Residents on the mean streets of the Isle of Wight are bracing themselves for a massive increase in the number of mildly annoying incidents after Detective Sergeant Charles Potter took early retirement at the age of 58 last month. Only Potter’s willingness to dispense fatherly advice and the occasional clip round the ear had kept the lid on the seething cauldron of tetchiness that is the holiday island.
‘You can see things starting to deteriorate already,’ said Edith Barrett, 76, from Ryde. ‘Only last week, two gangs of young hooligans in their sixties calling themselves The Afternoon Tea Massive and Da Gammon Krewe were muttering insults at each other at the bowling club – one even threw a mint humbug at the window. On this occasion, a church lady saying ‘Really!’ in a firm voice did the trick, but how long will that work without the threat of a jolly good talking-to from Sergeant Potter to back it up?’
According to reports in the East Cowes Gazette, crime levels this year are already up 50% on the first six months of 1952, from six to nine. In one particularly harrowing incident, two ladies were brutally short-changed in a Sandown teashop, while there are also unconfirmed reports of three youngsters in their forties slightly damaging part of an amusement arcade in Ventnor after the claw repeatedly dropped the fluffy toy duck they thought they had won.
‘It’s tragic for us, but you can’t really blame Sergeant Potter for wanting to go after 35 years on the beat,’ said Geoffrey Winterbottom, deputy mayor of Shanklin. ‘The poor man must have been under terrible stress, what with all those endless cases of scrumping apples and even birdnesting. He seemed awfully pale over drinks at the Lodge last week. Personally I blame those young foreign hooligans from Hampshire, coming over here with their filthy habits.’
‘They ought to have their trousers taken down and be given a jolly good thrashing like I used to get off matron at prep school … um, will you excuse me a moment?’