Community Relations Ch. 01

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Doug, loved history. It started at school and he began to collect memorabilia as a hobby. Sometimes it was magazines or newspapers, plates and mugs to commemorate historic events, military memorabilia, cap badges, medals, anything that had a connection to some sort of significant event in the past. Inevitably, this brought him into contact with others with similar interests, and he was drawn into a world of dusty store rooms, cardboard boxes, house clearances and car boot sales. It wasn’t for everyone, but it gave him a lot of pleasure. He had a well-stocked stall and could often be found on weekend mornings, setting up in car parks, church halls, parks, in fact any open space, to try to make a bit of money and to chat with others who spent their spare time browsing for hidden treasures, or just looking for a bargain.

So it was one morning in late August in a small lane near his home, which had been closed for the day for the monthly ‘Collectors Fair’. It was a fine weekend so there was a good turnout, both of stall holders and the public, and he was hopeful of a good day. It was only 9.30am, and already he had sold a number of items, easily covering the cost of his stall fee. He enjoyed people-watching, so even when he had no-one to talk to at his stall, he would amuse himself trying work out little personal details about people. That tall slim guy looked very professional, a solicitor maybe or a dentist, perhaps taking time out as a diversion from his day job. That small pale woman with a baby in a back carrier, was probably just here for a bit of normal adult company after being stuck in the house all week. That slightly furtive couple holding hands didn’t look quite right together. Maybe they were spending some illicit time out of sight of their normal partners? For Doug it was a harmless enough little game and it passed the time.

His eye was drawn to a figure walking towards him, hard to miss really given it was a uniformed Police Officer. It turned out to be the local Community Officer whose job it was to know everything that was happening in their area, and to get their face recognised. They would chat to the locals and the tourists alike, presenting a friendly face, providing a reassuring presence, and hopefully picking up valuable community intelligence; anything of interest that was happening in the area.

Nicky, or more formally Constable 3576 Ross, had been in the Police for 6 years. She had been a slightly more mature entrant than those joining from school or university, having tried a few different jobs, but she had tired of all of them and was looking for something a bit more meaningful to do in life. She was surprised, when she saw an advert seeking Police recruits, to find herself considering the idea, but applied none-the-less, was successful in the selection process, and did well during training. After a spell as a probationary officer, she worked as a regular response officer for a couple of years and was well liked by her bosses. She was still only 36 and had been selected to be a ‘Community Cop’ a couple of years ago, a role for which she was well-suited. She had a friendly demeanour, a relaxed smile, and could talk to anyone. This was her second such post, the first having been in a modest sized town, and she had recently requested a transfer to this pleasant district within a larger city in Southern England. Today was the first public event she had been able to visit on duty, and she was enjoying the opportunity to meet some new faces.

“Morning”, she called out. “I’m Nicky. How’s it going?”

“Hi. Err, Doug.” he replied, slightly awkwardly. “Err, fine thanks. Anything wrong?”

“I don’t know, is there?” she replied, putting on a slightly stern look.

Then she broke into a smile.

“Not at all. I’m just saying hello to people. This is my area I want to get to know it. I’ve not long moved here.”

She was used to getting a cautious response from people but had become adept at putting them at their ease.

“Interesting display of stuff” she said, nodding her head towards the table filled with a myriad of varied items. “Do you have a theme?”

“Err, not really”, he replied. “I just like old stuff, particularly things I can match to specific eras or events.”

“Ah, OK”. Nicky replied. “Mind if I have a look?”

“Be my guest,” he replied, relaxing slightly.

Doug knew he had nothing to worry about. All his items were from straightforward, reliable sources. He wasn’t in it to make a dishonest living. He found himself almost laughing at himself for the stereotypical response to meeting a law enforcement official. Why do people feel that way? Like walking through the ‘nothing to declare’ channel at the airport under the watchful gaze of customs officers. It made no real sense. It was probably the uniform. The symbol of authority!

Nicky was browsing with casual interest, so Doug, in characteristic fashion, turned his attention to her. She was about 5 feet 6 inches tall and had a medium build, or at least he thought so. It was difficult to tell under the protective ataköy escort vest and heavy equipment belts. She had a pretty, pink-cheeked face, shoulder length mousey-blonde hair and tanned arms.

“Of course,” he thought. “She spends a lot of time outdoors.”

It was an interesting experience for him. He had only really ever seen the uniform before, never the person wearing it.

“What’s this?”

The query cut across his thoughts. He looked at the item Nicky was holding in her hand.

“Oh, that’s a cap badge” he said. “Military, Scottish in fact. Gordon Highlanders.”

“Mmm. Nice. I like this sort of thing,” she replied.

“Really? I’m sure I have some old Police stuff somewhere.”

He began rummaging in a couple of boxes under his stall. After a few moments, he produced a couple of Police cap badges, old ones from the days when every small ‘Shire’ had its own Police Force.

“Oh these are great,” she smiled as she examined them with a knowledgeable eye.

Nicky was genuinely interested. She loved those days when communities were really close-knit, when everyone knew everyone else, and the local cop was right at the heart of things. That slightly romantic vision was one of the reasons she chose to join the Police.

“What else have you got?”

“I’m not sure what I have with me here today,” he replied. “I can have a rummage. How much time have you got?”

“I should probably have a wander around,” she said, glancing down the long line of stalls. “Will you be here later?”

“I’ll be here until the end,” he replied. “I think it finishes at 2pm.”

“OK. Thanks. I’ll get on with my patrol and I’ll pop back later if I can,” and with a friendly smile, she moved off through the crowd.

Doug followed her with his roving eyes, watching her walk, purposefully but with a certain feminine fluidity. In contrast, her attire was rather masculine and militaristic, typical of the present day equipment worn by many Law Enforcement Officers round the world. She was an arresting sight, and his mind wandered momentarily to some of his favourite fantasies involving strong female figures in a position of authority, particularly those in uniform. Whatever else happened today, he would make a point of trying to find anything he could that might be of interest to her.

Sure enough, at 2pm, the stall-holders began to pack away their stuff and the crowds began to disperse. It had been a successful market. Doug had done well and had a full cash box. In between customers he had, as promised, rummaged through the boxes he had brought with him, and had turned up a couple more Police-related items. They weren’t fabulous, and he knew he had more, but they would be somewhere in his lock-up garage in the lane behind his little flat.

He was disappointed there had been no sign of his friendly neighbourhood Police Officer. He had kept his eyes open for her, and thought he glimpsed her a couple of times in the distance, but he reflected that perhaps she had just been being polite about her interest in the cap badges.

He turned his attention back to packing up his wares. He had an old-fashioned, but clever hand barrow that he used regularly. It folded out to form part of his stall, but transformed back again into a large cart that he could push back home, laden with all his stuff. It worked really well on occasions such as this when the sale was close to home.

He was loaded up and ready to move when he heard running footsteps and a slightly breathless panting behind him.


He turned and saw an attractive mid-30’s woman smiling at him, breathing a little more heavily than normal. She was wearing a light informal jacket, and beamed at him with a friendly smile, but he didn’t immediately recognise her. It was only when she playfully opened her jacket in classic ‘flasher style’ and he glimpsed the Police uniform underneath, that he realised this was Nicky.

“Sorry I’m a bit late,” she said. “I got held up. I was supposed to finish at 2, so I ended up just throwing my stuff in my locker, grabbing my jacket and running round here. I guess I’m too late.”

“Oh. Not at all. Delighted to see you.”

Doug stumbled slightly over his words. He was really pleased to see that Nicky had, after all, come back to see him, and he was surprised at how different she looked without all her bulky equipment. With her civilian jacket on she was just like any other attractive 30-something woman, and why not? On closer examination he could see that she was still wearing her Police trousers, black shoes etc and had either not taken the time to change, or was simply in the habit of travelling to and from work in half uniform. He has already noted the generous outline of Nicky’s boobs through the close-fitting, wicking fabric of her Police T shirt when she did her little ‘flash’.

“I found a couple of bits and bobs in my box, but they’re in the middle of this lot” he continued, nodding towards his loaded cart.

“Ah. OK. Shame”, she said, looking genuinely disappointed. bakırköy escort “Sorry again for being late. It always seems to happen whenever I plan to do anything after work. The proverbial ‘sod’s law’ she grinned. “Maybe another time then?”

“Oh no,” he blurted out, probably a little too keenly! “I’m sure I can find them again. In any case I know I have much more stuff, just not with me here on my stall. Do you have to dash off? My flat is only a couple of minutes away and I have a lock-up in the lane at the back. I catalogue all my things so I’ll be able to find the Police stuff pretty quickly.”

He realised he babbling in his effort to ensure she didn’t just walk away, and felt a little awkward. He always seemed to get tongue-tied around an attractive woman.

Nicky considered the suggestion. Should she take him up on his offer to go with him while he looked for more Police items? She had only just met the guy, and for only a few minutes. It wasn’t that she was afraid of going with him. She could look after herself of course, and he didn’t exactly look threatening, but she had thought about doing a bit of flat hunting. Her move was so recent, she had been given temporary accommodation sharing a room with another woman officer, which was hardly ideal. She glanced at Doug and, seeing his enthusiastic expression awaiting her response, she quickly made up her mind thinking it might be a pleasant way to spend an hour or so.

“You sure?” she smiled. “I don’t want to put you to any trouble.”

“It’ll be a pleasure,” he replied, entirely truthfully. “You OK to follow on behind?”

“Stuff that. Let me give you a hand.”

She placed a carrier bag she had been carrying on top of the load, leaned against the heavy cart, gave a hefty push and it began to roll slowly along the lane. They positioned themselves, one on each of the two handles and slowly strolled along the lane picking their way around the remnants of other stalls and piles of bin liners and cardboard boxes.

“How was the rest of your shift,” Doug enquired, making polite conversation.

“Oh fine thanks,” she replied rather vaguely. “It was good to spend some time on my new patch and meeting a few people. Did you have a successful day?”

“I did thanks,” replied Doug, picking up his cash box and shaking it. It rattled loudly.

“Ah so the drinks are on you then?”

They both grinned at one another, knowing this was just a turn of phrase, but it worked well as an ice-breaker. Doug could see why she would be good at her job.

They chatted in a more relaxed manner about nothing in particular and a couple of minutes later they arrived outside a tidy, if rather anonymous end-terraced flat. There was a narrow lane down the side and Doug explained that the lock-up was down the lane. After a bit of manoeuvring, they had the cart outside a pair large wooden doors. The dull paint was peeling off and the windows were dirty. Doug unlocked the padlock, swung the doors open and they pushed the cart inside. The lock-up was surprisingly large, and Doug turned quickly and carefully closed the doors behind him.

“You can’t be too careful …,” he started and then, realising who he was talking to, looked slightly sheepish.

Nicky laughed. She had twinkly eyes and her lips parted in a happy smile. Doug found the look very attractive.

“It’s a quiet lane,” she agreed. “You don’t want everyone to know what’s in here. It would be an easy target.”

Doug bolted the doors and started to unload the boxes from his cart, handing Nicky the carrier bag she had placed on top.

“Oh thanks,” she said. “This is just some stuff I bought earlier. There was a stall selling home-made cakes and things. I’m not much of a baker so I bought a couple of sponge cakes and a bottle of dodgy-looking elderberry wine. No idea what they’ll be like. Maybe we should have a little picnic while you look for the stuff? I didn’t have any time for lunch.”

Doug chuckled. “OK, fine, thanks. I didn’t take any food with me either, so I’m ready for something. You should find some plates and glasses over there,” said Doug, nodding towards a corner.

Nicky took a few moment to look around. She was standing in a large brick-built shed. It wasn’t immediately clear what its initial purpose had been, but it was certainly a good storage space and was well-hidden behind the terraced row of flats. There were windows on 3 sides, pretty dirty, but letting in enough light. Most of the wall space was lined with industrial-style metal shelving which was covered in boxes. There was a smaller area at one end, separated by some more shelving, containing a small table, a couple of wooden chairs and a cupboard with an old TV on top. There was even an old sofa along one wall.

“Quite a home from home,” she laughed. “Do you spend a lot of time in here?”

“Well it’s where I catalogue and store most of my stuff, so I guess I do,” he said, slightly apologetically.

“Nothing wrong with that,” Nicky responded. “It’s nice to get time to yourself sometimes.”

Nicky found everything she needed, cut a couple of generous slices of a Victoria sponge, and poured a small quantity of the dark-coloured wine into each of 2 glasses, sniffing at it with curiosity.

“Oh well. I guess we’ll just have to try it,” she shrugged, holding out one of the glasses.

Doug took the glass, raised it and toasted, “To chance meetings!”

“To chance meetings,” echoed Nicky, and they both took a sip of the elderberry wine.

After swallowing, both gave a sharp intake of breath and blew out their cheeks. Laughing at their identical reactions they both glanced down into their glasses.

“That’s not wine, it’s rocket fuel,” coughed Nicky. “Not a bad taste, but drink too much of that and you’d know about it,” she laughed.

They both tucked into their sponge cake, which was very good, and the glasses were topped up with a more generous measure now they knew the stuff was at least drinkable. Doug finished unloading his cart and began flicking through an old-fashioned ledger-style book.

“You’re not computerised then?” Nicky enquired with raised eyebrows.

“I must get around to it sometime,” he said. “I started this years ago and just kept my paper records. I have such a lot here, it is quite a thought to re-do everything, but it would make it easier.”

Nicky took the time to look him over. He was probably what most people expect a collector of historical bric-a-brac to look like. He was a little older then she was, probably just the right side of 40, fairly slim, clean shaven with shortish dark hair. He wasn’t actually a bad looking guy, fairly tanned from his days on the stall, and athletically built. Probably gets quite a work-out lugging all that stuff about she thought.

He was no Indiana Jones, but he was smartly dressed in casual short-sleeved shirt and jeans, well-groomed and smelled pleasantly of a familiar aftershave. Nicky sniffed.

“Old Spice,” she thought. “Typically ‘old time’ fragrance”, although perhaps ‘classic’ would be a kinder description.

It was Doug’s overall demeanour that indicated he spent a lot of time alone; he was mild-mannered and certainly didn’t ooze confidence, except when talking about his beloved artefacts. She found herself curiously drawn to him. He was very different from most of her work colleagues, with a kind heart, eager to please and with no macho ego to massage.

The next 20 minutes or so passed with Doug finding items in his ledger, locating them in the boxes and handing them to Nicky. He had helpful little bits of information about most of them, and Nicky’s interest was definitely aroused, in more ways than one. The time passed easily, and so did the elderberry wine which, together with the Victoria sponge, was disappearing quickly.

A sudden triumphant cry grabbed Nicky’s attention.

“Here we go.”

Doug emerged from between two shelves carrying a medium-sized cardboard box which he brought over to her and placed on the table.

“Let’s have a look in here.”

The box was indeed a treasure trove of Police memorabilia. Cap badges, small items of uniform, photos, some old copies of Police magazines, old-style handcuffs and half a dozen ceremonial wooden batons, complete with the Force crests on them.

Nicky handled each item with obvious interest, feeling the weight of the handcuffs, which were much heavier than the modern alloy ones, and running her fingers along the smooth wood of the simple batons, very different from the side handled composite or telescopic ones used today.

Nicky looked across at Doug, who was watching her closely. Both had drunk quite a lot of the ‘rocket fuel’ by now and were definitely slightly the worse for it. Doug had been tempted to make a smutty comment as he saw her handling the smooth truncheon, but was immediately pleased he had resisted.

“I’m pleased you didn’t go for the old line of, ‘would you like to see my baton little girl?'” she smiled. “I’ve heard them all! ‘Can I try your handcuffs darling?'” she mimicked, pulling a lecherous face and feigning a confident swagger.

“See when guys have few drinks inside them,” she continued. “They think they’re so funny and original!”

Doug was slightly taken aback by the obviously irritated nature of Nicky’s comments, and realised the alcohol was probably fuelling some long-held frustrations.

“I guess it can be difficult being a female officer?” he asked.

“Mmm. I think it’s probably better now than it used to be,” she replied, slurring slightly and slipping off her jacket, which she hung over the back of the chair. “Some of the stories you hear about how things used to be…” Her voice tailed off and she took another generous sip from the glass in front of her.

“Such as?” prompted Doug.

“Oh this was back in the day when Police women were only thought to be good enough to deal with kids and domestic cases,” she continued. “The Police was such a chauvinistic place. Do you know, as recently as the 1980’s, if a new female officer arrived at a station, the male officers would drag her into a back room, pull her knickers down and stamp the cheeks of her bum with the office stamp, just as some sort of pervy initiation ceremony.”

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