Tuesday, 9 June 2009
S`not my job, mate.
I had a chuckle when I read this one from Inspector Gadget about the jobsworth's and the body in the wheelie bin. It prompted me to recall a time in sarf-East London when our night shift was summoned to the local railway station. A train driver had reported `hitting something` as he was about half a mile from the station and thought it might have been a man. Our inspector and a local British Transport Police officer gathered us together and, with the appropriate precautions in place, we started a line search just as dawn was breaking. It wasn't long before we started to come across the usual grisly bits and pieces associated with a ten stone human coming into contact with several hundred tons of fast moving train. Within half an hour we'd located pretty much everything except the head. Our diminished search team set off to sweep the area where we'd found the torso and where we expected to locate the final part of this awful human jigsaw. We'd covered pretty much everywhere we thought it could have landed, but found nothing. As we re-grouped around our glorious leader for another think, a railway worker appeared from behind a hut at the side of the track across from where we were standing and shouted out the strangest thing I think I've ever heard, "Oi, are you lot looking for a head"? Quick as a flash, our witty Inspector shouted back, "No mate". The rail worker just stood there looking a little lost. The Inspector waited a few seconds, milking the moment for all it was worth, before shouting, "Why, have you got one"? With that the bloke disappeared behind his hut and re-appeared with a galvanised metal bucket. Sure enough, it contained a head and, as luck would have it, it was the one we were looking for. I often wonder what he would have done if the inspector hadn't followed up with that crucial question. My second grisly tale comes from a dark, drizzly winters night in Ruralshire, when we took a call from a man whose wife we knew well. She was a poor troubled soul who had made many attempts to take her own life and it sounded like she'd succeeded on this occasion. We located the poor thing's remains along a fast stretch of line way out in the sticks. She'd lain across the line and was cut in two, quite neatly considering. In the time honoured fashion, we had to call a police surgeon to the scene to pronounce life extinct, even though the body was in two parts, about 30 yards apart. The Doc duly arrived, just after the acting sergeant from the neighbouring sub-division, a young chap who was destined for higher things and desparately wanted to take charge of the scene. Being a `veteran` sergeant with 3 years in the rank I happily allowed him the honours. The police surgeon arrived and came straight up to me, probably for two reasons; 1. I had the real stripes on my tunic and 2. He knew me quite well as not only was he a regular visitor to my station on general police surgeon matters but also, he had only that week performed a vasectomy on me. His first words were `Hello Mr Hogday, how's the stitches`? The high flying acting sergeant dived in as he clearly wanted to take the lead and keenly gave him a full briefing, explaining straight out of the book, why we had called the Doc and asked him if he would examine the victim and pronounce `life extinct` in order that we could continue the investigation. The surgeon looked at me and I explained that acting sergeant Newbie was in charge of this one. "very well" he said and, with a poker-straight face continued, "I can confirm that this half is definitely deceased but I haven't checked that half over there yet". The acting sergeant, still too tightly focussed to realise the dark humour, smartly ushered him over to the other remains to see if that was dead too, whilst the rest of our little trio had a quiet chuckle, as only police, ambulance, fire and other practitioners of the dark arts of dealing with life and death can. Disclaimer: I make no apologies for what may seem my irreverence at the scene of these grisly events, the images of which remain with me if I choose to think of them, but nevertheless wish to assure anyone reading this that all relatives were treated with the utmost compassion and dignity.