Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Page Thirty Six - Silver Haired Fox (Copcast #151)

George remembers quite vividly his days of being tutored on shift. It was a great time for him, his first foray into real police work. As a very 'wet behind the ears' probationer, he experienced confrontation on an unprecendented scale, had a taste of man's inhumanity to man and witnessed the social degradation that goes hand in hand with some of the more colorful characters police officers meet in their daily work lives. And he loved it.

His tutor was a silver haired, old school copper called Bill. George had no idea how old he was, only that he was 'more than likely' in his early forties although the lines on his face no doubt belied his real age. George knew he had been around since the miners' strike and that he had seen the big changes in the criminal justice system as well as policing in the UK change forever. Bill had been a beat officer all his working life, spent some time as schools liasion officer before becoming a tutor. He used to 'swing the lamp', furnishing George with tales, most of them touched with some wisdom in an effort to highlight where he had perhaps gone wrong or needed some development. Bill was old school. His younger shift colleagues regarded him as a 'dinosaur' and 'out of touch' but he had more policing skills in his left small finger than most of them could muster collectively.

George had the upmost respect for Bill and his time with him has stayed with him. He taught him patience and how to use his communication skills to their full advantage. "Who wants to fight when we can just talk?" Bill used to say. George has witnessed first hand this silver fox outsmart drunks and druggies more than once, even talking them into handcuffs. At 6'2" Bill was no lightweight and could handle himself and he often said he wanted to go home after a shift, not casualty.

Some years later George finds himself in Bill's boots, he's tutoring and for the most part he loves it. He meets the young guns and forms bonds with them, he's genuinely interested in seeing how they develop and likes to be the one to give them their handshake when they reach confirmation. It means a lot to him.

So, what about Bill? Well he's still about, his silver hair is now white and he has a little desk job that keeps him off the front line. He and George do catch up every now and then and a little while ago he came up to George's office and asked to speak to him.

"George" he said, "I haven't got much use for this now, I would like you to have it". Bill handed him a small silver key, it was well worn and a bit bent at the end. "It's a key to all the park gates in the area" he muttered. It was a special moment, George didn't know how long Bill had had it or even if it still worked but he took it and thanked him. Of all the probationers Bill had taught George felt touched that he had chosen him to pass it to. Perhaps it is because Bill saw a lot of himself in George, or perhaps just that he was now a tutor. George really didn't know.

For the record the key doesn't work. George tried it one night after a group of lads had decamped from a stolen vehicle and made off over the railings into a park. He didn't curse Bill, he knew it probably wouldn't work given that the council change the locks on all the park gates every 5 years. He just placed it back onto his key chain and when his probationer asked why he wanted to keep it, because it clearly didnt work he replied "It's more than just a key", before pulling himself up over the fence. "Besides" he continued, "I need to hand it down to someone at some point. I've just got to find the right person."

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