by Bryn) as a blogger !!! I have offered my resignation but thankfully it wasn’t accepted !!
Anyhow onwards and upwards as Nick Clegg is hoping for at the local elections……….enough of the political ‘satire’ as I can’t stand Ben Elton ! As I promised in my last blog all those weeks ago – excuses later, this blog will continue on the Charlie theme; remember him of the colostomy bag / police officer.
In the last blog I explained how I believed Charlie was an inspiration for overcoming bowel cancer, having the indignity of using a colostomy bag and yet still being motivated to keep the Queens peace on the tough streets of South London from the very early 1980’s through to 2004. Now I have said what an inspiration he was to a lot of people, both inside the police force and outside of it but with this individual there was a sort of twin character. One being a genuine guy who cared for the community that he worked and the other………well shall we say one difficult to work out and to this day I don’t think that I or my colleagues every knew the real Charlie.
As I have mentioned previously to a brand new probationer Charlie was initially very scary and intimidating; he had been at Orgreave during the Miners Strike, the Brixton Riots and the Poll Tax Riots, so quite rightly it was difficult not to have total respect for the man and I have to say I have never come across anyone who didn’t. But ……….with Charlie went a quite unique sense of humour and one that could have had him in serious discipline problems if anyone had taken offence to that wicked sense of humour.
So here goes with just a few old stories that I can actually print ………..the first and fairly mild was when we had a new WPC probationer posted to our Relief. Charlie would casually go over to the poor girl concerned and with his best smile say “Hello, I’m Charlie, do you want to see something ?” Of course being new the young lady would say “Yes go on then”, and at this moment Charlie would lift up his tunic and shirt and show the now startled woman his bag along with its contents !! Out would go an ashen faced WPC to either the toilet or another female colleague. Now back in those days WPC’s were called one of a few names which is why they never challenged Charlie as to his actions. Phrases used were: Doris, Plonk, Split Ar*e or tea makers and they are some of the mild ones but all had to go through the Met ritual of having their skirts lifted up and bums stamped with the station stamp, in our case, see below:
CARTER STREET 01MS
24 JULY 1993
Charlie could also keep an absolute straight face when up to his tricks and whilst being posted to the CAD Room (control room) would occasionally answer a call from the public by way of “Ello, Peckham Fire Station” or “Good afternoon, Samaritans how can I help” or “Anglean Windows, do you have a reference number” but occasionally “Good afternoon Carter Street Police Station” !!! However whilst out on the street patrolling and being sent to report a burglary or other crime he would still have fun at the public expense.
On numerous occasions he would (along with me in tow) answer a call to Mrs Miggins or whoever the crime victim was and act very professionally but at the conclusion of the report that he had just taken would say “Now if you need anything else please let me know, I’m PC Flint Kidnapper from Carter Street Police Station, yes I know a strange name but I changed it by Deed Poll from Ivan Lenin” Other times he would take a different way of introducing himself to the public and upon the door being answered he would say “Hello Madam, I’m PC DanGoldfinger from Carter Street Police Station” – this with a very heavy Jewish accent !!! If he felt it warranted it he could also put on a involuntary movement, either a facial tick or a flailingarm like Jack Douglas from the Carry On films. I used to have a real job keeping a straight face whilst watching the poor member of the public thinking “What the hell have The Met sent me” !!
Magistrate Court appearances were always an absolute joy to watch and probably some of Charlie’s finest moments. He had various routines that he could use and either had the Magistrate bemused or the public gallery in floods of tears, laughing uncontrollably.
When a police officer gives evidence he / she has to introduce himself / herself to the court after giving the oath or affirming. As a police officer you have always got to direct anything you say to the Magistrate, looking in their direction. This was Charlie introducing himself:
“I swear by almighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. PC 293ms Charles …….ley, Volvo driver, currently attached to Carter Street Police Station” The Magistrate would generally say “Is there any relevance to being a Volvo driver officer ?” Charlie would reply “Very proud to be a Volvo driver your Worship”. He would then be asked whether he wanted to refer to his notes made directly after the incident. The general reply from most was “Yes if I could” but not Charlie, his response was “Well I can name every FA Cup Final team and scorers from 1952 to 1999, so no thank you Sir / Madam”
His next trick, if using the above ruse would be to choose a moment in his evidence where he has to make a decision as to whether such and such was to his left or right etc…….and it would go something like this – Defence solicitor “What hand was exhibit CF/1 in officer ?” Charlie “It was in his right hand your Worship, no tell a lie his left” Magistrate “A strange and somewhat inappropriate terminology to use officer whilst under oath” Knowing full well what the Magistrate meant (Under oath and forbidden to tell lies for fear of committing purgery)Charlie would look at the Magistrate with a bemused look on his face and say “I’m not with you your Worship” Magistrate “The term tell a lie officer, not the best to use under oath” Charlie “Whys that your Worship !!”
His next best was to go into the witness box and put on a severe stutter like Arkwright from Open All Hours. He would stutter all the way through his evidence and then stutter even more when answering the defence questions. No one in the court had the nerve to ask or question whether the stutter was real.
However his show stopping routine was to introduce the colostomy bag into the court process believe it or not and he would do it like this:
Defence Solicitor – “Tell me officer……………………..(question on Charlie’s evidence)
Charlie- Nothing said ! Just stands there in the box with a strange look on his face
Defence Solicitor – “I’ll ask you once more officer……………….”
Charlie – Still nothing said in response, just strange look on face
Magistrate intervening “Would you answer the question please officer”
Charlie “I do beg the courts pardon your Worship……….I was just relieving myself !!”
Magistrate – “What did you say officer”
Charlie – “Colostomy bag your worship, I was just having to make use of it. Would you like to see it ?”
Magistrate – “That wont be necessary officer, carry on”
Defence Solicitor – “Now tell me …………(stopped in his tracks by Charlie)
and turning to the Magistrate……..
Charlie – “Before I carry on can I just confirm your Worship that I am the only officer to relieve himself in your
box !!!” ………more laughter if the Magistrate was female – think about it !!!
How he ever got away with all this I don’t know but he did have a very healthy contempt for senior officers which seemed to put them on the back foot with him. A prime example was on late turn he was smoking at the back door, talking to myself and my Area Car (or RT Car) partner, Paul when the Chief Superintendent walked out of the building passing us as he walked out. Charlie, me and Paul were standing just inside the back door as it was spitting with rain. As he walked out the Chief Superintendent said to Charlie “Please don’t smoke inside the police station officer” Charlie said “Sorry Sir, won’t happen again” With this he took one exaggerated step out into the yard, looked at the senior officer and taking a long draw on hiscigarette blew the smoke straight back into the police station !!!!!!!!!!!!
Sadly the old boy died of a heart attack in 2004 and in his will stated he did not want a full Force Funeral. However everyone attended in full uniform and about 300 officers from PC, Sergeant to Inspector arrived and shook his wife’s hand and after the funeral we all went on mass to a pub nearby and all the stories including those above were related ten times over. The land lord that day thought all his Christmas’s had come at once !!!!
As you can see from this blog Charlie was an inspiration to a lot of people and still lives on when people like me relay some of the funny stories about him and it isn’t just me that tells them, it is about four hundred others who worked with him that tell them as well, a scary thought all those people who have to put up with these bloody Met stories !!!!
Hopefully my next blog will be with you sooner than this one was, see you soon, Chris.