Cate Macabe brought us a vivid account from AJ Jackson’s life in our last post, during her life as a private investigator. More information about the memoir can be found here. Today I am going to share two excerpts of Norman’s chilhood memories of the law, a time of relative innocence when law and church worked hand in hand, influencing their flock (or not as the case may be!) Very pertinent in times when we are looking at policing policy and issues.
Photo of Norman at Boy’s Brigade Camp
1917 (Norman was 8 years’ old)
“Another funny story was about a little boy who lived up the road; his name was Aubrey. He got caught nicking something, an apple probably, and the minister said,
‘Aubrey, you shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t take anything and if you think you are going to do it again then you must say to yourself,
Get behind me Satan.’
Aubrey told us that next time he fancied an apple he said to himself,
‘Get behind me Satan,’
But Satan said, ‘You take it Aubrey.’
Well. (Norman laughed, his shoulders shaking and his eyes lit up with the
memory) What do you think of that? A bright kid though. I always remember that.
We went to church sometimes three times a Sunday; once in church and sometimes to Sunday school, then we had a bible class on Sunday afternoons and then church in the evening. We always had Sunday lunch and Sunday tea and the church bells would ring for the evening service at half past six. When I was about fourteen, in the afternoon we’d stroll around and get up to mischief at Tolworth, Molesey or Thames Ditton, looking for the girls.
We used to have some fun in those days.
This recent memory was at Norman’s lunch club. Now 102 years old, he found it harder than ever to find anyone who shared similar memories. In fact, he said that not only has all of his generation passed away now, but two generations below him too. This made it even more precious when he met this lady by chance. Bearing in mind they were recalling memories from the 1920’s and 1930’s it just emphasises how far we are removed from policing in those days, when police lived in the community and you knew them by name and more importantly they knew you!
“Just last week I met a lady from Mayfield Avenue who likes to have a jaw. I went down to the club one Thursday and as I went in to pay for my dinner she came up and said, ‘hello.’
‘You don’t generally come on a Thursday,’ I said.
‘No I’m up here to meet a friend, a new member. I’m just showing her the ropes,’ she said.
So that was that. I went away and when I came back all the people were
sitting around waiting to go into the dining room, so of course I passed them both.
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘This is my friend I told you about. She comes from Rectory Lane.’
‘Oh, Rectory Lane, that sounds interesting.’ I said this because there might be somebody down the line. Not in my age limit, but someone down the line. I always think I’m going to meet somebody like that; the next generation. My generation’s gone of course.
‘I said, ‘How long have you been living in Rectory Lane?’
‘Nineteen years,’ she said.
‘That’s only yesterday,’ I said. ‘I shan’t know anybody you know.’
So I sat down in the dining room waiting for all the people filling up and these two made a bee line and sat with me. We still talked of Rectory Lane.
‘In the Elms we had a swimming bath,’ she said.
‘Oh, you know about the swimming baths.’
‘Yes, they had a swimming bath in the Elms,’ she said.
‘I know that,’ I said. ‘It was started off as a pond with two Elm trees and we asked the man in charge, Mr Clayton, if we could have a swimming bath. We were always asking for something or other and he said yes. If you start digging it up I’ll finish it off. So that’s how the swimming bath started.’
She knows about the swimming bath I thought.
Then we talked about Aunt Sally, which was a cut through from Rectory Lane to Ditton Hill Road.
I said, ‘Harts lived in there and Skiptons on the other side.’
‘No, the Chataulphs lived there. They rented it off of Harts,’ she said.
‘That’s later,’ I said, ‘but what I know is that Harts lived in that house and the Gibsons in the next one.’
‘Well, my father in law was a police constable.’
‘What was his name?’
‘Berry!’ I said. ‘I know you husband. Stan. We used to go to school together.’
So now I’ve now met somebody I can talk to about my days.
She started off in Tolworth and then she lived in Ditton Hill Road. When they built houses at the other end of Rectory Lane they lived in one of those and I was the same age as her husband.
‘When did Stan die?’ I asked.
‘Thirty seven years ago,’ she said.
‘You didn’t get any pension then.’ She was a bit grieved about that.
‘Never mind,’ I said. ‘I’ve been drawing some of his for the last thirty seven years!’
Stan’s father was a policeman. At that time they had police constables all over the place. There were thirteen just up this road. Of course the Police Stations were in the little villages; one in Tolworth, one in Claygate and one in Kingston. They were scattered all over the place. I knew Berry and I knew Amos, another policeman who lived lower down.
Well Stan, her husband, we went to school together and we were in the boys brigade at the same time too!”