from A Squandered Life / Good Cop Bad Cop '75

Dogs, plain clothes, uniforms, even a helicopter.....

The only cop I ever liked was one called Dave. He introduced himself as that instead of as PC this that or the other. And he would always take his peaked cap off when he wanted a chat.

He had replaced the other little shit on the local beat who fancied himself as a ladies' man and tried desperately to be a hanger-on with Suzy Quatro and her gang who lived near by and sometimes appeared in the local pub. He became so convinced that I was a drug baron that he organised a massive early morning raid on my cottage. Dogs, plain clothes, uniforms, even a helicopter. They’d apparently “staked us out” from the Tory stockbroker’s mansion opposite. Their “good neighbour” policy obviously extended to providing cups of tea and the odd sherry to cops squatting behind their lace curtains with binoculars.

At the time I was doing a weekly run into London to deliver cress to Spitalfields and other wholesale markets. I used to love that job. I would need to get the Luton box Transit to its destinations on time, but I didn't have to return the van to the farmer until sun up. This meant I could visit friends all over the city and return in the early hours when there was no traffic about. Apparently I was the most fuel efficient driver despite my friendship circuit because I spent very little time idling in traffic on the return journey. Sometimes I used to bring friends back to the cottage as dawn was breaking and I imagine this must have been what drew the coppers' (and the stockbroker's) attention.

Trouble was, I wasn’t home. And all they found was a single solitary weed plant growing in a rusty bucket down in the field. In those days that was enough to get hysterical but not really enough to justify helicopters and dogs and wasted overtime. I often wondered if that botched raid had anything to do with his transfer out.

The first time his replacement Dave came round was with a WPC to tell my friend George that his dad up in Scotland had died. George was very upset, but I was preoccupied with being extremely prickly towards both coppers.

A couple of times he tried to chat to me in passing in the local village and once at the footbridge across the river. I was always offhand, probably even rude. He seemed very good about not taking offence, not bearing a cop grudge.

Then one day he knocked on my door again. He took his hat off but I didn’t invite him in. He explained that one of the women in the squat up the road was in danger of having her child taken from her by the social services if she didn’t give them a ring. Apparently she hadn’t turned up or been around for several SS family care interviews and her estranged husband/boyfriend had claimed she was missing.

Dave knew where she was and who she was with, but didn’t want to lead a charge and grab on their house. He said if she would just phone in to say she and the child were okay and when they would next be in for an SS interview, the police couldn’t do a grab.

He said he would go up to the squat himself but knew his uniform would antagonise and he didn’t want to create a fuss. Would I go and have a word with them? I said I was busy and anyway didn’t tend to do cops' work for them. He stayed patient and waited for me to vent my spleen.

He then said, “Well if you get the chance, it would be a great help.” I closed the door.

A couple of hours later, the sense of what he was saying finally sank in and I decided to go up and have a word. The woman rang through and there was no smash and grab. Next time I saw Dave, I tried to be polite. He was a very nice guy.


© 2013 Deacon Martin

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