THE SCOTTISH PROFESSOR

By Len A.Hynds

It was the year 1955 and I was driving a police undercover Q car from the district garage back to my station and passing through the rather select district of West Dulwich. Although the car was just as a civilian car, I was in uniform, although I had placed my cap on the seat beside me. Stopping at a junction waiting for cars to pass, I must have been seen to be a policeman by a lady from inside her house.

She came running out to speak to me, saying that she needed some advice. She told me that her name was Macdonald, she being married to a Scottish doctor, who was away on a course at that particular time and couldnt be reached.

It transpired that she had just previously received a telephone call from an elderly gentleman, who asked her if her husband could be a distant relative as he had been told that he had a distant cousin, who was a doctor in Dulwich. She discussed with him what she knew of her husbands relations in Scotland and they both agreed that he was in fact a distant cousin.

The gentleman had spoken with a refined Scottish accent, and she asked what he was doing in London, as he said he was phoning from Kings Cross Station, and hesitantly told her that he was a Professor of Sheep Diseases, and had been invited to give a lecture at London University. He had travelled down overnight from Edinburgh, but had left his briefcase on the train rack, although he still had his suitcase. He then requested a favour, and asked if she could telephone a major hotel in London, stating that he would not be arriving until much later that day. She did this when she finished talking to him, and they confirmed that his suite would be held for him.

She asked him why, and he told her, that apart from some loose change in his pocket, all his money was in his wallet, with credit cards etc., and they were all in the briefcase. He had returned to the station but the train had left on its way back north. He had arranged for it to be taken off at Peterborough, and returned on the next train south in the care of the guard. He had no option but to wait at Kings Cross for his missing briefcase.

Feeling terribly sorry for him, she said that if he could get to her, she had 40 in cash, which she would gladly lend him.

I realised the lady still had some doubts, although feeling guilty in case she was wrong. I told her that I would secrete myself in her kitchen and listen to him through the closed serving hatch.

I hid myself in the kitchen, and could her them distinctly talking about the lost briefcase. He spoke at length about sheep diseases, and he certainly knew his subject. He was a fine looking old gent, and I could tell the lady was as convinced as I was.

When he left the lady was most apologetic for stopping me, but I assured her that she had done the right thing.

I drove away, and saw the old gent walking along, and decided to give him a lift to the nearest station. I wound the window down, but before I could say anything he said looking crestfallen, Ive had a good run for my money officer. I think you will find Im wanted in six counties.

Would you believe I got a write-up in dispatches for that one.

Professor wearing mortar board