Policing Downshire in the Noughties – Hard Work and Good Fortune
Detective Chief Inspector Bill Overend often referred to himself as “optimistically middle aged”, because although there was no guarantee that he was in the middle of his life, he was nonetheless optimistic.
He was actually forty-five years old, at least for the next twenty-one days, and he knew only too well that he had likely long since seen the middle of his life.
He described himself as “a well-made man” not in a conceited way and not in the terms of an Adonis or someone of Herculean stature but more like solid, sturdy or robust, some might even say, “Well built”.
But he liked to be thought of as “well made” it was an old-fashioned expression, which his father always used, and he liked it for that reason as much as any other.
The few enemies he had were less flattering about his 6-foot 4-inch, 18 stone presence.
But he was a popular man, in the job as well as out of it.
As if his height and size did not make him distinctive enough he also had close-cropped Grey hair, that is, what had not already fallen out had turned Grey, and a predominantly Grey beard, and his children often told him he had his head on upside down.
It was a cold March night, well early morning actually, as he stood alone in the back garden of his four bedroomed detached home in the idyllic village of Chapel Hill.
He and his family had lived there for almost ten years and they all loved it there so much.
Life had been good to them and they had a very comfortable and rewarding life, but it had not always been so.
It had taken a combination of hard work and good fortune in equal measure to get to where they were on that chilly March night.
He and his wife of twenty-six years, Sally, had always been happy in each other’s company but life had been more difficult and testing at times.
When they were first married they had a dingy two room flat in Nettlefield, a sprawling commuter town in the north of Downshire, which was also a military town and home to the Downshire Light Infantry, about ten miles and nearly twenty-five years away from where he stood on a March night.
They got out of there after two long years of hard work, with Bill doing as much overtime as he could get, and Sally working days for a Paper Merchant as an office assistant and three evenings, and the occasional weekend, waiting tables at a Pub restaurant.
The Boars Head
On the rare occasions that they were not working they spent quiet evenings planning their future and not spending anything else.
There only vices being the occasional bottle of wine and smoking roll ups.
So, in time they managed to scrape-up enough money for a deposit on a one-bedroom shoebox on a new development on the outskirts of Northchapel.
But they still had to keep working the long hours and extra shifts to meet the mortgage payments.
Mortgages were new territory for both of them, as no one in Bill’s or Sally’s family had ever owned their own house before.
Then after a little over a year in their new home Sally broke the news that she was pregnant.
She was very worried about telling him and she delayed giving him the news for almost three days before she finally blurted it out, as a result of fear, and simple delight and a need to share her joy.
But she need not have worried as he was as delighted as she was, and they were so exited that they danced around like march hares for what seemed like hours, even though this was not part of the plan, yet they could not have been happier.
The unexpected news of Sally’s expectancy did cause some problems, the main one being that the house was far too small for another person, however little they might be.
They could have decided on an abortion and delayed the family a few years but that didn’t sit well with either of them, and they dismissed the thought almost as soon as it came to mind.
Not that they were part of the anti abortion lobby it just wasn’t for them, they simply believed that what was meant to be was meant to be.
After Sally had told Bill she was pregnant, they put the house on the market and sold it within two days and with the housing market booming they made a very healthy profit.
However, the size of house they were looking for they just couldn’t afford even with the equity from the shoebox they had just sold.
They could have borrowed the extra money and taken out a bigger mortgage, but they would never have been able to meet the payments with only one salary coming in, then out of the blue came a turn of good fortune.
One evening there was a knock at the door; it was an old school friend of Bills, Dave Butcher.
He had joined the RAF as an aircraft fitter as soon as he was old enough, but they had stayed close friends and regularly kept in touch and they got together whenever possible.
“Butch” was an only child and had inherited the family home, a three-bed semi in Abbottsford, when his Dad died suddenly of a heart attack only eighteen months previously, and his Mum had died when he was only four from a brain tumor.
Bill and Sally had taken care of the funeral arrangement as the news had hit him hard and supported him through the grieving process.
“Butch” and his Dad were very close, and he took it really badly.
When they had announced they were getting married, out of all their friends and family only Butch, and Sally’s best friend Janice had supported them.
Everyone else had said they were too young, that they should wait, and they should experience life a little first.
Sally’s parents were horrified when she told them she didn’t want to go to Art College and that she needed to get a job, so she could start saving up because she was going to marry Bill.
They had thought that she would grow out of it and thought that it was just an infatuation, an immaturity thing, and when she came to her senses she could just go to Art School the following year instead.
They didn’t know her as well as they thought they did however.
Suffice is to say they didn’t think Bill was good enough for her but then no parent really believes that anyone is good enough for their daughter.
Bills parents on the other hand didn’t want him to tie himself down so early in his life, even though they loved Sally almost as much as he did, they just wanted them to wait for a year or two.
Never the less, despite the misgivings on both sides of the family, they married in 1985, she was nineteen and he was twenty, Janice Monk was bridesmaid and Dave Butcher was best man.
When Butch called round, he said that he needed a favour, as he was being posted to Sardinia and would be there for the next three years, so he needed someone he could trust to house sit for him while he was overseas.
He still couldn’t bring himself to sell; as the place still had too many memories for him.
“You could rent it out,” Sally suggested.
“It needs doing up before I can let it” Dave countered.
“And I only have 4 weeks leave”
So, he wondered would they help him out and house sit while he was abroad, rent free, on the condition they did some of the maintenance.
They knew they would not be doing him as much of a favour as he would be doing them, this was his way of thanking them for being there for him when his Dad died, so they happily agreed, and they lived there for three years which gave them the time to save for the next move.
Isabel’s birth was followed by another daughter Abigail then sons Daniel and Harry luckily his promotions followed at a similarly frenetic pace to keep pace with his growing family.
The miners’ strike in the 80’s helped to grow many a Policeman’s savings fund due to overtime and subsistence payments.
It was on the last occasion after returning from a stint in the Nottinghamshire coalfields that Bill found himself in the right place at the right time.
There had been a gruesome discovery in woodland near the sleepy village of Pepperstock Green, where the murdered and mutilated bodies of Anne Gresty and Juliana Molesworth lay.
Detective Inspector Walter Quilty had been asked to put a murder squad together to investigate and Bill was picked for the squad.
This great opportunity came at a time when he had pretty much given up any ambitions of being a detective, he thought he would just study for his Sergeants exam and stay in uniform for the duration of his career.
Getting onto a murder squad was one of the most difficult things in the life of a P.C. but not as difficult as staying on it or indeed joining CID permanently.
One of the older hands on the squad told him “The trick is to get noticed, but for the right reasons, and without it being obvious you are trying to get noticed”
But Bill wasn’t prepared to play that kind of game; it seemed more trouble than it was worth to him.
So, he decided to leave all the tactics and brown nosing to his more ambitious peers, besides because of his size he was a difficult man not to notice, he would just have to make sure he did what he was asked and hope for the best.
As it turned out he needn’t have worried, Quilty had noticed Bill on several occasions during the course of the investigation and had been impressed with the quiet assuredness in which he handled his assignments and some of the more delicate situations they sometimes found themselves in.
So, although he didn’t know it at the time DI Quilty had already earmarked Bill for the team even before Bill turned up the vital links, which lead to the arrest of the killer.
It turned out that the two women were lovers and after thorough searches of their homes Bill discovered that they had a friend in common and that mutual friend was Nicola Cuffe, who was also a lesbian.
She had formerly been involved in a sexual relationship with both of the dead women, although not at the same time.
When she discovered that her former lovers were now lovers themselves it enraged her to the point of committing murder, twice.
The act of mutilation was perpetrated out of sheer spite after what she discovered after she had killed them both.
As if finding out Juliana and Anne were lover wasn’t enough she then found their love letters and the knowledge that they were not just lovers but in love as well tipped Nicola over the edge, so it was a crime of passion.
Detective Inspector Walter Quilty always liked to make new appointments to the team personally.
His favorite location for this, at any station, was the police canteen not because he took any pleasure in the foul brew misleadingly dispensed as tea, but because that was where people tended to be more relaxed and less formal.
Some DI’s liked to do it in the pub over a drink or two.
Walter Quilty didn’t drink himself; he didn’t care if others on the team drank as long as it didn’t affect their work in any way.
So, when Quilty walked into the canteen Bill had no idea of his purpose in being there.
Having collected a mug of something brown, wet and luke warm he made his way towards the table occupied by Bill and another PC, John Holt.
John was the same age as Bill but joined the force two years after him and they had become firm friends.
He and his wife, Mary, were to be godparents to his first child Isabel.
“Morning gentlemen” he said, and then he sat down and stirred his tea and looked across at John Holt.
John fidgeted nervously and ran his finger inside his collar, excused himself and left.
If he’d stayed under Quilty’s stare any longer he felt he would have confessed to something, anything.
With PC Holt out of the way Walter turned his gaze upon Bill.
“That was good work on the Pepperstock case constable Overend” The DI said looking suspiciously at his tea.
“Thank you, sir,” Replied Bill
“How would you like to get out of uniform permanently?” Quilty asked “and join my team?”
“Very much sir”
“Do you think you can handle it?” Questioned the DI
“Ok I’ll square it with Superintendent Foxton” Said Walter as he stood, leaving his tea.
“Unless you hear otherwise report to CID tomorrow, eight thirty”
The DI said over his shoulder as he walked away.
By the time Harry arrived Bill had made Inspector and his boss was promoted to DCI
This was on the back of their success in solving a very high-profile child abduction case.
Arresting both abductors as well as securing the child’s release, unharmed.
Bill inherited most of his predecessor’s team plus the addition of two new transfers Detective Constable Boris Katarski and Detective Sergeant Tom Adamson.
Bill was very much a first impressions kind of person and when he overheard the two men talking he knew they would fit right in.
“Katarski? What sort of name is that? Where the hell does a name like that come from?” asked the DS.
“Cricklewood, Sarge” he answered walking away.
“Ask a stupid question” Adamson muttered to himself.
Bill chose Tom Adamson as his DS and he never regretted it.