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Friday, December 25, 2020

Ghost and Mystery stories - WHEN CHARLIE LOST HIS MIND - By Don Hale

When Charlie' lost' his mind - By Don Hale 

IT was on the number 6 bus back from Eccles, near Manchester, on a bitterly cold, wet day, one November, that my friend Charlie first mentioned something about his amazing mind-reading claims. 

We had been playing football against St Joseph's School at Monton - and won 3-2, - thanks to our centre forward Brian (Sniffer) Harris scoring a last minute penalty. The home side accused their goalkeeper of 'sleeping,' and of being 'nobbled,' as Sniffer struck home the winner.  Certainly the lad appeared to freeze, and made little or no effort to save the shot. 

Charlie Cressbrook played on the left wing for our school team. On the journey home, as we celebrated a sweet victory with a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, some toffee cigarettes and a can of pop, he tried to tell the boys' about a dangerous trick he claimed to have mastered. 

Charlie was a bit of a 'swank,' always boasting about something or other. If someone mentioned getting a new bike, a holiday, or buying a new pop record, Charlie had always been there and done it! 

The son of a wealthy stockbroker, the 14 year-old had everything. He claimed to be able to read most people's minds and with some, he said he could even get inside them! He said he had developed this trick after meeting a distant Aunt in Romania, where she lived as a gypsy. 

On the 30-minute bus ride, the teammates finally challenged him to demonstrate this technique after he claimed the credit for confusing the St Joseph's 'keeper. 

"I got into his head alright," explained Charlie. "He was worrying about which way to dive, until I gave him something else to think about. It was just enough to confuse him for a second or two." 

There was no arguing with his logic but the lads were not convinced. "Go on, prove it then," said Paul Grogan, pointing towards a rather dour looking man in a fawn raincoat who was sat on the lower deck; on one of those awkward inward-facing seats. 

"That man in the raincoat," suggested Charlie. 

"Yes, what's on his mind?" asked Paul. 

Charlie now had a captive audience. He placed his fingers on his temples and closed his eyes for a moment. In later years, he told me this was not completely necessary but said it looked more dramatic, and now regularly formed part of his performance. "He's thinking about what to say to his wife. He's been unfaithful. He's imagining kissing Julie, his girlfriend." 

Paul was open mouthed, and then added: "Oh yes, sure," he said. "What's his wife called then? he demanded. 

"Yes if you're so clever give us HER name," added Stephen Dixon, a small and always infuriating child. 

"Mavis," said Charlie in a quite matter of fact manner. 

Our stop was close and we were all pushing and shoving in readiness to disembark. The man was still seated in the same position staring into space.  "Ask him then," said a voice. 

"It's all rubbish," said another. 

Eventually Paul Grogan stood directly in front of the man and asked him: "Is your wife called Mavis?" 

He looked surprised and glared at this boy and the rest of us gathered around carrying our football boots and covered in mud. "Well, yes she is but. ... ?" 

"And your girlfriend. What's she called?" continued Paul.  The man now looked totally confused. 

"What the heck is going on?" he demanded to know. 

"Just answer the question," insisted Paul, trying to put on a fake German accent from an old war movie we had all watched the night before. "We know all about you. Or, at least my friend does," he said, nodding towards Charlie. "It’s Julie isn't it?" added Paul. 

"That's none of your business either, and I'll thank you to keep out of mine!" he roared, folding his arms in defiance. 

"Hey are you lot getting off today, or what?" inquired the impatient conductor, who had tried to clip the ear of young Dixon for annoyingly pressing the bell three times in quick succession. 

"Come on then," shouted Paul and we all followed him like sheep. As we jumped off and onto the pavement we all shouted and jeered at the raincoat man, some even banged their hands on the side of the bus as it gathered speed. We could see the puzzled man still waving his fist at us in anger - and wondering how we knew about his secret romance. 

It was many years later before I met up with Charlie again to talk about old times. It was a long time after we left University. Quite by chance, I had had a couple of hours to kill waiting for my train back to London, when I came across Charlie sat on a bar stool in lounge of the Midland Hotel in Manchester. He was on his own and looked very tired and despondent. 

"Charlie, how are you?" I asked. He turned and glanced at me. He looked completely vacant and didn't seem to recognise me at first. His eyes were red and blood-shot. "It's Tommy, Tommy Davies," I explained. "You remember me don’t you from grammar school?" 

"Tommy, yes of course. I'm sorry I was on a bender last night. Not come round yet," he explained. "How are you then Tommy?" he asked. 

"Fine, oh yes, I've not seen you for what, about 6-7 years?" I exclaimed. 

We caught up on the gossip. He finally told me that he'd spent time in a sanatorium. His drinking had got worse and after leaving Manchester University with a 2: 1 in Physics and Science, he had suffered a complete mental breakdown. 

He said his mind-swapping party trick was becoming an obsession. It was taking over his life. I reminded him of the football match at Eccles some years before and he grinned. He waved me away and dismissed that trivial incident. "That was nothing," he said. "I've near perfected it now - when I'm sober! Not only can I read a mind, but I can also get inside them too. Not everyone - but there's plenty of people that I can," he added boastfully. 

He continued to explain that he'd swapped minds and notes with lecturers at University during his final year. He claimed to have utterly confused them when speaking. He made one master - that he agreed he had disliked intensely - kept repeating the word 'bananas,' and then made him bark like a dog, much to the amusement of everybody.  

Worryingly, Charlie also said he could actually see the audience through HIS eyes. He explained that he could only hold this extraordinary mind-switch for about 15 seconds - but that it had been enough to totally confuse the man. 

The only problem he had was apparently with foreigners. Charlie had a hatred of languages and always said they made him feel confused. He said he now doing some other experimental work .

Charlie admitted that he had also tried the trick with cats and dogs and even a parrot! This became quite frightening! He looked concerned when he told me about one incident with a cat. He suddenly appeared most unwell and began to shake violently. 

"I tried to make the cat speak," he said tearfully. "It was difficult, the cat was violently resisting. I began to choke and eventually the cat died. I was lucky to get back." 

Charlie said the concentration needed for a transfer like that was tremendous and had left him feeling drained. He claimed to have done the same with several older women but thought children more susceptible. 

I left him after an hour or so and never saw him alive again. The next time I heard his name mentioned was at a school reunion in Lancashire with about eight of our former classmates. I think it was Bryan Dean who suggested  'poor Charlie,' and then a few others nodded in acceptance. I lived in north London by then and his comments had little or no meaning for me. 

"Charlie, what's this about Charlie? Our mind reading friend," I asked innocently. 

"You've not heard then?" interrupted Jack McCardle. "Charlie's dead! About six weeks ago." 

I sat down with a bump. "I met him in Manchester a few months back," I explained.  "He told me about some health problems and concerns over his incredible mind transference act." 

"The poor chap was going barmy," said Paul Grogan, our former soccer captain. "Kept going on about this switch technique he had mastered. I believe he was involved in some bizarre government project or something," he added. 

As another young man added his own comments, I struggled to recall his name. "He said he was able to take-over most minds. Knew what they were thinking and could even change their minds. He said he was getting more and more agitated by all these experiments though, and was drinking again!" 

Thompson, Harry Thompson, I remembered as he concluded. Bryan pulled out a newspaper cutting and placed it on the table. It was dated March 4th, 1963. 'Diplomat falls under train,' it was headed. 

The report mentioned a Russian diplomat, who had apparently fainted and fallen under the wheels of a London Underground train. No reason was given for this unfortunate accident. As I read through the story, towards the last paragraphs, which were underlined, it added curiously: 'Another man, later identified as Mr Charles Cressbrook, a University researcher, was also found unconscious within about 20-yards of the incident on the same platform. Police however, are not treating the incident as suspicious, or believe the two are in any way related. ' 

Bryan pulled out a second cutting. This was dated about two weeks later. 'Mystery rail man dies in clinic.' It said: 'Mr Charles Cressbrook, formerly of Manchester, never fully regained consciousness after being found on a London underground station, close to where a top diplomat had fallen to his death. The Foreign Office too had denied any connection and said it was a pure coincidence.' 

There was however, a quote from one of the doctors involved: 'Tests indicated his brain pattern on arrival at hospital was minimal. It was almost as if he had lost his mind! And eventually, it just ceased to function altogether. ' 

I held my head in my hands. This unexpected news put a damper on the evening. We tried to put on a brave face and drank a toast to Charlie. As the others chatted on, I couldn't help recall some of the earlier comments about a government project, a Soviet expert, and his sudden demise. We were then in the very midst of the Cold War. 

Could it have been some bizarre espionage plot that had gone horribly wrong? Surely not! For several days afterwards I kept turning the conversations over in my head. I wondered if he had mind-swapped with the diplomat and had confused this man into fainting and then been unable to transfer back. 

Bryan had given me the cuttings. As I studied them again, I noticed a small paragraph in the first story claiming the Russian too had an interest in mind reading. I remembered also about Charlie's hatred of languages and telling me that he became confused with them. 

Although intelligent, Charlie had always claimed languages gave him a mental block.  I thought that perhaps this time, he had finally met his match; and despite the orders from his government masters, Charlie had at first, probably not realised the challenging nationality, or similar knowledge of his target! 


Ghost and Mystery Stories - The Woman in the Red Dress - By Don Hale

Ghost and Mystery Stories - THE WOMAN IN THE RED DRESS - By Don Hale

THE battered old dredger 'Penrose Bay' eased alongside the jetty at Dover Harbour. She had just returned with a most precious cargo, about sixty servicemen, lifted from the bloody, smoke ridden beaches of war-torn Dunkirk.

Once the butt of many a joke in the dockside taverns around Pompey, this rusting old flat-bottomed tub now took centre stage alongside a Frigate, two Destroyers and a host of other smaller naval craft and pleasure boats. This had been its finest hour!

Sergeant Tom Evans grasped at a corroded handrail on its top deck and scanned the waiting crowds on the quayside for familiar faces. After more than two years of military service in France with the outflanked British Expeditionary Force, and thankful to escape from the rapid advance of the German invasion, Royal Engineer Evans was practically back in England again.

His face became contorted though at the prospect of a reunion with his family. The last few days had been a nightmare, facing a desperate rear-guard action, he had become detached from his own unit and was posted 'missing.' Tom worried in case his parents had received that dreaded telegram and remembered, that as an arrogant 19-year old, he had refused their advice. 

He recalled the rows and bickering and had been glad to join-up in that glorious autumn of '39. Most of what his parents had told him was true. War was certainly no fun! His father knew. He had been wounded and evacuated from the Somme in 1916. Tom too had now seen action in France. He too witnessed the horrors of close conflict and had seen friends killed and wounded.

Tom had waited nearly two days for transport off that horrendous beach. He waded more than half-a-mile out into those freezing shallow, swirling waters, with colleagues to find a ship, joining a never-ending human pier of hope. 

He tried to help others, but injuries and exhaustion took their toll. He couldn't even remember the 'Penrose Bay' arriving. He remembered seeing a ship but the constant bombing, strafing and hours of waiting had confused his already exhausted mind and body. He kept hearing voices and thought someone had once shouted HIS name. 

The smoke was now thick and acrid. He recalled someone finally pulling him from the water and onto that cold steel decking. All the way home, he suffered from flashbacks. His body trembled with every reaction to the sounds of war.  

As his mind drifted again, Tom could suddenly hear the sounds of a band playing, and saw a group of young men in bright blue tunics playing a Vera Lynn number. There was a large banner' stating Welcome Home' draped from a warehouse roof. He instinctively covered his ears. He knew he was safe, but as he closed his heavy eyelids, he could still hear the shells falling and the constant rat-a-tat of machine guns.  His grip tightened as the men on the deck suddenly surged forward in their eagerness to disembark. He felt his weakened body wince as his ribs crushed against the protective bulkhead. 'Watch out there!' he bellowed. 'Sorry Sarge,' replied one of the men.  

Tom Evans was a small, wiry character. As a teenager, he believed he could take on the world and once, in 1934, claimed the East London 100-yards championship. Not anymore! It took all his strength just to grip that rail and maintain his vantage point.

His family had not heard from him for some time. He had managed to send the odd letter but remained apprehensive about seeing them again.  A loud metallic clang brought a huge cheer. A makeshift wooden gangway was being put in place and shore officers shouted instructions to the mooring crew. 

Two dockworkers scrambled up and pulled the deck chains aside. It was there, at that precise moment that he first noticed his friend Corporal Percy Broadhurst. He was sure he must have scanned that very spot many times before, but for some reason, he had not noticed his former comrade. Out of dozens of people pushing and shoving to escape the bedlam of that small ship, Percy had somehow claimed prime position at the head of the queue and waited patiently for the order to move. 

The ship had collected an assortment of service personnel. The deck crowd included soldiers, sailors and airmen. It was like the League of Nations. All carried battle scars. Their uniforms torn dirty and disheveled. Cpl Broadhurst somehow looked different. 

His uniform seemed almost immaculate. He was tall, about 6ft 2in, and despite his recent suffering, he suddenly appeared in the peak of health. Percy had been a keen amateur footballer in his day and boasted about having trials with Fulham FC.

Maybe it was a trick of the fading light but as he turned towards the Sergeant, it seemed the gaunt looks of late, had gone. Tom Evans shouted across to him, 'Percy, are you all right?  There was no reply and that brief glance was to be his last.  Percy had been the life and soul of the unit. He was a natural joker who once contemplated a stage career after demob. He had a strong Cockney accent and a ready welcoming smile.

Tom reminisced about their first meeting, and their training days in rain-sodden Yorkshire. They had both come through the ranks to earn their stripes. He remembered that Percy had often spoken of his sweetheart Kathy. 

Her parents disapproved of him and thought she could do better. The thought of rekindling that romance though had kept him going during hard times. He knew the many letters home had probably never reached her but the daily ritual gave him such pleasure and such hope.

'Move on, Move on!' barked the order, as the corporal grabbed a gangway rail and strode down to the quayside. At the foot of the gangway stood an equally tall, dark haired, striking woman in a bright red cotton dress. Soon, they were locked in a passionate embrace. They held hands and pushed their way through the crowd. At one, they seemed to turn and look back towards Tom.

The girl smiled and waved her hand in his direction. 'The jammy beggar,' thought Tom, 'That must be Kathy, but how the heck?' He looked puzzled. 'Perhaps she had heard something on the radio and knew where to find him but thought that seemed unlikely. Then how?' he asked himself - especially when he had been so badly wounded!

'Watch out!' Tom shouted, as someone gave him a sharp blow to his shin. For a split-second he lost sight of his friend ashore. His eyes searched everywhere but the couple disappeared into the crowd. He bent down to rub his injury and looked again for his friend and the young woman in the red dress. 'Kathy,' he muttered. Percy said she would be waiting.

She had been his childhood sweetheart and pledged that she would always wait. Tom was pleased but could hardly believe the rapid improvement of his friend. Just a few hours before as they headed for safety, he had seen Percy in the sick bay, where he had spent almost the entire trip. 

He had been unable to walk following a severe leg wound. His once proud right-peg, now swollen like a huge over ripe melon. It was a problematic, weeping wound. There was talk of infection - possibly gangrene. Percy had instinctively grabbed at Tom's arm and pleaded with him not to let THEM remove it.

He was still thinking of his friend when Lance Corporal Tucker tapped him on the shoulder. 'Hello Ben, what is it,’ inquired Sgt Evans. Tucker looked strained and most anxious to see him. He was a medical orderly and had accompanied the scattered remnants of the battalion from the beach.

'I've been searching for you everywhere,' said Tucker. He was sweating. Tucker too had been with Percy during Evans' last visit. 'It's your pal Percy,' exclaimed Tucker.

'Yes, I know, it's amazing, isn't it? said Evans, not really expecting a reply. 'I think he's with Kathy.'

'I don't know what you mean,' interrupted Tucker, who was being jostled by the last of an impatient deck mob. Evans noticed that Tucker was clutching a parcel of white letters. 'I'm so sorry Sarge,' he said. 'It happened so quickly. We did everything we could - but there really wasn't much chance. '

Evans struggled to understand the implication of his statement. 'What was the man on about?' he thought, as Tucker pressed the papers into his hands.

'He kept talking about you and asked me to promise that you were given these. '

'You mean Percy? He's dead? But he can't be, I've just seen him!' replied Evans pointing to the quayside.  Tucker was being crushed against a support and was struggling to explain: 'He took a turn for the worst as we entered home waters. He had been so pleased at the thought of seeing his girl again. I heard him say she's waiting!

'We left him alone for a while but then Nurse Grimble came running and shouting for help. Percy was sobbing his heart out. He had heard a shout that we had sighted land.

'Was it the English coast,' he wanted to know. 'He kept asking what the time was. I told him 3.15pm. And yes, it was Dover with the famous White Cliffs. At his insistence, we helped lift him up to look through the porthole.

'Leave me alone,’ he shouted. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He gently lay back on his bunk and just drifted peacefully away. We tried everything. He had a picture clutched tightly in his hand and seemed to have a wry smile on his face.'

Tom was stunned. He took the letters. His hands were shaking. 'Are YOU all right? asked Tucker.

'He said I should give everything to you. You would know what to do.'


It was two days later before Tom gathered all Percy's belongings and finally took the courage to visit Kathy at her parent’s house in Bermondsey. As he knocked on the door, a tearful old lady covered her face with a handkerchief 'Yes, can I help you?' she asked, almost sobbing.

Sergeant Evans took a deep breath as he explained the reason for his visit and asked to see Kathy.  'You had better come in son,' said a male voice from the darkened hall.

Tom did as he was told, and went inside with the small bundle of crumpled papers tucked under his arm. 'Sit down son. You say you are a friend of Kathy's young man?'

Tom looked hard at the couple, who were now seated opposite him. He was just about to explain about Percy's sudden death when the old lady started weeping again. 'She never had a chance,' said the old man. 'Hit by a truck during the blackout. They took her to the hospital but she died the following day. 3 .15pm, the doctor said. Two days ago!'

Tom tried but couldn't speak. His heart missed a beat. He remembered Tucker. And Percy asking about the time, 3.15pm, two days ago! He placed the bundle on the table and unwrapped it. There was an old photograph, the one Percy had clutched on his deathbed. It was the first-time Tom had actually seen it. It was taken on a summer's day. It showed a young woman holding hands with a tall man in uniform. It was Percy! The couple were smiling and it was that very same young woman he had seen on the quayside following his arrival from Dunkirk.

He turned the photograph over, it stated: 'From the woman in the red dress. Yours forever,' signed 'Kathy.'

'I suppose this young man's come home for her?' asked the old man. 'It's such a shame he won't see her again.'

'Yes, he's come home,' interrupted Tom. 'But now I think they are now finally together.' Tom left the papers on the table and smiled as he handed the picture to the bemused couple. He walked back down the hallway and wiped away the tears with his sleeve.


Children's Short Story - Billy the Bright Blue Ball by Don Hale


(1) BILLY – the Bright Blue Ball - a children's story

The first in a series of fictional short stories by Don Hale.

BILLY woke with a start to the sound of a small boy tapping a coin on the shop window. As he slowly opened his heavy eyes, he could see someone staring back at him. It was unnerving. Billy was in the far corner of the window. 

He felt rather uncomfortable and was perched on a soft pack of coloured plasticine, which was at precisely the same height as the boy’s eyes. Each day at exactly 4pm, this very same boy passed by the window with his mother on his home from school.

It was an old-fashioned toy and gift shop in a small village on the Lleyn Peninsula. The window was a magnet for children of all ages. It seemed like an Aladdin’s cave packed full of goodies. It had everything from a wooden yo-yo, to a spinning top, an impressive Knight’s Castle, string puppets, metallic cranes, cloth dolls and a large electric train set.

The train could be started by pressing a small red button on the outside of the shop, and just under the window. It was every schoolboy’s dream. The set consisted of a red locomotive and three metal carriages. It ran on a Hornby double-track complete with miniature station, tunnel, goods yard and a brief replica of the Cricieth area.

To this little boy, it seemed quite incredible that one small push would send the train racing around the track for several minutes. It would also set in motion a bright light in the signal box, lift a few signals, a level crossing and despatch two miniature cars.

When pressed it culminated in the atmospheric sounds of a real railway, and that button not only lit up the model – but also illuminated many half-frozen faces from the watching contingent.

Billy must have nodded off for a moment. It was the middle of winter and bitterly cold outside. He noticed that everyone was well-wrapped against the chill, and the window soon became half-misted due to the heat in the shop. As the train made a final lap of the track, Billy watched as the boy’s nose pressed against the glass and steamed it even further.

Billy was drifting back to sleep again when he suddenly heard a loud shout: “Stand easy, that man. Wait for the order.” It came from a tall Sergeant Major, resplendent in his brightly coloured red tunic and bright silver buttons that neatly covered his thin wooden frame.

The soldier however, was not shouting at Billy, nor at the watching boy, but at a drummer, who made a rather premature sound. Another dozen or so tin soldiers immediately stood to attention behind him in a long straight line; whilst some other bandsmen held their breath in anticipation of a similar rebuke.

The Sergeant Major lifted his arm stiffly and the band began to play. Two other soldiers clashed their symbols, whilst another played a clarinet, and a fourth man banged his big base drum.

As the sound increased, they all began to move slowly but in harmony, trying to keep pace with the beat of a tape from a military march. A squeaky monkey on the top shelf clapped his hands in glee and tried to join in with the hullabaloo - much to the disapproval of the grumpy conductor. 

When the train finally ground to a halt, Billy’s side was transformed into a magical display of pure fantasy. The boy’s eyes however, remained fixated upon Billy. Dylan Jones, the shop owner, had deliberately programmed his displays to come alive at regular intervals from about 3.30pm onwards, to attract the attention of children, parents and other passers-by.

Christmas 1959 was fast approaching, and each, and every toy was constantly jostling for prime position. New additions included a light brown leather football with bright yellow laces, a silver spinning top and several new dolls. Billy glared at the Sergeant Major, and the monkey reacted to all his shouting by pushing a dead spider onto him from a great height.

Billy remained happy though. He hoped this small boy would buy him. Billy was a bright blue and very bouncy ball. He was slightly larger than a tennis ball, yet much smaller than a football. And each day, when the boy visited his window with his mother, he strained to listen to what he was saying. 

He noticed that on several occasions after watching the train race around the track, the boy’s mother had to harshly pull him away from the glass. “Mum, why can’t I buy that ball?” he had heard the lad ask.

“At two shillings and sixpence, it’s just too dear. You’ll have to save up all your pocket money to buy it,” she replied sternly, before adding: “Anyway, you don’t know what Father Christmas will bring, do you?”

The boy generally gave a long look back as he was dragged along the street by one arm. Billy noted that many of his toy colleagues kept being taken off the shelf, or removed from the window. He wasn’t quire sure what was happening but often saw them being carefully wrapped in colourful, glittery paper for some people called ‘customers.’

“When will it be my turn?” he muttered to himself.

“Your turn?” remarked the Sergeant Major, in a booming voice. “You’re in for a long wait. And you’re far too dear, that’s why my lad! They’ll want something more substantial for that sort of money - rather like me in fact!” he boasted, quickly tweaking his impressive handlebar-type moustache.

“But I’m only a shilling, and I’m still here too,” interrupted a small green tennis ball, in a rather shrill voice.

Billy smiled and responded: “But you are very small, that’s why you are so cheap. And I can bounce much higher than you. Higher than this window in fact, and over that little boy’s head.”

“No, no. Surely the boy would prefer a nice shiny football with new laces,” added the new addition to the top shelf.

All the toys began mumbling and grumbling and making comparisons of stature and price. The conversations ended abruptly as Mr Jones suddenly slid open the wooden panel to the front of the counter, and everyone held their breath as he stretched his arm inside to reach for a toy.

Through the gap, the toys could just see a rather stern-faced woman in a dark coat waiting patiently for her purchase. “Hope it’s not me,” said an anonymous voice. “Me too,” added another.

Mr Jones grabbed at a skipping rope and quickly tried to slide the panel back along its runners. All the remaining toys sighed with relief. Before he could close it completely however, the panel shuddered then jammed; and as much as he pushed and shoved, it wouldn’t move any further.

He left it and continued serving the customer, intending to return to it later. The disturbance though shook all the items, especially on the top shelf. Several began vibrating uncontrollably. Billy too struggled to stay on his cushion, then suddenly lost his grip and fell.

He tumbled down to the tin soldiers, and rapidly spun past the railway platform and dropped down towards the counter and the stone floor. “Hey, stop pushing,” shouted the new football rather indignantly, as Billy unintentionally nudged him.

“Stand still that man,” urged the Sergeant Major, who was also trying to keep his balance, waving an arm at his men. The shock prematurely started the band into motion but all seemed slightly haphazard.

Billy was in a real daze. “Help! Help me, I’m falling,” he shouted.

There was nothing anyone could do to help. And by now, Mr Jones was at the far end of the shop serving someone else. Billy bounced uncontrollably across the cold hard floor, and then just as another customer entered the shop, he was sucked out of the door by the strong draught, and began to roll helplessly towards the busy main road.

As he rolled over and over and over, he could see all the other toys watching him in horror. He became very frightened and wondered if he would ever return to the warmth and safety of the shop window. It was starting to rain and he soon felt the chill. He tired quickly and was very wet.

He finally settled within a small indentation next to a bright lamp standard and still within a few inches of the road. He saw several enormous buses and lorries hurtle past and tried hard to hold tight each time.

It was about an hour later before he realised that the shop was now in darkness and he heard the door slam shut. It was Mr Jones heading home. There was hardly any traffic or people about now, and some swirling dust blew into his eyes. He felt very alone.

He rolled backwards and into the next doorway and began shaking with the chill and fear of the unknown. 

Suddenly, a dog came out of nowhere. It lunged at Billy and gripped him tightly in its foreboding jaws. He could feel its sharp teeth digging in. He felt that with any more pressure he would burst. Billy stared up at its nose and could hear it panting heavily as it ran off down the street. It was a scruffy black and white mongrel. He became dizzy and shaken as the dog picked up speed. The dog began to breath even more heavily and started drooling, but Billy still couldn’t move. 

At the car park, he had a stroke of luck. A large tabby cat scampered out from under a parked truck. It saw the dog and panicked, throwing out its back as it hissed angrily to protect itself. To the dog, this represented an obvious challenge. He dropped Billy and charged towards the cat.

Billy was still dazed but knew he must escape. It was now or never. Slowly and carefully, he rolled backwards and gradually wedged himself against a metal post in the shadows. It was very dark, and in the half-light, he could see the dog returning and started sniffing about for the ball.

Billy must have rolled about 50-yards away. He hoped it was far enough. He could hear another cat meowing and screeching somewhere in the distance. The dog stopped and turned its head towards the sounds. He soon lost interest in looking for the ball and continued his rounds. Billy was crying. He felt tired, stiff and rather sore.

As morning finally came, Billy was startled by the sound of a car approaching and heard it drive past him and park to his rear. As the driver climbed out, Billy was surprised to see that it was the shop owner, Dylan Jones. He looked towards him and tried to make a sound but he couldn’t.

Instinctively, he gathered all his strength and hastily rolled out in front of him. “Well, bless my soul,” exclaimed Mr Jones. “My bright blue ball. How on earth did you come to be here?” he asked. It was a rhetorical question.

Billy felt more tears in his eyes. He wanted to explain but couldn’t. He heard Mr Jones mutter something about ‘perishing kids,’ then put the ball in his pocket and marched off towards the shop. He took Billy straight inside and into the kitchen.

Mr Jones washed the ball gently under a warm tap and carefully scrubbed away some of the dirt from his night out. Billy enjoyed the attention. He soon felt clean and refreshed. Within a few minutes, he was back on display in the shop window. This time however, he was put in the prime spot – right next to the electric train set.

Mr Jones placed a gold star next to him. He felt pleased, proud and relieved to be back. All the toys celebrated. And even the monkey clapped his hands again in glee. They each fired a barrage of questions at Billy. They had all been concerned but were now desperate to hear about his adventure. Billy gave them a brief explanation but needed more time to settle. He was still cold and the warm air inside the shop made him feel sleepy. “Later please, I’ll tell you later,” he replied, before dozing off. 

It was 4pm before he awoke, to the sound of that same small boy tapping on the glass. All the toys jumped to attention. “Stand up men. Get ready for action,” demanded the Sergeant Major. “And good to have you back Billy Ball. Very smart on parade,” he added. Billy felt very proud but still wondered what the notice next to him said. 

“Look mummy, my ball is on SPECIAL offer,” the boy remarked, looking upwards toward his mother.

“Special,” murmured Billy. “So that’s what it says? Mr Jones thinks I’m SPECIAL.”

The boy continued tapping and pushed the button to start the train. “Please can I buy that ball mummy? Please?”

Neither Billy, nor any of the other toys could read or write. No one had mentioned what the sign had said before. He was still grinning when he heard the distinctive ding as the shop door opened, and a woman entered with the small boy.

As the panel opened, the toys shook again. There was silence in the ranks. Billy could now see the boy’s face. “That’s the one,” he said excitedly pointing towards him. There was a slight grumble from some of the other toys as Mr Jones stretched his hand inside the panel again.

“Good luck,” shouted the monkey.

“Here, here,” added many others.

“Well done son, go proudly into battle,” added the Sergeant Major, as he struck up the band in his honour.

The shopkeeper ignored the hullabaloo and said: “Just two shillings please, Mrs Roberts. It’s a real bargain. And it’s on SPECIAL offer. And I am sure you’ll have lots of fun Tom,” he said, patting the boy on the head, and handing over Billy, neatly wrapped in a small brown paper bag.

Billy smiled as he was carried away. I don’t think he ever realised his value had dipped, due to his dangerous exploits - but he didn’t care. He felt wanted at last, and by someone who seemed to care. He pledged to bounce as high as he could for his new master.

On the short walk home, he kept replaying that SPECIAL tag mentioned by Mr Jones, and listened to Tom, singing his praises, and telling of what he planned to do with Billy the following weekend. Tom placed the bag on the kitchen table and carefully removed the ball. 

As he turned, Billy quickly gazed out onto a large floodlit garden. His mind was already racing ahead and planning a host of further adventures. For the first time in ages, he felt happy and relaxed.

Thankfully for Billy, he had failed to see something brush swiftly past the rockery; and as the door finally closed, he also failed to hear a rather deep, determined and slightly worrying growl coming from some black and white coloured shape, now tied to its old kennel. Sweet dreams.




Thursday, December 24, 2020


                                   The genuine detectives' office at Manchester Town Hall


The perils of old Manchester & London

 Report by Don Hale

The period shortly before and after the turn of the 19th century coincided with the fictional publications of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who depicted his hero as the super sleuth Sherlock Holmes, and his able assistant Dr Watson. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - the creator of the Sherlock Holmes character

His work was extremely topical, and although at times it was criticised by senior Manchester Detective Jerome Caminada, he often included important references to the ‘Dynamiters’ and ‘Foreign Agents,’ and Holmes regularly pitted his wits against the admirable Inspector Lustrade at the new Scotland Yard.

                                  Famous Manchester detective Jerome Caminada

By this time, London could also boast of a unique police riverboat force, incorporated within the main city police to counter river crime. These units developed at a rapid pace and by then had their own experienced and specialised patrol units. In London, together with many major British ports, a special breed of dangerous and despicable thieves began to attract certain unsavoury nicknames - with many examples highlighted in Conan Doyle’s novels.

They included: - TIER RANGERSThey were said to have ranged along numerous tiers of shipping to spot an enterprising opportunity to steal in the dead of night. They quietly sneaked aboard ships and entered the cabins of crew and especially passengers, usually whilst they were asleep to steal personal effects. Slim young children under the direction of gang masters readily undertook much of this work.

LUMPERS or ABSTRACTERS:  – These were considered larcenist dockworkers who produced large canvass pockets within their coats and deliberately stole smaller items to order as they unloaded the varied cargoes. These particular dock thieves were well organised and had access to shipping documents and bills of lading, and could practically steal to order from a shopping list of imported goods. They were able to confirm the precise cargo, expected time of arrival, berth and time of discharge of most vessels.

Any larger items considered valuable, but too bulky to steal were forwarded to other equally dubious colleagues known as TRACKERS. They appeared alongside ships in various forms of disguise, such as ship’s painters, maintenance men etc, and received the items directly overboard. 

Some very valuable and heavier items were carefully wrapped in waterproof coatings and carried out to the estuary, or a quieter part of the channel and dumped overboard with markers and buoys. They were later recovered by parties called DREDGERMEN.

WATERMEN: - Their job was to ferry passengers and light goods across rivers and estuaries. On occasions these people found the odd corpse, ‘stiff-un’ or ‘floater’ in the river at sunrise or sunset, and would deliberately rob the bodies of clothing and personal possessions, and sell them on to criminal colleagues. It is quite likely some bodies were never found after being carefully weighted down to ensure they remained on the seabed.

Holmes and Watson became a legendary duo from the late Victorian age. Their tales, lifestyle and dress were promoted to a worldwide audience and Conan Doyle’s stories must also have enhanced the hat and tailoring trade too, with Holmes occasionally wearing his Deerstalker, Inverness cape or Billycock hat, with Watson often pictured by illustrations, in his curly topper to match his moustache.

                                              Pictured (Above) two Manchester Police stations

Their adventurous stories, particularly in and around the London suburbs, painted a fairly accurate, yet grim picture of the London crime scene, and often, the stories incorporated some major technological developments or ingenious invention. In particular, communications and transport presented an ever-changing picture. Telegrams remained the most common and established method of communication and were generally used because of their speed, accuracy, and cost. 

The standard price for a telegram was just six pence for twelve words. This amounted to a penny-per-word, with all telegrams personally delivered anywhere in the country, mainly by young lads on bicycles, at any time of the day or night. 

They also offered an immediate right of reply service, which continued until about 1879, when Eddison introduced the first telephone exchange in central London. It was another four years however, before his invention and devices became readily available nationwide.

SELF EDUCATION FOR THE POLICE 1899 - a unique guide to Victorian policing

Self Education for the Police 1899 - A unique guide to Victorian Policing: Reproduced by Don Hale:


This is a fascinating document unearthed by accident from the archives of my great grandfather’s personal effects, which had lain hidden and unseen for well over 100 years. He was a former soldier who left the services to become a police constable, sergeant, detective sergeant, detective inspector, chief inspector and finally the youngest ever superintendent of Manchester Police.

The content of this document is based upon the copy found within the faded notes of Self Education for the Police, which became known as the ‘Bobby’s Bible,’ and contained all the information required for a police officer to do his duty.

The unique book contained a host of question and answers, tests and a sort of template so that each officer could be guided into the appropriate course of action.

Policing and living costs c1900

Police wages: A police constable around 1900 would earn about £67 per year, which would increase to about £80 per annum after ten years service. A sergeant could expect to take home £104 per annum, and a superintendent about £290.

Police officers could also apply for boot allowances of £1.50 per year, and if they reached the senior ranks, they could also apply for rent allowances. In comparison, general labourers earned about £46 per year, a railwayman about £43, and a shop assistant £20. In the higher bracket, a bank manager could expect about £400 per annum, and yet a music hall performer could earn more than £520 per year.

Rent and rates were high in comparison with wages, and household accounts showed the regular purchase of lamp oil, washing soda, firewood, sticks, candles, black lead and scrubbing bushes to be much in demand.

A loaf of bread cost 3d, a pint of milk 1shilling 2 pence, a pound of cheese 5d, sugar 1 shilling 4 pence. Coffee was deemed very expensive at 1 shilling, and tea even worse at 1s 5d. Newspapers also varied in price from 1/2d to 1d. And seats at the local theatre would cost anything from 6d to 4 shillings.

Admission to the zoo cost 6d and a ride in a Hackney Carriage would set you back about 9d per mile, with tram fares about 3d for a journey from the suburbs to the city centre. Horse tram fares were much cheaper but were soon phased out by the introduction of trams powered by overhead electricity.

Many people used a variety of community based clubs and co-operatives in order to purchase essential materials such as boots, clothing and regular supplies.

Appendix 2: Self Education for the Police, 1899

This valuable document contained within my great grandfather’s prized possessions was just a small but essential booklet entitled ‘Self Education for the Police.’

It is about the size of a pocket notebook with the title established in gold lettering on a black background. The first and last few inside pages are produced on a bright yellow coloured paper, with the following pages and main text printed on pale yellow and crème format material. 

There are an amazing one hundred and forty-two pages in total, which make for both fascinating and amusing reading, with interesting comparison to a past long forgotten.

The book was compiled by a Mr H.Childs F.R.H.S., who surprisingly is listed in the book as a trained certified schoolmaster. 

It was first published at the office of the ‘Police Review & Parade Gossip,’ at 18 Catherine Street, Strand, London WC in 1899, and printed by A. Hudson & Co, Wandsworth Road, London SW.

This book was heralded as a new and revised edition. It is basically a police rulebook of the day, with twenty-four suggested skeleton reports and further tests and suggestions for dealing with a whole range of expected scenarios to help prepare and guide any rookie and totally bewildered policeman.

The index for the reports reflects and discusses a variety of matters pertinent to that developing era including: -

A collision between an omnibus and hansom cab, the removal of a lunatic, an obstruction of public gathering outside a hall, a fatal accident on ice, a horse taken ill, an accident to the driver of an omnibus, accident relating to a defective coal shoot, a man knocked down by a cyclist, man bitten by a dog, false alarm of fire, the searching of a servant’s box and various forms of suicides and other imponderable misadventures.

In addition, it includes sections on special self-examination questions about the law; plus spelling tests; difficult words that are pronounced alike, or nearly alike, but are different in meaning; catchy words taken from previous examination papers for the purposes of revision; challenging dictation tests, and arithmetic.

The new policeman at the turn of the century was obviously expected to be a highly proficient and knowledgeable citizen - much respected within his local community. It was demanded by his employers, that he should be able to take charge of a number of potentially volatile and everyday situations, and be able to act on his own initiative, as assistance in those days was often delayed and initially only summoned by use of a wooden rattle, then later police whistle.

The depth of information within the ‘Self Education for the Police’ book confirmed all the expectations and demanding duties of a police officer. 

The special examination questions were very challenging to say the least, but once learnt were probably never forgotten and this book fast became an essential aid and a ‘Bobbies Bible’ for all occasions, confirming both the law of the land and a policeman’s’ responsibilities, with, and to the general public.

The book included many sets of tests, revisions and what to do about general situations involving: - burglary, common assault, the serving of beer & spirits, alarm of fire, a wandering lunatic, murder, prostitution, house-breaking, fireworks, locomotives, vehicles on the highway, annoyance by a horse dealer, the arrest of a Peer or MP, and a host of other important and essential matters.

In total, it contained a couple of dozen reports of lessons, and the same amount of special examination questions. The arithmetic tests too were demanding and included detailed sections on numeration, notation, subtraction, division, multiplication, weights & measures, compound fractions and many more. 

Special emphasis was given at that time to studying a variety of everyday weights and measures, in addition to the common currency. 

The most notable weights & measures used in 1899 related to: - Avoirdupois weight – drams. Ounces, pounds, quarters, stones, hundredweights and tons; long measures - feet, inches, yards, poles furlongs, chains, fathoms, nautical miles or knots; troy weights – grains, pennyweights, ounces, pounds etc; cloth measure – inches, nails, quarters, yards. 

Apothecaries weights – grains, scruples, drams, ounces and pounds; square measures – of square inches, feet, feet, yards, poles, perches, roods, rods, acres and square miles; cubic measures – yards, feet and inches; dry measures – gills, pints, quarts, gallons, pecks, bushels, quarters and loads; coal & coke measures – pecks, bushels, sacks and chaldrons; time – seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, century etc; paper measure – sheets, quires, reams, bale; and liquid measures – gills, pints, quarts, gallons, firkin, kildergerkin, barrel, hogshead, butt and an anker of wine.

Knowledge of these tables helped officers to quickly deal with any potential disputes for trading, deliveries or supply, and generally related to coal and coke, or those of an alcoholic nature.

Within the book, there were about twelve questions per lesson and each individual test for the officer consisted of a fully written skeleton report, special examination questions, spelling, word memory test, catchy word recognition, dictation, and an arithmetic test.

The dictation part alone was a real challenge and the author confirmed: ‘You should get someone to read this to you once, and then to dictate it at a fairly sharp rate, saying each piece twice.’ 

The editorial also contained a stark warning that more than three errors would be a ‘failure.’ The copy was often complicated and irrelevant but required much effort to study and repeat accurately each time.

Spelling, English and vocabulary, similarly to knowledge of mathematical tables was considered of vital importance; hence the preparation of editorial matters by a qualified schoolmaster. The book provided explanations and comparisons for words ending in ‘sion,’ and both the spelling and understanding of others words such as succeed, exceed and proceed.

There was also much debate, reference and equal examination to many similar sounding words, e.g., dying/dyeing, draft/draught, yew/you, place/plaice, pennants/penance, plane/plain, pitied/pitted, perjure/purgur etc.

The original author stated that the most effective way for adults to learn the spelling sets was by writing the words as often as possible. He provided some regularly used key examples of the day such as: - gigantic, tyrannic, historic, barbaric, alcoholic, patriotic, chronic, sympathetic, caustic, sceptic etc.

I have detailed some interesting key examples taken from the special skeleton police incident reports at the turn of the century from a fascinating generous index, they include, amongst others: -

Lesson 1Collision between an omnibus and a hansom cab. 

The horse in the hansom cab is injured and afterwards has to be killed…the report suggest how the police officer should record the incident.

It begins: I beg to report that at …. (pm) .... inst, a collision occurred at the junction of …. (street or road) and …. (road or thoroughfare), between omnibus …. (plate no) …. (driver’s badge no) .... (conductor’s badge number) .... (hansom cab no) .... (plate no) ….. (driver’s badge no) ....

The collision was caused by the driver of latter vehicle turning too sharply from…. (street)…. into ….. (street) and colliding with former vehicle before the driver could pull out of the way, The horse attached to hansom cab was thrown down, breaking both fore-legs.

I immediately sent for Mr …. (name). The veterinary surgeon of …. (address), who on arrival, caused the animal to be slaughtered and removed. I sent information of the occurrence to …. (name), of ….. (address), the owner of the horse and hansom cab, and at … (pm), men in his employ attended and removed the cab.

In the meantime, with the assistance of PC …. (number) …. I diverted traffic by way of  ….. (street or road), and ….. (street or road). At …. (pm), the traffic resumed its normal course. No other damage or casualties. Witnessed, and no expenses incurred by PC …. Reporting. Name .… Date ….

Lesson VI. A PC has been called to a private house where a person has been assaulted. 

State fully what steps should be taken (* This is also marked as an examination question). The skeleton report begins…. PC …. No ……(name), reports that at  …. (am) …. inst …. he was called by …. (name) …. (address) .… to a private house . … (address) …. by ….. (name). ….a lodger in the same house had assaulted him with an umbrella.

There being no marks of violence PC  …. referred the complaint to a Magistrate for a summons.

Some other examples with pre-written reports are: -

Lesson VIII. PC called to a private house to assist in the removal of a lunatic to the Infirmary.

(* Marked as an examination question). PC …. (no) …. (name) …., reports that at …. (pm) …. Inst, while passing (number) …. (address), parish of  …. (name), the relieving officer for the District called him and asked for his assistance in the removal of  …. (name), a lunatic, from above address to … (Infirmary) …. (street or road), as he could not manage him himself.

PC being shown the order for the order for above removal immediately assisted, and the lunatic was conveyed in four-wheeled cab, plate no …. (driver’s badge no) …. to the above Infirmary, where he was placed under restraint.

Lesson XIV. Horse suddenly taken ill in the street.

PC …. (no) …. (name) …., reports that at …. (time) …. (date) …. While on duty in …. (street or road), his attention was called to a horse attached to a cart, owned and driven by …. (name and address). The horse, which was in good condition and bore no marks of ill usage, had been taken suddenly ill while passing along the above street, and appeared to be in great pain.

PC sent for …. (Veterinary surgeon) …. (address) ….who stated that animal was suffering from cramp in the stomach. No blame was attached to the driver. In a short time, the animal was sufficiently recovered to be taken home by owner (as above). Witnessed by PC … (no) …. Expenses incurred, owner paying veterinary surgeon.

Lesson XV. PC injured on duty.

I beg to report that at … pm …. Inst, while on duty in … (street or road), parish of …. I heard shouts of ‘stop him’ and saw a horse attached to a light spring cart, with a bicycle entangled in the near side wheel, being driven at a furious rate along the above road.

I immediately called upon the driver to stop, and ran into the roadway and held up my hands with a view to stopping the horse; but the driver whipped the horse and urged it on. I then endeavoured to catch hold of the reigns and, in doing so, was knocked down, the near wheel of the cart passing over my left leg, thereby injuring the same.

The horse was stopped by PC …. (no) …. (name) …..  when it was found that the driver … (name)…. (age) …. of (address) …. Was drunk, and that he had previously collided with a bicycle belonging to …. (name) …. (address) …. Which had been left standing by the kerb in above thoroughfare, the owner of which machine had immediately pursued the cart, and cried out ‘stop him!’

The driver was then taken into custody by PC …. (as above), and charged with being drunk and furiously driving to the common danger of the public, thereby causing actual bodily harm to myself. I was subsequently seen by the Divisional Surgeon, who certified me to be suffering from severe bruises to left leg, and directed me to be placed on the sick list.

Lesson XIX. 

A fatal accident occurs through a defective coal-shoot, and while proceeding to the spot, cries of ‘murder’ are heard proceeding from the third floor of a house in the same street. What steps would you take?

PC …. (no)…. (name) …. Reports that at …. (pm) … inst, while on duty in …. (street or road), parish of …. (name), he was informed by …. (name)…. of (place), that a man had fallen over a coal-shoot in front of  …. (address), and while proceeding there, he heard cries of ‘murder’ coming from the third floor of No …. (same street).

PC …. (no) …. (name) …. Coming up at the time, was directed by PC reporting to see the injured man while he entered the house where the cries proceeded from, and on entering a room on third floor found …. (name), the former being drunk. On being questioned by PC, the wife stated that her husband, being drunk and quarrelsome, having threatened to strike her, she had screamed ‘murder’ to frighten him.

Seeing that no breach of the peace was likely to happen, PC left the premises and proceeded to …. (hospital), and on enquiring of the house surgeon respecting the injured man, as above, was told that he had several ribs broken, and had died shortly after admission from severe shock to the system.

Body now in hospital mortuary to await inquest. On the body was found a card bearing the following name and address …. (name) …. (address). Friends and Coroner’s office informed. Body subsequently identified by his wife. Owner of coal-shoot seen, who stated that coals had been delivered at his house that day, and that the plate must have been insecurely fastened, but was thoroughly secure now.

Lesson XXI.  A man carrying a plank on his shoulder, while crossing a street is knocked down by a bicyclist. State steps taken.

 PC …. (no) ….(name) …. Reports that at …. (time) …. (date) …. finding …. (name) …. (age) …. of …. (address) …. labourer in the employ of Messrs …. (name & address), builders, lying on the pavement in …. (street or road), parish of  …. (name), bleeding from a wound on the right hand side of his head and suffering from an injury to his right shoulder.

PC at once sent to station for ambulance and conveyed him to …. (hospital), where he was seen by Dr …. (name), house surgeon, who stated that he was suffering from a severe scalp wound and dislocated right shoulder, and detained him in bed …. (no) …. (ward) … (name).

The injured man stated that as he was crossing the above street with a plank on his shoulder, he was knocked down by a bicycle, rider unknown, who rode away at a furious pace in the direction of …. (place), and he was unable to give any description of him. PC made enquiries in the neighbourhood but was unable to find anyone who witnessed the occurrence. Friends and employer informed, and no expenses incurred by PC reporting.

Lesson XXIII.  PC called by a lady, who wished him to search the box of a servant, whom she suspects has stolen some linen.

PC …. (no) …. (name) …. Reports that at …. (time) …. (date), while on duty in …. (street or road) …. (parish or district), he was called by Mrs …. (name) of same street, who requested him to search a box, which was standing in the hall, belonging to …. (name), who was just leaving her employ, and whom she suspected had stolen some table cloths, pillow cases and table napkins and had hidden them in the box (as above). PC informed complainant that he had no authority to comply with her request, and referred her to a Magistrate; but advised her to ascertain, if possible, where the box was to be conveyed, in case of future proceedings.

Some of the special examination questions too were designed to test the policeman’s knowledge of everyday situations. I have enjoyed reviewing a selection of the tests in the book and have selected twenty questions relevant to that period. They include: - 

1). What must the damage to shrubs in a garden amount to before you could arrest?

2). What age must a person be before a publican can serve him with sprits, to be consumed on the premises? Also beer?

3). If you found a person insensible in the street, what steps would you take?

4). If you found the door of a dwelling house open at night, what would you do?

5). If several persons complained to you of great annoyance caused by a man employed at a horse dealer’s close by. What would you do?

6). What do you mean by ‘night?’

7). If the conductor of a tramcar called you to a man who refused to pay his fare, which he said he had already done, but could produce no ticket, what steps would you take?

8). During which time is a bicyclist bound to have his lamp alight?

9). If a person is committing a nuisance in a public thoroughfare, what is necessary before you can arrest?

10). During what time is a locomotive prohibited from passing through the streets of the Metropolis?

11). After what length of time, dating from time of injuries received, cannot a person be charged with ‘murder?’

12). How many vehicles may one person, at one time, drive along a highway, before chargeable, and under what conditions?

13). What is a ‘Common Lodging House?’

14). If you saw a woman whom you know to be a prostitute accost a gentleman in the street and could not hear what she said, but saw him waive her away with his hand, what steps would you take? And if you saw her repeat it, what would you do?

15). If a lodger in a house commits suicide, and the occupier wishes you to remove the dead body to the mortuary, would you do so?

16). What steps would you take if the landlord of a public house wanted to give a person into custody for refusing to quit?

17). At what time must an unlicensed refreshment house close?

18). If a person wished to bring an action against the police what must he or she do first? And after what lapse of time would it not be valid?

19). If you were on duty and saw an omnibus driver stop on a crossing would you order the driver to pull up higher, or what would you do?

20). If a person offered you the keys of his premises, which are on your beat, and requested you to go in occasionally to see that all was safe, what would you do?

In the latter part of the book and due to the economic and political climate of the time, the policeman was urgently required to have specific knowledge of many key issues that could occur during the course of everyday duties. Some of these included: -

1). For what offences can a Peer or MP and their servants be arrested?

2). When can an Ambassador or suite be arrested?

3). Can a private person arrest? If so, when and when not?

 Incidentally, I found these latter three questions quite intriguing from that period.

The answers were in fact (1). For treason, felony and breach of the peace. (2). For an attempt on the life of a Sovereign. (3). When a felony is being committed, and he sees it taking place, or sees a dangerous wound given. If under 21-years of age, he cannot arrest.

A felony was described as follows: - Felony is a more serious offence than misdemeanour and includes murder and attempts to murder and maim, rape, manslaughter, robbery and attempted robbery, burglary and housebreaking, cattle, horse and sheep stealing, receiving stolen goods, embezzlement, arson, nearly all cases of forging and coining, and assaults when armed.

Fortunately for most officers and for my own purposes of research, the answers were contained at the back of this book, together with all mathematical tables. 


  • If you have enjoyed the contents of this booklet, you might also enjoy the original book – Secrets of the Royal Detective (now available on Amazon Kindle), or the revised edition available as a paperback book and/or via download from Amazon Kindle entitled – Manchester Thieftakers – Policing in Victorian & Edwardian Manchester 1825-1914 by Don Hale. 

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