Mr & Mrs Smythe
It was the kind of house you could smell before you saw it.
Not that we had been there before.
As a Sunday afternoon starter for ten, we had been given “male and female arguing” to rush round to. Being an unfamiliar address and even having to look up the road on a map made it intriguing. There is no such thing as a non-domestic related “male and female arguing” call on a Sunday afternoon. At least this one had the promise of some new sexual shenanigans to be discussed over the canteen table.
Following our noses we knocked on the door. It was opened by a very well groomed septuagenarian lady. This was either going to be a non-starter or a doozy for the canteen. Looking past her I could see a neat and tidy hallway, added to which it was silent. This made me check the address with the door opener.
“Yes, that’s correct. Do come in.” Mrs Smythe almost shouted, indicating a door off the hallway.
For the first time in a while I felt the need to wipe my feet on the way in. As we walked to the indicated door I could now hear some faint whirring coming from behind it. Unable to identify it I steeled myself and checked my baton was close to hand, before turning the door handle.
“Tea, officers?” Mrs Smythe shrilled from behind us.
“What the….? Err…. yes please.” I replied trying to slow my heart rate and pushing my reflexively drawn weapon back into its holder. Mrs Smythe disappeared into what I presumed was the kitchen.
Peering around the door I could see another very neat room, this one complete with a dining table and chairs. Seated at the table was Mr Smythe. He looked up, smiled at us and waved to two vacant chairs before going back to his work.
There were several orderly stacks of bills and an old fashioned adding machine with a paper roll attached. Mr Smythe was picking up individual bills, shaking his head and tutting then entering a figure into the machine which whirred away. Another shake and tut then the bill was placed onto a different stack.
“Did you call us sir?” Thinking I should attempt some Police work.
No response. Pick, shake, tut, whir, tut, place continued for a few minutes until Mrs Smythe made a reappearance. A tray with matching bone china was placed in front of us. There was even a milk jug and floral tea cosy. Only three cups though, I sensed friction.
With the tea still brewing I made a second attempt at Police work.
“Why did you call us?”
“He’s being unreasonable again. I’ve had enough.” In a more normal tone this time.
“Oh. Have you called us before?”
“Never. We’ve been married for fifty three years.” Mrs Smythe then busied herself pouring the tea. My extensive domestic violence training had taught me to get both sides of the story before deciding who to handcuff. Sensing that I may fall short on the Positive Arrest policy in this case, I tried not to look too disheartened.
“Mr Smythe, have you been unreasonable?”
Nothing. Pick, shake, tut, whir, tut, place.
“I told you he was being unreasonable.”
“He turns his hearing aid off.” She added helpfully.
“GEORGE! GEORGE! TURN YOUR THINGY ON; THE POLICEMEN WANT TO TALK TO YOU!”
I wiped the tea off of the front of my shirt as George looked up and fiddled with the far side of his head. After some high pitched feedback, he smiled at us again.
“How can I help you?”
A brief conversation, conducted at near normal levels, revealed the crux of the matter. Sadly, there were to be no new x-rated canteen conversations. It appeared that Mrs Smythe often had a lot to say for herself and Mr Smythe wasn’t always in the mood to listen so he switched his newly acquired hearing aid off then smiled and nodded at appropriate times. After fifty three years of training he thought he had got this down to a fine art. Unfortunately, he had been rumbled.
Having had my tentative suggestion of counselling politely pooh-poohed, I had a brain wave. The Positive Arrest policymakers wouldn’t have been pleased.
“Have you considered Post-It notes?” There were smiles and appreciative nods all round.
“Will you stay for dinner?”
Regretfully, we had to make our excuses and leave to spend an hour writing this one up.
Straight after the roast beef with all the trimmings.
We didn’t want to be rude.