A Peeler in the Family (West Midlands Police)

The book "A Peeler in the Family" was promoted on the morning of Sunday 24th October 2010 on BBC Radio West Midlands (95.6FM)

Local Historian  Professor Carl Chinn welcomed author Mick Talbot to his show.

 Carl Chinn said, “Mick-having written about the history of Boldmere St Michaels Football Club- has now, from that ,written his life story: A Peeler in the Family

What is behind the title of the book?”

Mick Talbot The word Peeler is a nickname for an Irish policeman. Over here in England it is Bobbies. The connection is with Sir Robert Peel- he is the one who left the legacy of the modern police service. I had a couple of ancestors who were policemen in Ireland so I liked the nickname for the title of my book. It was also a reference to my own Brummie/Irish roots.

Carl Chinn, “Mick tell us- let’s go back why did you decide to write the book?”

Mick Talbot, “I became a Grandpa at 50 years of age to a lovely little girl called Grace and I got this idea in my head to write a story for her. There was an ulterior motive for me because I would have loved my own Grandfathers to have done the same for me and wrote their life stories…………..!”

Carl Chinn, “Absolutely!  Would that have been a joy for us family historians?  We all dream we will find a chest with all the family history in there.”

Mick Talbot, “However men born in Victorian times had other things to do they had more priorities to be fair but they did have their place in history. My maternal Grandfather: James Goggin, served in an Irish regiment: The Second Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers in the First World War.  My paternal grandfather, also called Michael Talbot, was an Irish Volunteer. I have no evidence he was fighting alongside Michael Collins and Eamon DeValera in the GPO during the 1916 Uprising but I came across some documentation so he was doing something rebellious at that time.”

Carl Chinn, “That is a common story amongst many Irish families. One part of the family was pro-British while the other side were more  Republican.”

Mick Talbot, “That is why I would have loved to have known more about them. In any case they inspired me. What I have learned about them I did include in the book. I really wanted to do this book for Grace so when she becomes an adult (accepts she is only 5 years old and at school) but in the `blink of an eye` she will soon be a young woman and I think then the book will become more of value. I was quite content to have copies done of the book just for the family. I then went to a police reunion, it was for the West Midlands police football team (their Presentation night) and Barry Fry the ex-Birmingham City manager was the after dinner speaker. That is another story because it was quite a “riotous” evening. 

I saw younger policemen that I knew and noticed that their hair was going grey. I heard stories of some of the old guard. I recall Dave Blick a man I respected as a `father figure` and I heard he had both of his hips replaced. He retired as a Superintendent. I decided that I should make this book more available to the public and that is what I did. I had kept a diary since I was 15-years of age. My sister Margaret had bought me a 5-year diary one Christmas and I don’t know what possessed me, Carl, to do it, but I am glad that I did because it became the template for the book.”    

Carl Chinn, “The thing is, it is like a record. We hear a record that jerks a memory, triggers a memory off or we have a smell. It triggers other memories that lay dormant.

Mick Talbot, "Let me give you an example. I remember the night that Elvis Presley died. I was on night-duty and based over at Queens Road police station. We were due in at two or three o’clock in the morning. In those days we would play a game of snooker and eat sandwiches and drink a cup of tea or coffee. I switched on the radio and the local radio station was playing Elvis songs-one after the other- I was wondering what was going on? It was then disclosed by the disc jockey that Elvis had died on the 16th August which is also the date of my wife’s birthday.”

Carl Chinn, “My mate and I were at the Top Rank. We were coming home and we turned on to Radio Luxemburg on. Tony Prince (D.J.) said: "The King is dead.”

Mick Talbot, “We all listened to Luxemburg before `Radio One.` That was something to include in the book from my diary. I did not want the book to be insular although there are snippets of family history. I wanted to mention the early days of the West Midlands police……….

Carl Chinn, “After the West Midlands was merged in 1974.” 

Mick Talbot, “Yes it was on the 1st April when the old Birmingham City police (formed in 1839) with parts of Warwickshire and Staffordshire and more notably the old `Black Country` police forces, the Boroughs of Walsall, Wolverhampton and the old West Midlands Constabulary.    One of the benefits of this amalgamation was that we did not have to call upon the elite detectives of the Metropolitan police. We had our own detectives' whom we could pool them together to investigate  a murder . That was the theory…………!  However, in practice, we were nicknamed the `force of a thousand coats` because of all these different uniforms that existed after the amalgamation. In the 1970s the country was in deep recession and it was cost effective for the officers to hang on to their old uniforms until they retired.

Carl Chinn, “There was a sense of pride being from those old forces.”

Mick Talbot, “Those old uniforms were sent over to Sparkhill (Police Museum) to the Curator Dave Cross.  All those uniforms are on display.”

Carl Chinn, “So your book is about the coming together of all these different forces and how it created a new force.”

Mick Talbot, “How we created a new force and we have gone from the days when police officers were mostly men in those days (a male dominated organisation) We walked around with just a truncheon in our pocket (for protection) and had a radio that did not always work because the batteries did not always hold the charge. However, we were out there walking the beat. The police service changed and became more equal opportunity, better uniforms, better communications and that all happened within the last 36 years of the West Midlands police history.

Carl Chinn, “It was a necessary change and we all agree with that but the move to better communication, transportation- all high `tech` that maybe we lost a bit of the old approach to policing?”

Mick Talbot, “I will be defensive Carl and say “No!”  I will tell you why. There is a gentleman call Matthew Baggot. He is now the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He was an ex-Metropolitan policeman and was also a senior officer in the West Midlands. In about 2001-2002 I went to a meeting where he spoke to the rank and file in (ACC Road show) and he talked about the modern day heroes. All due respect to Premiership players (they are not heroes) The `Boys and Girls` are out there doing the job while we are tucked up warm in bed at night (even me now) THEY are the modern day heroes!! I did my 30-years service but it is over to them now-this generation.”

Carl Chinn, “Do you hope that some of those modern day heroes will read the book and get a sense of continuity?”

Mick Talbot, “They will when they retire because there is a desire to look back. They has been a good interest from some former colleagues who have purchased my book. It will be good for them because my book will mirror their own police careers. I wrote about the training at Ryton-on-Dunsmore which had a military flavour in the 1970s.

Carl Chinn, “Talking of which, Dave Cross (former Curator of the Police museum) found a photograph of my Great-Grandfather (laughing- you knew about this Mick!?) Edward Derrick who was a naughty lad. He stole a basket carriage."

In some respects that was the only way we could find anything about our ancestors- if they committed a crime!”


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