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A huge assortment of callers came to our door when we lived in the Police Station in Nailsea. There were the routine matters - people coming to produce their driving documents and the like, people with queries, people wanting to report a loss - a dog, a watch, a wallet, people wanting to complain about their neighbours or some unseemly going-on.
And there were the phone calls too - one afternoon when Terry was off duty I answered the telephone to be greeted by the words: 'There's a pigeon in my garden and it seems exhausted. What should I do?' Feeling unqualified to give her advice, I went out to Terry, who was mowing the lawn, and repeated the conversation. 'Tell her to put the oven on,' was his typically black-humoured reply. Of course, he was joking - Terry could never be cruel to any living creature - he wouldn't destroy a spider's web or kill a wasp, let alone a pigeon. On his further instructions, I went back to advise the lady caller that she should put out water and food for it, and leave it alone, and after a rest it would probably go on its way.
Perhaps the most bizarre incident happened, as it so often seemed to, on a Saturday evening. Terry was out 'on his beat' (or motor cycle, to be more precise) and I had just finished giving my youngest daughter her 10 o'clock feed when there was a ring at the doorbell. I went to answer it with her in my arms. And saw the letter box open and a pair of eyes staring at me through it.
Now this is perhaps the most difficult bit of my blog. How to describe the two sisters who lived a few doors from us in Station Road, without being dreadfully un-PC. I'll try to be kind. The one was what my mother would have called 'not quite all there', though in retrospect the other was not much better! It was she who was at our door, and because she was 'vertically challenged' her eyes were level with our letter box. With some trepidation, I opened the door - bear in mind, it was close on 11 pm. The little lady wasted no time in telling me why she was calling for help.
'There are Martians in the school playing field. They're directing lazers into my bedroom and they're burning me up!' (Our houses backed onto what was then Nailsea Comprehensive School grounds)
Well, what would you have said? I tried, without success, to suggest it might be youngsters with torches. She wouldn't have it. Definitely Martians. I tried to convince her they meant her no harm. She was adamant. They were trying to kill her. She could feel the lazer rays scorching her skin, getting right inside her. This idiotic conversation went on for far too long. It was cold, dark, and I had a young baby in my arms. Eventually I assured her I would get my husband to investigate and closed the door but for a long while she continued to knock, ring, and shout through the letterbox that she couldn't go home or she would be either exterminated or 'beamed up'. I had a look through our bedroom window when I went upstairs to put Suzie back to bed - it overlooked the self-same playing fields - and could see nothing whatever. No car headlights, no torch beams ... nothing.
Eventually the little lady gave up and went away. I fully expected her to make a complaint to Terry's senior officers that she had received no help whatever in her hour of need, but to my knowledge that never happened. Unless of course it did, and was binned ...
As I'd like to say to the writers of Heartbeat .... You couldn't make it up!