Policing Downshire in the Noughties – Bizzie Lizzie
Lizzie Bird was a 29 years old widow and a florist by profession and she owned her own shop, “Bizzie Lizzie”, in Abbottsford and had ambitions to open further shops in time.
She had worked hard to make a success of the shop and had made sacrifices over recent years to do it and relationships were one thing that she decided to forgo.
But as the shop was doing well and she had staff she could trust to ease her burden she had decided the she would address the aspect of her life she saw as one of her failings, but she wouldn’t force it.
One thing she didn’t neglect however, were her beloved Knights, which is why she found herself at Abbottsfield, the home of Abbottsford Town Football Club on a cool damp evening.
As she pushed through the turnstile the atmosphere was buzzing and the hairs on the back of her neck stood up.
She bought herself a program and quickly made her way to the north stand.
It was quite late and the ground was almost full and she wished she’d left the shop a little earlier.
When she reached the stand it looked full, a steward saw her looking and stood craning her neck looking for an empty seat, and Bill Overend waved an arm in the steward’s direction and gestured there was a spare seat.
The steward acknowledged the signal and a grateful Lizzie made her way up the steps.
When she arrived at the top of the steps, wrapped up against the damp night air, wearing a parka coat with the hood drawn up, nobody would have guessed what was beneath.
Before taking the vacant seat she unzipped her coat and pulled down the hood and to Bill’s surprise an attractive brunette emerged.
“Thanks” She said to Bill. “I was beginning to think I was out of luck.”
“Pleasure” Bill replied.
“I’m really grateful” She said. “I’m Liz, Lizzie”
“Well I’m pleased to meet you Liz, Lizzie. I’m Bill.”
She nodded and settled herself into her seat.
When the Half time whistle blew it was greeted with a mixture of great relief and jeers of derision, as the score was: Abbottsford Town 0, Forest Green Rovers 0
“Well that wasn’t good,” Tom Powell said. “In fact it was crap”
“Rovers have settled for a point then” Bill added.
“That’s for sure.” Said little Ken Cake
“I can’t remember a time I enjoyed hearing the half time whistle more” Bill said shaking his head.
“He’s got to change things around now” Bob Philips suggested.
“That was awful” Was the best Tom could manage.
“I need a drink after that” Said Ray Robinson
“You always need a drink” Bob responded. “I think I’ll join you.”
As they made their way out towards the club bar Ken asked.
“I’m going for a hot dog, can I get one for you Bill?” Asked Ken.
“No thanks Ken” Bill answered. “Can you get me a coffee though?”
“What about you young lady?” Ken said addressing Lizzie.
“Oh thank you. A coffee please, black” She said “Thanks.”
“I’ll come with you Ken” Offered Tom.
“Are you coming John?”
“Yes, I think I will” Replied John Holt
When everyone else had left, Lizzie turned in her seat to speak to Bill.
“Your friend is very kind.”
“Yes Ken is a nice bloke” Bill answered. “In fact they’re all nice actually, A real good bunch.”
“Do you often come to the match on your own?” Bill asked.
“No, this is the first time in years” She replied. “I used to come with my husband, Kenny, and then after he died I’ve been coming with my brother but he had to work tonight and I didn’t want to miss it” She raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pry.”
“That’s ok, it’s been two years now” she confided and Bill thought for a few seconds.
“You look very familiar, do I know you from somewhere?” He asked.
“Right” She said doubtfully.
“That’s a very old line” She said with a laugh.
“I’m a very old man” He replied.
“You’re a dirty old man” Said Ken as he returned with the drinks. “Leave the poor girl alone”
“Even dirty old men need love Ken so leave me alone”
Bill and Lizzie took their coffees from Ken and thanked him, then Tom and John returned and took their places.
“Flowers?” Bill said and they all gave Bill a strange look, except Lizzie.
“Yes, definitely flowers” He insisted
Lizzie just smiled.
“Florist, you’re a florist” Bill said triumphantly and Lizzie nodded.
“Bizzie Lizzie” He said. “In Abbey View road.
“Yes, that’s me” She said. “And you?”
“Oh me? I’m a Policeman” He answered. “Detective Chief Inspector”
“In Abbottsford?” She asked.
“Do you know Jenny Hack then?” She asked
“I do” He said proudly. “She’s on my squad”
“Really? She’s my best friend, we’ve known each other since we were four”
“It’s a small world” Replied Bill.
“So you must be Overton, Overman, Overing” She struggled.
“Overend” He corrected.
“Overend, of course, she often talks about you” She said.
“Oh God” Bill said shaking his head. “I dread to think”
Just then Bob and Ray returned and the moment they sat down everyone else stood to greet the teams as they ran out for the second half.
At the end of a scintillating half, Abbottsford Town had won 2-0
The players would doubtless have taken a lap of honor had it not been for the pitch invasion.
The Police and stewards made no attempt to clear the pitch they just ensured that the players and the officials left the pitch in safety and weren’t hugged to death the supporters.
Some of them even hugged the referee and the Police, but eventually everyone calmed down and briefly reflected on what they had seen and began drifting away.
The friends said their goodbyes and pledged to be back in August.
“Bye Bill, bye everyone” Said Lizzie. “Nice to have met you all”
“Bye Lizzie, you know where to find us next season” Said Bill.
It had been busy in the shop since the match and so when she took the call from Bill Overend it was a very welcome distraction and she was pleased when the call had ended that she had something to look forward to.
Lizzie put the huge bouquet of flowers in the back of her car and closed the door and then drove the short distance to Abbottsford Police Station.
As she stood in the stairwell she could hear the muted cheers and muffled sound of sporadic applause and even a little distant laughter.
She pressed her ear against the door so she could follow proceedings, she recognized Bills voice immediately.
“I am of course referring to our own “little flower” the very lovely Jenny Hack”
More cheers, she couldn’t hear anything for a few moments then bills voice came through again
“Now I should just like to digress for a moment. It may have escaped your notice being that most of you are detectives, but the lovely DC Hack is in fact pregnant and not as I have heard mentioned in the canteen just fat and bad tempered” he said and provoked more laughter.
“As I have already mentioned Jenny is a very popular member of the team.
Now to prove just how popular you are we had a collection and it turned out that, either, everyone genuinely liked you, or were just pleased to see the back of you, but whatever the motive may have been they were exceedingly generous”
It went quiet again.
“I will now hand you over to Chief Superintendent Tiplady to present you with the gifts”
“Thank you Bill, firstly, I would like thank Jenny for her valuable contribution to the force and obviously look forward to her return”
“So with gratitude and congratulations please accept these gifts as a token of our affection”
That was Lizzie’s cue and she quietly pulled open the door and stepped inside and she stood at the back and watched as the procession of gifts were paraded to Jenny.
They quickly piled up beside her and were in danger of dwarfing her, there were twelve in all and they arrived in such quick succession that she had no time to open them.
When the last gift had been presented Tiplady spoke again.
“Finally from DCI Overend and myself” He announced and gave a theatrical sweep of his arm.
Lizzie stepped through the crowd with the huge bouquet, it was so large Jenny couldn’t see who was holding it until the very last second and it took a few moments for it to sink in but when she saw who it was she burst into tears.
“What are you doing here?” Jenny sobbed
“When Bill called to order the flowers I asked if I could bring them myself and he said yes” Answered Lizzie and then gesturing towards the presents she added.
“And anyway it looks as if you’re going to need some help getting this lot home”
“When we have all composed ourselves and opened the gifts I suggest we make our way over to the “George” and wet the baby’s head” Said Tiplady.
“You don’t wet the baby’s head until after it born” Overend said.
“Whatever” Retorted Tiplady.
Bill walked over to Jenny’s desk and watched while she and Lizzie ripped open the paper on parcel after parcel.
“If you’re not happy with anything I have the receipts so you can change it” Bill said.
“They’re all just what I wanted” Jenny said in amazement.
“As much as I would like to take the credit we got a list from Bob” Said Bill.
“Boris!” Bill shouted.
“Guv” Boris said as he appeared from behind a pillar.
“Can you organize some labour to get Jenny’s stuff down to her car?”
“That’s alright sir I’ll do it later” Jenny said.
“Nonsense you are going to have an enjoyable lunch in the pub and then you are going home"
Jenny started to speak again.
Bill wagged a finger in her direction.
“Ok sir” She answered feebly.
As Bill walked off towards his office Lizzie leant in close to Jenny and whispered.
“Who’s the one with the black hair and the Gypsy eyes?”
“Oh that’s Boris” Jenny answered quietly. “He’s a nice bloke, single”
Lizzie gave her a stern look although she did rather like the look of him, and in truth she hadn’t looked at anyone like that since Kenny died but then her defense mechanism kicked in and she made light of it.
“Does he have pierced ears?” Asked Lizzie.
“I don’t know, why?”
“Because I think men who have pierced ears are better prepared for marriage than those without, because they’ve already experience pain and are accustomed to buying jewelry” she said and they both laughed.
Jenny and Lizzie were amongst the first to arrive in the George and Dragon, which was the favourite watering hole for the local constabulary.
Jenny had had to make one of her many trips to the ladies so while Bill Overend was getting in the drinks Lizzie was amusing herself by studying the pictures and posters which adorned the walls of the bar and suddenly a name at the bottom of one of the items caught her eye, it was a framed poem, which had also been beautifully illustrated, and just at that moment she had finished reading it Bill returned from the bar.
“Well you’re a man of hidden talents” Said Lizzie. “Do you still write poetry?”
“Oh yes, though not as often as I’d like, but I still write, I find it relaxing particularly when I’m working on a difficult case”
“Isn’t that difficult though working on a case and writing?” Lizzie asked
“Not really, after all a poem or rhyme is just another kind of puzzle to solve. A bit like detective work, it’s simply arranging the words so they fit and make sense instead of the facts and evidence” He answered
“Have you ever had anything published?” she asked
“Good God no!” he exclaimed “I only do it for my own amusement and no one publishes this kind of poetry, Haiku seems to be in vogue now”
“What’s Haiku?” She asked.
“It’s a Japanese verse form of three short lines, very dull.”
Just then Jenny returned from the ladies.
“Alright flower are you ready for a drink now?” Asked Overend.
“Yes please, white wine spritzer, heavy on the spritz”
Bill went to the bar and left the girls talking.
“He’s a nice man, your boss” Said Liz.
“Yes he is” Jenny answered suspiciously.
“There’s no need to look at me like that, all I said was he was a nice man”
“I know I’ve been trying to fix you up ever since Kenny died but I didn’t have Bill Overend in mind”
“I just thought he was a nice interesting man” Lizzie said in her defense.
“Nice and interesting” Jenny said raising an eyebrow.
“Look apart from the fact that he’s too old for me he’s also married” Lizzie said firmly. “But he is a nice man”
“Hmm” Jenny said
“Now what’s this Boris like, I like the look of him?” Lizzie said
“Boris is a nice bloke, he needs some work but he is nice and he’s single” Answered Jenny.
“They all need some work” Lizzie said.
“Like fine wine, they start out as grapes, and it’s a woman’s job to stomp on them and then keep them in the dark until they mature into something you'd want to have with dinner”
They both laughed raucously as they walked to join the rest of the group.
As DCI Overend and Chief Superintendent Tiplady stood at the bar dispensing drinks Jenny and Lizzie settled themselves in the corner and one by one, drink in hand, Jenny’s colleagues joined them
Detective Constables Webster, Pidd and Chute were first to sit, then Boris Katarski sat next to Lizzie.
Pippa Mead and Grace Suddaby both pulled up chairs to join the group and then Griffin and Khan arrived and Tiplady said
“Just in time Gentlemen order your drinks and then you can start taking over these adjacent tables”
There was a lot of chatter during lunch and Lizzie spent much of the time flirting with Boris who got quite embarrassed at her attentions, and she was surprised at her behavior it was completely out of character.
At the end people began to drift back to work taking it in turns to say goodbye to a tearful Jenny who was slightly merry.
Before DCI Overend left he looked amusingly at the bleary-eyed Jenny Hack and said.
“I think we need to get you a lift home flower”
“I’ll drive her home Bill” Said Lizzie.
“Thanks Lizzie” He replied.
“What about my car?” Slurred Jenny.
“Boris can drive your car home and Frank can follow on and bring Boris back”
“That’s alright I can drive Boris back to the station” Offered Lizzie.
“Are you sure that’s ok?”
“No problem.” She replied feeling rather pleased with herself.
After Tiplady and Overend took their turns to say goodbye, a small group briefly remained, Boris, Frank, Pippa, Lizzie and Jenny.
While the men had gone to the toilet Pippa fished in her bag and brought out a neatly wrapped little package.
“This is a little something to say thanks for your help with ... well you know.”
Jenny beamed a tearful smile and Lizzie looked puzzled.
“Thanks Pip, that’s really sweet”
Just then Boris came back and they gathered Jenny and her belongings together and ushered her outside.
On the drive to Jenny’s, Lizzie asked
“What was all that about with Pippa?”
“What?” Jenny said
“Mysterious Pippa and her “Well you know”” Lizzie said
“Oh that, I just gave her some able assistance with her burgeoning relationship with local business man Donald Clifford” Jenny answered
“Clifford’s Biscuits? That Donald Clifford?” Lizzie asked
“Yes that’s the one” Jenny said smugly “I was cupid”
An hour later Jenny was safely at home in the care of her husband Bob.
When Boris had parked Jenny’s car on the drive he and Lizzie helped Bob unload the gifts and flowers and by the time they had finished Jenny was fast asleep on the sofa.
And on the journey back to Abbottsford Lizzie hoped Boris might ask her out, she had given him all the signals after all.