A NEW KIND OF CENTRAL HEATING

By Len A.Hynds

Dixon of Dock Green

There were several funny incidents that occurred during 1950, moments of light relief amongst the drama and sadness that most policemen experience.

I was on night duty on the Brixton Road Crime Patrol, which consisted of four hundred yards of shops, both sides of the road, starting at the Oval, Kennington, London.

It was a cold clear night, when just normal breathing showed as wisps of steam. There were plenty of deep doorways to get away from the cold and to have the occasional crafty cigarette.

In a side road, (Cranmer Road) was a fish and chip shop, which also sold Saveloys, faggots, pies and Pease pudding. It closed at midnight and the owner liked the PC on duty in Brixton Road to walk down at closing time and move on any drunks or troublesome people. For that small service, the PC could choose whatever supper he wanted.

I had chosen piping hot fish and chips, liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Hiding it at my side I returned to Brixton Road, and getting into a deep shop doorway, I unwrapped, it and started to partake.

Fish and Chips in newspaper I had just started eating when I saw the Duty Inspectors car coming along slowly, and obviously looking for me. I had nowhere to hide my supper, so wrapped it quickly as best I could, and put it beneath my helmet. I stepped out onto the pavement so that he could see me and saluted him as he was about to drive by.

I had a sinking feeling when the car stopped, and he got out and walked towards me. I saluted again, and reported, "All correct sir," and he said that he would walk the patrol with me. So off I went again, trying all those door handles, with him beside me, and trying to carry on a normal conversation.

The trouble was that the fish and chips must have come out of the paper, and I could feel that it was burning the top of my head. Coupled with that was the overpowering smell of vinegar, and I could feel something trickling down the side of my face.

When we returned to his car, I was facing a plate glass window as we spoke, and with horror I could see my reflection, and from the four air vent holes in the helmet, two on each side, spirals of steam were rising in that cold night air.

As he got in his car and drove off, he was grinning all over his face. I hadnít fooled him one bit.