We joined our new neighbours ‘Janet & John’ for a drink outside their Camper van, a really nice Hymer about a metre longer than ours.
They had put out some crisps, nacho’s and dip plus a few Olives.
John poured us a glass of beer each whilst Janet opened a bottle of wine.
The conversation centred around their van, why they’d gone for a Hymer and their travels to date, which is the standard fare on these occasions.
John explained that he hadn’t had the van long and this was their first big trip. He did let slip that he paid £30,000 for the van which he thought was good value as it was 9 years old with 20,000 on the clock.
They kept a boat in the South of France and in the past had spent their Holidays there but they wanted to explore a wider area so felt a Camper would allow them more freedom. He was considering selling the van as it was worth €100,000 but he ‘didn’t really need the money’.
This seemed to be going swimmingly. The Beer and the sunshine plus some company was all rather pleasant.
John told me he was retired but he had been a ‘Trouble Shooter’.
‘That sounds very exciting’. I responded.
‘More like a Hatchet Man’. Janet chipped in.
John felt the need to explain.
He joined the Army at 16 and did an engineering apprenticeship buying himself out after 12 years. It was here he learnt about ‘discipline, hard work and trust in the Establishment.’ Values he feels are lacking today!
On leaving the Army He found himself at the local job centre with copies of 105 job applications he’d sent off. Apparently the Job Centre were so impressed with this they told him they had ‘just the job for him’ and he found himself the manager of a factory employing 50 people with responsibility to ‘Hire and Fire’ as he saw fit.
There was then a very long winded story about two dirty whiskey glasses and a mattress that was burnt in front of the staff but at this point I must have drifted off as I seem to have missed the relevance of this story.
This was the start of John’s career in management. He had clearly discovered a talent that allowed him to go into any business or organisation anywhere in the world and within days identify problems that had eluded managers for years, thus saving the company and returning it to massive profits. All this involved was sacking people who John identified as incompetent or unnecessary.
He became so good at this, they made him redundant.
So he set up his own business, which allowed him to earn vast sums of money (presumably by sacking more people) whilst only working 3 months a year and spending the rest of the time on his boat.
At this point he asked me what I had done for a living.
I told him I had been a Nurse and then I’d joined the Fire Service.
He clearly saw me as a like soul and this gave him the opportunity to tell me about his 12 months as a ‘probationary Policeman’ in London. He wasn’t ‘Fascist’ enough to make a career of it, he suggested.
However, I was amazed at the depth of knowledge about all thing ‘Legal’ he had acquired in 12 months.
Apparently his mate had been on duty when Arthur Scargill had been arrested on a protest and he told us what a rotten prisoner Arthur had made. He went on to tell us in detail about the Miners strike and the ‘Rent a Mob’ that masqueraded as pickets.
He informed us he wasn’t much in favour of women in the armed Services or indeed in any of the Emergency Services. His eyes glazed over with nostalgia as he recounted scores of times when he had been called upon to break up fights or pub brawls supported only by some Lilly livered WPC. His heroism knew no bounds as he was required to put his life on the line protecting his female colleague rather than dealing with the incident correctly.
At this point he looked for me to support him.
“You must have experienced that with Female Fire Fighters eh Bill”?
I couldn’t really give John the support he needed and he looked a bit hurt but he soon cheered up when he got onto the subject of Women making spurious allegations of sexual misconduct against men years after the event. John didn’t think much of this. Most of these women had apparently known what they were getting into and now wanted to make some easy money.
He gave as an example, the case of Max Clifford who had been set up by people who had a grudge against him and ‘these Women’ were part of an orchestrated witch hunt. The fact that an independent Jury had listened to the evidence and come to the decision he was guilty didn’t seem to carry much weight with John. Referring back to his long and distinguished career as a probationary Policeman he knew ‘thing went on’!
John was enjoying himself so much he invited us to join them for a Chinese Meal later that evening, but we declined, choosing instead to BBQ our own Supper, safe in the knowledge that our very own PC PC was on the case.