This is a big, big park.
There’s nobody more aware of that than I am. Although there are more or less sixty constables in the Liverpool Parks Police force, there are more parks than Sefton to look after. We cover the bloody lot! At any one time there are probably about twenty of us in Sefton Park to watch over two hundred and bloody fifty four acres or so I’m told, though don’t get me wrong, I’ve never actually counted them! Not that I am complaining, of course. Not at all. I know a bit of luck when I see it, for sure. When most of my mates are off getting in the pen for work on the dock I am strolling around these open fields, keeping an eye on things, doffing my cap to all the nannies as they push their perambulators around the lake, taking in the fresh air. I am a lucky man! There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t count my blessings. So not a word in complaint from me. Nope, I am a proper Toff’s policeman. Well, that’s what the “real” police call us, but our jobs can be just as bleak and dangerous. Especially if you find yourself on a night shift. All of the first aid training comes in handy, too. There’s a lot of water and trees in the parks, you see, and plenty of children to fall foul of them too!
On this day the work boys were planting some new flowers down by the Palm House. Bright purples and reds they were. Quite glorious. I stopped to have a chat with them for a while, getting all the news and stories of what they and their mates were up to. Just before lunch there was a bit of commotion as one of the nannies had misplaced a child’s shoe. Re-tracing her steps we were glad to find that someone had kindly laced it on a branch hanging over the path. So all ended well there and I was off on my rounds again once lunch was over. It was egg on a sandwich today. Very tasty. By mid-afternoon the only incident brought to my attention was when I had to discipline a few young lads who had taken it upon themselves to go climbing up one of the trees. A quick cuff across the back of their heads and they were gone, though I did hear them calling names to me once they were a safe distance away. Cheeky beggars!
With all of this out of the way I set off towards the lake. I thought that I would cast my eyes over any anglers that might be there and make sure all of their permits were up to date. As it turned out however, as I approached the lake I could only make out three of them there today, with one of them placed on the opposite bank. It would take a bit of a walk to get all of the way round, but I carried on. After my checks I found that all of the permits were in order, even if they were turned over in a somewhat reluctant manner. Moving on I approached the Livingstone entrance where it leads out on to Aigburth road. Noting nothing out of the ordinary I circumnavigated the sports field and decided to head back towards the Palm House to see how the lads were getting on with the planting of the flower beds. Off to one side of the path I could see the autumn leaves falling from the trees massed across that way.
Autumn really is a most spectacularly melancholic time, is it not? The leaves were like a carpet on the grass. Reds, yellows and gold, and all of the colours in between. For autumn it really was a quite mild day, but as I stopped to take in this marvellous sight a cold breeze blew across the park and rattled through the trees. A cascade of leaves fell from the partially barren branches and fell to the ground. A weak shiver rose across my back. It would be time for a sturdier coat soon! You most certainly would not want to get caught in inadequate clothing with a full day’s work ahead of you in the middle of the park. I paused to adjust my helmet and continued on my way. Already it was beginning to get dark...
"The Strange Case of the Toff’s Policeman And the Curious Elm " is just one one of many stories from the collection, "Liverpool" which is available to purchase separately.