Dear old Uncle Ernie is better known as PC Plop. He was a Policeman for most of his working life. This was a time when you spent most of the shift out on the street, on foot, covering miles in all weathers, day and night. I’m not knocking the modern police force at all, I’m just pointing out the difference between 60 years ago and today. The Panda car hadn’t been invented and there was probably less crime to deal with, although that’s an assumption.
Labour of Love
He loved his work and was so enthusiastic about it that I even thought about joining the Police Force when I left school, but I doubt they would have been quite ready to accept me. Uncle Ernie loved being out and about in the open. Chatting and getting to know the people on his ‘beat’ was a daily labour of love. I think most of them grew to love him as much as we did as a family.
He would receive Christmas and birthday cards from a lot of people on his beat over the years by trudging the streets. There were babies named after him where he had had to help with the delivery in an emergency before the midwife arrived. He took it all in his stride. Nothing ever seemed too much. However, there was a story involving Uncle Ernie that I never heard until long after he had left this earth.
Apparently, a gang of would-be robbers had been planning quite a ‘big job’ which involved holding up a local bank and making off with hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash in large postal bags. The house where they were busily engaged in planning this misdemeanour was on Uncle Ernie’s ‘beat’. The bigwigs at the police station had been tipped off by an informer and a raid of the property was set up which would include a team of Police Officers, one of which was Ernie.
Early one Summer’s morning, before dawn, Officers and Constables arrived together at the house. The front door would be smashed in by two burly Policemen then in go Uncle Ernie and his colleagues. All went to plan, Ernie was first in, shouting something like ‘POLICE, DO NOT MOVE!’ He charged into the front room where the door was slightly ajar and then suddenly, total darkness! He was still standing, wide awake but suddenly felt very wet and there was an awful stink that was enough to make him feel sick.
It’s Gone Awfully Dark
The reason it went dark so quick is that a carefully placed bucket balancing above the opening of the door and filled with all sorts of human waste and rotting vegetation had fallen squarely on his head as he dashed into the house! He wasn’t alone either. It happened to a couple of other unfortunate ‘Bobbies’ in their quest to catch the would-be robbers. The story goes that the gang had got wind of an impending raid by the Police so had been able to stay one step ahead of them on this particular occasion.
There used to be a saying that a Policeman‘s Lot is not a Happy Lot. I think Uncle Ernie’s was, but like most careers, it does have its odd downfall.
Bobbies were so-called because of Sir Robert Peel. You can read more here: