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The Duchess Not Getting Enough!


The Duchess Not Getting Enough!

Z Cars was a British TV series in the 1960s set in the fictional town of Newtown. It was a highly popular show which led to other spin off shows and a step to Hollywood stardom for Brian Blessed, Fancy Smith in the series.

The real Newtown was in fact Kirkby, Liverpool. It was a vast overspill housing project to rehouse families from a heavily bombed Liverpool as part of the post WW2 housing plan.

Kirkby Police Station

Two of the main characters in Z Cars were Police Constables Fancy Smith and Jock Weir. They drove a Ford Zephyr police car. It bore no police markings but had a siren fitted and a drop down Police Stop sign in the rear window. Their VHF radio call sign was Z Victor One. The Z Cars officers wore police uniform and had a roving commission to patrol their ‘patch’. Their main brief was to act as first responders to calls for help if a crime or public disturbance was reported. That was in Newtown.

Back in Kirkby in the real world the same Ford Zephyrs existed with their crew of two real police officers. One of those cars was known by the call sign Z Quebec One. The radio traffic was routed through police HQ. The car VHF radio set had a large handset judged by today’s standards The officer in the car pressed a button in order to talk to ‘BD’. That is the call sign designated to the HQ Control Room. So if the officer wished to contact ‘BD’ he would press the button and say, “Z Quebec One to BD”. Then he would wait for ‘BD’ in the form of one of the operators to respond. “Yes Z Quebec One. Come in” meaning you can now talk as I am free to listen.

Radio protocol dictates that only one speaker at a time can engage with ‘BD’. Otherwise chaos ensues if there is a cacophony of voices. All other ‘Z Cars’ throughout the police force area are able to listen in to the chat on the radio.

One of the radio operators in HQ was known as the Duchess, owing to her cut glass English voice and pronunciation. More Queen like than the Queen in fact — but she was only known as the Duchess!

The night shift for police officers can either be highly exciting and possibly dangerous, or deathly quiet and extremely boring. It was the latter when this true story happened. The night was as still and quiet as the graveyard.

Something had to be done to alleviate the boredom.


Z Quebec One to BD

Yes Z Quebec One. Come in” crackled the unmistakable voice of the Duchess.

Z Quebec One to BD

Yes Z Quebec One. Come in

This dialogue was repeated another two or three times. The Duchess was becoming impatient!

Her tone became shrill as she repeated again –

Yes Z Quebec One. Come in” but now with emphasis on Yes and Come in.

Z Quebec One now decided it was the time to strike as they struggled to contain their giggles.

Six inches” said Z Quebec One. Just that, nothing more.

Z Quebec One. Come in please.” Spoken in frosty cut-glass diction with frustration and more than a little condescension thrown into the mix.

Z Quebec One repeated “Six inches” . Then utter silence once again.

The Duchess, already impatient, is now beginning to lose her regal calm and her authority over lesser mortals.

She snapped out over the airwaves: “Z Quebec One! Come in now!” in the manner of royals of old commanding their subjects.

Our giggling cops tried it one more time: “Six inches” spoken in the same clear unemotional tone.

“I am only getting six inches” the Duchess retorted in sheer exasperation and heard by every Z Car in the whole police force area.

The howls of laughter must have shook every Z Car in the county from Merseyside to the Yorkshire borders.

Stephen Bentley

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Published inCops and Barrister Stories

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