During my time at the police training college in Dishforth it became my second home and my classmates became my new family. There was little we did alone and as a class we did extra running, extra studying for the final exam and had extra beers. There were no computers, no mobile phones and we talked and played practical jokes, a lot.
Every week we had a law exam which we all passed but it was building up to the big exam on the last week which would cover everything we had learnt. There was a high pass mark and if you did not pass you did not qualify. We had all spent time revising together and testing each other but getting a beer was important as well. The Packhorse bar opened at 8pm so we ended up queueing at the door to get in. The last week was a strange week as we seemed to be the only class in there until almost closing time. Others then would come in after their own extensive revision.
The final exam was a serious affair and taken much like a school exam. Complete silence and with invigilators patrolling the isles like prison guards. The only thing missing were snarling Alsatian dogs. Although I actually liked exams as they tested your knowledge I knew ever other class had really sold into the revision thing where as we had signed into the drinking and messing around thing. We were even threatened with being thrown out of the training school over a high stakes game of poker. Illegal gaming was one thing we did not cover during training but that pot would have been worth winning.
The results from the exams were fed through to the instructors of each class. We all passed and we also ended up with the highest class average of all the classes on the course. I know, we were like a woman whose facelift went to far. We all looked surprised but not as surprised as the head instructors. They called our class instructors in to be interviewed to see if they had given us the answer to various questions. Our reputation in the training school was such that we were expected to have a lot of failures. I think what it shows is that relaxing and having fun can be as important as serious revision.
Even the physical assaults in self defence had got easier. In the last week there was a huge transformation. The hoodie who had been ripping our muscles apart whilst laughing for the last ten weeks became human. His excuse was that he needed us to listen as what he taught us could save our lives. He was right and in the future I would find out. In that last week he gave us exactly the same lesson as the first one we had when we were all sick. It was so easy no one would believe it was the same lesson. I was the original butchers dog and I don’t think I have ever been as fit again. I was also an expert in dislocating arms and fingers of others.
I had passed the final exam, the first aid exam, the swimming exam and the timed cross country run. All that was left was the instructors assessments which included all the practical’s done on most days throughout the course. This was going to be a problem for me. You see, I thought I had managed to avoid the practical’s where as the rest of the class had done several each.
Each day we learnt the law in the classroom and then went out somewhere on the camp where we would put what we learnt in the classroom into a practical experience. One or more of the other instructors would play the part of the “not so innocent” member of the public. It may be a drunk, a car accident, someone stealing or anything but it would be strait forward. Someone out of the class would be chosen to act as the police officer. I remember an ex-forces lad in our class being picked to deal with a drunk. He decided not to speak but to jump on him, putting him in a headlock and dragging him toward the pretend police station. The play acting instructor was non to pleased and the louder he protested the firmer the headlock got. He literally had to be dragged off him. For some reason he did not pass that particular practical.
On that last week it was mentioned I had not done a practical so something needed to be done quickly. I was told to come to the front of the class and act as the station officer and deal with what I saw. Now, I will be honest here and say I don’t know what a rat smells like but if I did, it would smell like this. I was right.
Over the next half hour all the instructors from the other classes filed in one at a time and gave me some problem or other. One brought in an alligator, another a hand grenade and one played the best escaped mental patient I have ever seen. I remember giving the hand grenade to the alligator and sending it out in the station yard to fetch which solved those two problems in one go but the mental patient refused to go out with them and play. I am glad to say political correctness has moved on. Now we would send the mental patient and the crocodile into the yard. It is far easier to deal with the grenade.
Before we left there would be the class night out, or in as it was. The officers mess was to be the venue to a night of food, drinking and dancing with the instructors acting as waiters. It was a James Bond affair where dinner suits had to be worn (hired locally) and the ladies were to wear evening dresses. For some reason our class decided “Kilts” would be far better that dinner suits and we all agreed. Of course they had to be used in the traditional way which meant no handstands that night. Our reputation had once again beaten us to the door and each and every one of us had to submit to a “frisky frisk” before being allowed in. We were eventually granted entry in after getting more clothing.
The night is a bit of a blur but I do remember at some point the de bagging squad coming round and relieving me of my boxers. I had no idea just where they went until and very nice girl I met on the course gave them back to me as we propped each other up on the way back to … well back.
All that was left to complete the course was the final morning parade and the passing out parade in front of family and friends. On the morning parade a couple of us thought it would only be right to put all our uniform on backwards. It looked good but it meant a 9 o’clock parade. This involved coming back at 9 at night and being inspected before having to make a full security check of the camp. It meant no packhorse drinking but, it was worth it.
The passing out parade went well apart from being made to stand there for sixteen days. Actually it was just over two hours but it seemed an eternity. We did a lot of marching as well and looked immaculate. Hopefully our family and friends were as proud of us as we felt of ourselves.
It had been one of the best ten weeks of my life and the friends we all made were friends for life.
We were now officially police officers and sent back to our respective forces to earn a crust.
Next I will tell you about my first posting to Tower Grange in Hull and my first night shift when I was almost kicked out the job hours after starting.