Best "late for work" excuse
One duty we all hated was Ingliston Market on a Sunday. It was situated right outside Edinburgh Airport, and market traffic had to share the Airport road, which caused chaos when the market traffic was trying to exit en masse. Due to the old police divisional boundaries, the rural area within the western part of the City of Edinburgh District was (at that time) policed by "county" officers, and the Airport was a separate entity. Several of its officers were ex-British Airport Authority, who by agreement with the BAA, were unable to be deployed outside of the airport area. Consequently, the temporary traffic arrangements whilst the market was running was the prerogative of officers based at Broxburn in West Lothian. A lot of our beat area was within the City of Edinburgh District, and that was the reason why we were one of the busiest stations in Scotland. We had the M8, M9, A8, and A89 road systems to contend with, as well as several very busy towns and villages in the area, and in the adjoining part of West Lothian.

"Smithy" was an old cop at Broxburn. Nobody hated Ingliston Market as much as he did, and he would use every type of dodge to try and avoid working there. One Sunday somebody on our shift phoned in sick (we called it "Inglistonitis", especially if it was pouring with rain). Smithy was detailed to fill the gap, and duly took his turn on "Hell's Point", the busiest of the three traffic points required to "clear" the market traffic.

He was doing a grand job of clearing the market traffic, and the usual tailback for the airport started to form. His task was made difficult by the repeated sound of a car horn in the queue, and eventually a young airline pilot abandoned his car and ran up to Smithy. The young pilot expressed his disgust at the hold up and told Smithy he was a "useless" individual. Smithy walked right up to him so that the peak of his cap was almost touching the pilot's nose, and said, "Here's the deal, son. I'll not tell you how to fly your aeroplane if you don't tell me how to direct traffic at a busy road junction." Just at that, an impatient driver in a similar predicament as the pilot, took advantage of the free for all and drew forward into the path of a market van which hit him broadside. Smithy shook his head and muttered "I rest my case". The young pilot was even later than he would have been due to the junction being blocked.

The inevitable weekly complaint against the police arrived from the Airport, and Smithy was called in to explain himself. Smithy told the Chief Inspector that in the event of him being detailed for the same duty again he would refuse to do it, as the whole situation was too stressful for a man of his years. He was in his early 50s, but had to work until he was 55 to earn a decent pension, as he had joined later in life.

Smithy was effectively excused from Ingliston duties for the rest of his service, and none of us could believe he had managed it. Unfortunately the reason soon became apparent. He had developed cancer and his service was cut short in any case.

Any time I got "Hell's Point" after that I would sometimes smile (albeit not very often) when impatient aircrew were waiting in the queue. "The 1745 flight to Amsterdam is delayed because the police have placed another "useless individual" on points duty outside the terminal".

None of us could comprehend why such a huge outdoor market could be allowed to compromise the safety and efficiency of such a major airport, until we saw the cash figures involved. So please now read "The 1745 flight to Amsterdam is delayed because a multi-millionaire pays the Airport a ridiculous amount of money for the privilege of using our service and access roads. Any complaints please take them up with the useless Police individuals on points duty outside the Airport, as it isn't our problem!"

Every Sunday we had to implement a contraflow system whereby traffic entering the airport and market was reduced to a single lane instead of two, and traffic exiting was increased to two lanes instead of one. There were about 30 road signs to attend to, and one of the weekly complaints to the police would be if we forgot to return any of the signs to their proper position. The situation was that several thousand vehicles all attempted to leave the market at the same time, and that just wasn't doable with the prevailing road system, which I'm sure has since been altered.

Eventually in winter, the officer working "Hell's Point" had to be illuminated by an overhead streetlamp to comply with somebody's health and safety regulations. Quite often the light would "blow" when it got hot, so what did we do? The same job as we did when the light was working, otherwise I'd still be there today arguing the toss with jumped up pilots!
Oh yes, I remember being summoned on more than one occasion after a complaint was made. My reply to the complainant had been similar to Smithy's "I'll not tell you how to do your job if you don't tell me how to do mine". Really, some people have nothing better to do than waste police time with stupid complaints. Fortunately the boss was of the same opinion.

Don't know if you had those Renault Clio adverts featuring "Nicole" and "papa". I was sent to the report of a Renault Clio having been broken into outside a rather large mansion house where several executive cars were parked, as well as the Clio. The lady of the house remarked that she couldn't understand why anybody would target the Clio over the other more lucrative targets. Nothing had been stolen from the car.

In all innocence, but with my usual devilment, I said "Maybe they were checking to see if Nicole was in it ?" Totally wrong thing to say, as the car belonged to the lady's teenage daughter and she thought I had made an inappropriate sexist remark.

After speaking to "Nicole", she admitted that she had locked her house and car keys in the car and had to force the door to get them back. Daddy went ape in the morning so she told him somebody had broken into the car. When I advised the lady of the house that we would be taking no action against her daughter for wasting police time she replied "Just as well, as I'd have made a complaint against you, and you would have been sacked." I turned round and said "I'm really sorry, madam, I never realised you had the authority to have me dismissed. If I give you my National Insurance number, can you just write out my P45 now, and by the way you owe me 6 months unpaid rent allowance?"

Her husband, a very influential local businessman, heard the exchange and went into fits of laughter. A domestic dispute then took place between the lady and her husband, but we let them deal with that themselves. No complaint ensued, and even if it had I don't think I'd have bothered too much. Sometimes enough is enough.
:lol: Yes, I remember Nicole and Papa. I don't know why it is that some people feel the have to put police officers "in their place". The worst people were hunt masters -we had one who was incredibly rude and arrogant. Fortunately he didn't have the last word !

The market/airport scenario sounds horrendous. But money talks as ever, regardless of the complete lac of practicality.
Hunt saboteurs and animal rights activists abounded in our area, and we also had various hunts. The Linlithgowshire Hunt kennels were torched in Threemiletown, and an animal laboratory was blown up in Newton.

We never had much dealings with the Huntmasters, as speaking to us was beneath them. We did have a few run-ins with the saboteurs, who always accused us of siding with the nobility. They used to run around spraying those cans of whatever in an effort to distract the hounds.

My good pal Rab Millar accosted one of them and advised him not to waste too much of the spray, as he stank to high heaven (or words to that effect). The guy asked Rab what his problem was and Rab's reply was that he thought anybody walking about with blue hair and open toed sandals in a thunderstorm was making a cry for help. Rab then gave him directions to the local mental hospital, which I don't think went down too well.

On another occasion when Rab and I were deployed to a demonstration to save the Green Belt, a very obnoxious group began taunting us and shouting various insults. They had built temporary wooden dwelling huts up in some trees which were due to be removed, and told us there was nothing we could do to them. Once again it was pouring with autumn rain. Rab's answer was, "We'll be back in the summer with a few gallons of petrol and a Zippo lighter each and then we'll see about that!" At that a member of the group carved Rab's police number on a tree trunk. Rab shouted" You'd better not damage those trees pal, or you'll get a shower of nutters screaming and shouting at you!"

Several arrests ensued after that for some inexplicable reason. Most of the protesters were from south of the border and had anticipated a Mexican standoff with an intimidated bunch of cops, frightened to put a foot wrong or be accountable for it. They soon discovered we had a rather different attitude to what they were expecting. I believe about 31 complaints were generated at that incident, most of them against Rab Millar.

We were so disgruntled after being used as cannon fodder during the MIners' Strike that a fair number of us couldn't care less whether we still had a job the following week or not. We never used horses against the miners, and just did to them what they did to us. We did draw the line at spitting on them, but we punched and kicked as good as we got. Any unfortunate striker who was targeted as a "ringleader" and "snatched" by special police squads from the melee, would have been unconscious by the time he was dragged clear of the line. We were outnumbered at least 3 to 1 and couldn't afford to stand around like scarecrows and be hospitalised. They wouldn't let us wear protective clothing or use riot shields either, unlike our English colleagues.

What a terrible life I've led. Only injury I got was being hit in the forearm with a brick when I was in the front row, and it bounced off my arm and hit a miner in the face. Others were not so lucky and we had one fatality, as well as dozens fairly seriously injured. I think the miners caused more injuries to each other than they did to us. I was from a mining community myself and it was a rather odd situation to be in.
I enjoyed attending mink hunts - it was generally a rather nice evening out strolling by the river making sure the hunt and the sabs didn't cross paths. We had some interesting activists living on out patch as well as even more interesting visitors with ALF connections. In my mysterious way, I was able to acquire interesting information which I passed directly to the men in suits who were interested in the ALF, thus by-passing CID and the rest of them who would have claimed the credit for themselves. Sad isn't it, to have to work like that, but you have to be more cunning than the lazy sods who get away without doing anything.

I too was fortunate in not sustaining any physical injuries in the job (apart from appendicitis !). Being a rather lightweight female, I relied on talking my way out of a situation as I wasn't much use at self-defence. I did once get grabbed by a vast woman of the travelling community who pushed me backwards over the bonnet of a car then grabbed my tie. Silly move, it came away in her hand. She then put her huge fat pudgy arm across me and my only thought was "How the hell do I get out of this one ?". I bit her arm hard enough for her to let go and for me to get free. No blood was drawn, so no need for a rabies jab. A traffic cop who'd stood by watching the scene without lifting a finger found himself on foot patrol in a not so nice part of town, thanks to my sergeant who arrived in time to see what was happening.

It was an interesting job with the usual highs and lows but not a job I would even consider doing today.

That was the only injury I sustained during the Miners' Strike, but I was hospitalised three times. Twice after getting "a kicking" in large street disturbances (concussion, and an eye injury). Then I was passenger in a panda going to a blue light house fire call with persons believed trapped inside, when the idiot who was driving slammed on the brakes instead of driving up a grass banking when we met a skip lorry head on in a bend. I was in intensive care for 5 days and nearly lost two fingers off my right hand. That was the end of my accordion "career", as I had to learn how to use my third and little finger from scratch, aided by Play Dough! Just about every internal organ was bruised and swollen, and I broke my sternum and 7 ribs, as well as sustaining yet another eye injury. The bonnet of the car came through the windscreen and that is not a very good situation to be in. I had to somehow extract myself from the car, aided by members of the public, as the dashboard went on fire. The driver was trapped, and thinking he was a "fatal", an ambulance crew member discharged their vehicle extinguisher into the car, whereupon the "fatal" fortunately came alive! Fire service took over an hour to cut him out, as the front of the car was so badly mangled.

6 months later I was back at work, a remnant of my former self, and it was as quick as I could get an office job to see me through the last 5 years. The young cop who was driving couldn't pass the fitness test at the end of his probationary period and was "dumped". His injuries were worse than mine as the steering wheel ended up being embedded in his ribs, even with the airbag! Fortunately the car lifted the lorry slightly on impact otherwise I wouldn't be typing this.

Some of my absences from the forum are when I get brassed off trying to play the box like I once could. Fortunately, the damaged fingers don't affect my guitar playing, so I still have a musical instrument I can play without getting frustrated about loss of capability.

I had to sue the Chief Constable for my injuries at a time (1997) when people who had suffered as many injuries as I did were getting about £30,000. After refusing £1750 I finally had to accept £6,500 on advice of the Federation lawyer, who was about as effective as a Beecham's powder in a barrel of water. Wish I could have played "Deal or No Deal" with that one! They offered me an ill health pension, but I was just short of the necessary service to make that worthwhile.

Don't know how they manage the job these days, and like yourself I wouldn't even consider it.
Let me make it unanimous............ I wouldn't join the job today, not for a solid gold, diamond encrusted pig.

I think that when you have had enough of something, you have had enough. As the years roll by, and you notice things are getting worse, it is time to hang up your spurs.

It was my good fortune to have a number of teaching and other qualifications when I retired from the job, which allowed me to step seamlessly into positions with local FE Colleges. Within a couple of years, I became Head of Adult Education in a local college.

The job would be okay, except for the routine betrayal by.............. well, you know who. (see how I neatly sidestepped a political comment there????)

Kind Regards,


P.S. The same betrayal applies equally to members of the armed forces. When will it end?

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