Saturday 19 November 2011: Photo of a photo...
A very special photo.
When sorting though my mum's stuff last week, there was an assorted bundle I put to one side to look through and enjoy when I had more time. Today I had more time. :-))
This is my mum's Metropolitan Police graduation / passing out photo and if you look closely at the bottom left hand side of the pic, you will notice the date is 19th November 1960. 51 years ago to the day (19.11.60 also fell on a Saturday) I know exactly what my mum was doing! :-) She is second row from the front, fourth from the left. The short one (she only just scraped through height wise!)
She was 20 years old when she decided to leave the small, ex-mining village in west central Scotland where she was born and grew up and head to the bright lights of London to join the Met.
She shared many, many thrilling, scary and mind-boggilingly scandalous stories of her time in the Met and some side splitting funny ones as well.
One of my favourites (because it highlights the parochial outlook of most villages like the one she left) is of when she was working undercover as a "lady of the night" and standing at a street corner near Soho wearing a long coat with a rather tight and revealing dress beneath.
A bus passed where she was standing (I'm assuming it was one of the tourist type buses but she never clarified) and it just so happened that a family from her home village was on it. Of course they spotted her and jaws dropped. She also saw them and was dying to wave but knew she couldn't blow her cover.
A few days later when she finished her shift and got back to the Section House, there was a message telling her she had to phone home urgently. Worried that someone in the family was ill, she phoned straight away, only for my gran to tell her that the family mum had seen on the bus had now arrived home and were busy telling everyone who would listen "Don't be fooled by the story that M.......... has joined the Met! We saw her and she's definitely NOT a policewoman!!!!" hahahahahahaha!
Undercover work was her absolute favourite but sadly that came to an end in March 1964 when an act of bravery whilst on duty saw her become headline news all over the world and ultimitely be awarded the George Medal. Too well known now to stand on London's street corners! :-))
On Thursday a book was published, which her story forms part of. The Brave Blue Line - 100 years of Metropolitan Police Gallantry by Dick Kirby.
I am so proud of her and of all her achievements. I only wish she had been able to see the book in print although she was always so modest (to the point of dismissiveness) about her brave act that day (anyone would have done the same was her war cry!) and was a little embarrassed at featuring in the book.
I disagree though and I'm not at all sure, faced with the situation she was faced with, that I could have done what she did.
A very touching and personal letter of condolence sent to me by the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police confirms my belief that she was a very, very special Police Officer indeed.
And an even more special mum.