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Poetry Magnum Opus

"Old Bill" (also a nickname for the Police)

Frank E Gibbard

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Frank E Gibbard

Old Bill, well seriously that was his name (not much he could he do about that now at age 75) was holding forth with his grand-kids demonstrating his treasured policeman's whistle, a still working if a touch rusty, Acme Thunderer. Last time he offered to show the kids his truncheon he'd got in awful trouble due to a little misunderstanding so it was good that bit of embarassing nonsense was behind them and he had been allowed access again. He liked nothing better than sharing stories of his time in the Force with young people the more so if they just happened to be his favourite youths on the planet.


It was understood by his daughter-in-law that with her permission he would bring round those remaining prized souvenirs of his, the truncheon from constable days, the whistle, the sergeant's badge and warrant card and some other accoutrements of a full 35 years service. Bill reckoned Robbie and Andy seemed bright-eyed enough given the screen staring he had just disrupted when he had arrived in their sitting room, something called x-box apparently, meant nothing to him naturally being some new game like that American and felonious sounding auto theft one. A painful reminder came to mind of an upcoming x-ray, stay young as long as you can boys he thought, you don't want to be old.


The whistle, having been fished from a slightly less antique cardboard container marked Maxwell House Intant Coffee was occupying the attention of two modern youngsters and surprisingly, they were even actually vying for next use, or dibs as he'd have said, and enjoying the unfamiliar noise produced. And what a noise, peircing notes enough to have Mum looking in at the door and saying: "that'll do if you don't mind boys," your granddad's heard too much of that by now, meaning of course - she had. "Keep it down please for the next hour and don't overtax our visitor. I'll bring you some cokes and cakes, oh and tea and biscuits of course Bill, will digestives do?" She smiled and retired to her TV soap in the adjoining room.


Robbie piped up: "did you have a whistle for your dog then grandad?" "No bless you no this very whistle, gesturing with the Thunderer in the air olympic torch style, was our communicator, issued me as a young bobbie, a bit like your name funnily come to think of it, Metropolitan Police standard equipment, mine to keep for perpetuity, that's fancy-speak for life by the way my boy. One blast out of this beauty and a mate would come running to help me collar some villain or assist the public because he'd know I was in trouble, if one was in earshot of course, we'd hope so anyway." "Why didn't you call on a radio?" asked Andy. "Never had one in my day on the beat Andy my lad. We had them in cars naturally, I wasn't PC49 or Dixon of Dock Green after all you know, just a bit younger than them." The boys looked at each other in puzzlement, don't ask they thought simultaneously as if twins, which they weren't, but unanimous in the opinion that the old fellow must be rambling again.


"Oh I nearly forgot we had the use of any available police boxes," Bill said, and the two boys scowled at each other and watched the old man digging deep into his trophy box until he suddenly held before them a simple key, big deal they thought he's really lost it if he believed this would impress them who have access to the whole internet at a mouse touch, some stupid key's nothing to us. "Direct line to headquarters with this here key. Opened any and all telephone boxes in our area. Mine was on the High Street, you must have seen it? Special blue boxes they were and only I and other officers could get in, with one of these keys. Master of our own universe lord of all you survey if you got one I used to think, useful too if it's raining, ahem, " he mused. His temporary charges were suddenly agog to hear more to back up what had just ignited and fired them up to almost incandescent fervour. But Bill was lost in his own space of reminiscence, the brothers got together whispering in close communion.


Young fantasy-fuelled minds were sweatily mulling over particular words ... Communicator ... Master ... Universe ... Lord." Blue box, special key. It all fitted like that old key. Yes! Doctor Who, the Time Lord, was grandad a Time Lord? Well some of them were old, weren't they? In the uncolour ones they'd seen Dad made them watch. One very very old Doctor, and Bill was very old, old as time to them. Who'd believe that? Who'd believe them, they both wanted to believe, with that naive fervant hope of youth not as grown-up as it pretends to be. How cool, it'll be when they went to school, but they did see the key and that box is not on the corner where he said. It's disappeared, hasn't it? "Granddad have you got a sonic screwdriver?"


Just then mother intervened. "Nearly time for Bill to go home," she said. "Lads, let's be putting away our toys young and old. My programme made me late and I've got to run and deliver Bill back to the home." He's got loads of time they thought, Mum doesn't know, we won't tell her, just our friends. It would be a secret shared by them from the adults. Oh and granddad until he had to go. But then he would regenerate wouldn't he? So that's not so bad. Now, where were those cakes?

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