My first day
How did my very first day as a policeman go?
I strode purposefully along Victoria Street towards the Police Station located in Denville Town Hall. I was wearing my grey pinstripe demobiliation suit from the Royal Navy. I wanted to look my best as I presented myself before my superior officer as a fully fledged probationer policeman. I had only finished my training in Mansfield the day before.
I went through the swing doors and pressed the bell alongside the hatch in the wall. The hatch swung open and a lugubrious desk clerk gave me an enquiring look.
“I have to report to the Inspector” I said.
The desk clerk looked me up and down and with an almost impereceptible nod of his heard indicated a door across the corridor marked “Inspector” before slamming down the hatch.
I turned to the door, hesitated a moment to pull my suit coat straight, one hand straightening my tie before knocking on the solid oak door before me.
No reply. I waited debating whether nobody was in or whether my knock was not hard enough. I knocked again, harder this time.
“I said to come in” shouted a voice and I trunmed the massive brass door knob and entered the room.
The interior was exactly as it had been decorated and furnished at the turn of the century. Nicotine yellow ceiling. Timber half-panelled walls with brown painted walls above. The floor was covered in heavy duty grey lino which reminded me of the interior floor coverings of the ship I had left. Along one wall were fitted glass-fronted bookcases in the centre of which was a huge fireplace, an ample mantle shelf above which was a huge fly-blown mirror.
The only furniture in the room was a large leather-topped table and four old high-backed chairs. In the far corner was a wooden hatstand holding an Inspector’s peaked cap and an overcoat. A heaped up coal fire flamed high in the fireplace with embers from it dropped onto the stone hearth. The heat was stifling.
The room emitted an amalgam of smells. Tobacco smoke was clearly evident together with the pungent reek from the fire as the wind in the chimney occasionaly wafted coal smoke back into the room. The over-riding aroma was that of fried eggs and bacon emanating from a plateful of breakfast that the room occupant was attacking with a knife and fork.
An electric lamp bulb with a blue enamelled shade supsended from a ceiling cast an area of light over the table. It passed through my mind how it oulc only have been in the recent past that electricity had replaced gas lighting.
All this was taken in at a glance as I shut two doors and turned to face who I took to be Inspector Frank Arthur.
The Inspector put down his knife and fork, remained seated, took a long swig from a discoloured pint pot and said “Well lad, who are you and what do you want? Get on with it. I’m having my breakfast!”
I have since become aware that the Inspector enjoys his eating. Although post-war rationing is still in force, he is well looked-after by the town’s butchers hence the three rashers of bacon, mushrooms, black pudding and tomatoes on his plate.
I will tell you what happened next tomorrow.