Ronnie quickly made himself at home in the Chief Constable’s house. He knew how to appeal to the low tastes of Tremble and thus get the manservant’s approval, always a valuable skill when dealing with servants. On the first two nights Sir Albert reminisced a little about Lady Geraldine but his mind was obviously elsewhere. On the third night, the reason for his distractedness became apparent. He had a big decision to make about appointing a leader for a new command being formed in the Wiltshire force. After dinner he and Ronnie settled down in the drawing room. Tremble, obviously elevated by drink, was dismissed for the evening. Cigars were lit, whisky poured and Sir Albert came straight to the point.
“Ronald. I’m establishing a new unit here in Wiltshire. It’s a modern, mobile column, organised on military lines and of platoon strength. There will be heavy weapons support included and the whole command will be motorised. Most of the personnel is already allocated but the commander, yet to be appointed, will need to be active in securing some of the supporting weapons and transport…..”
“But this sounds like an Auxiliary Police unit,” interrupted Ronnie “I thought you couldn’t abide them…!”
“You’re right, Ronald; I can’t. Establishing this unit could be described as, let me see….getting your retaliation in first, perhaps? I propose to set up this force for two reasons. First, to have an efficient, modern, mobile force available to confront disorder whenever and wherever it appears in the the South and South West. And second, to forestall any attempt to establish an Auxiliary police unit, in other words a para-military BUF unit, within my area.”
“Sounds exciting” said Ronnie
“I’m glad you think so because I’m about to offer you command of it.”
Ronnie was rarely lost for words but this development took him totally by surprise. “Me ? Me! But why? I’ve never been in the police. I’m also quite young. I’m flattered and delighted but also shocked and amazed.” He subsided into incoherent muttering and spluttering. He’d hoped Sir Albert may have something for him but this…!
“Ronald, men with the experience of genuine active service abound, thanks to the Great War. But they are no longer young enough for the rigours of command at the sharp-end. You are of the right age. And you combine unique qualifications that fit you for this role.”
“Yes, really. You’ve seen active service, been under fire, seen victory and defeat. You’ve shewn (Sir Albert was of an age whereby he not only spelled ‘shown’ with an ‘e’ but also promounced it thus) courage and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. And, importantly, you are the son of Lady Geraldine.” Sir Albert paused, his face was expressive of deep emotion, or perhaps, chronic dyspepsia. “The job’s yours, my boy, if you want it. I’ll give you a day or two to think it over.”
At such times, it was a lottery as to which part of Ronnie’s heritage came to the fore.
“No need, old cock…sorry, Sir Albert. I’m your man; when do I start.?”
At that precise moment, somewhere in the disreputable part of an industrial town, in the snug of a sordid pub, Stanley Bigsworth’s left knee began to twitch. The old crook smiled to himself. “Go to it, Ronnie,” he thought. “That’s my boy.”
Sir Albert, initially taken aback by the immediacy of Ronnie’s reply, chided himself on his old-fashioned attitude. Young Ronald was of the new generation- the Bright Young Things, the Jazz Age. Of course he’d make his mind up quickly – strike while the iron is hot; seize the day; grasp the nettle.
“Excellent. Ronald, you make me very happy. Right then; there’s work to be done. To begin with, this is what you need……