Sunday, 23 March 2008

Whatever happened to 'The Laughing Policeman'?

When I was a child, there used to be a policeman in the community in which I grew up, whom everyone new as PC Friend.

I remember he was really tall, much taller than my dad, - who was six foot - and about twice as wide. He had silvery hair, was always smiling and was good friends with my grandmother and in fact lived in her street. My grandmother indeed had known him when she was a young girl.

He once came to ‘have a talk’ with my cousin and me after we were caught playing with matches in the yard. I must have only been about 6 years old at the time and I distinctly remember feeling ashamed, not afraid, that PC Friend knew that I had done wrong.

My grandmother had an old record called The Laughing Policeman, which I used to play regularly. As I listened to it I always pictured PC Friend laughing and that it was him the man on the record was singing about.

Everyone from the village of course knew PC Friend and he was the only policeman I ever saw. When my Grandmother died he came to the funeral in his uniform.

This was not 50 years ago or more, as some of you may be thinking, but in the early 1980’s and was my first experience of a policeman. After his death and as I grew up, my perception of the police has changed considerably, probably in line with how the police have changed too. Who would believe that this experience of a policeman was less than thirty years ago?

This morning the song of ‘The Laughing Policeman’ came back to me for no apparent reason and consequently decided to look the song up on the internet. I was surprised to find that the song was written by a man called Charles Penrose Dunbar Cawse and although he was born in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, with a name like that he must surely have had Cornish ancestry.

Perhaps the author of The Laughing Policeman was inspired to write the song in much the same way as CPW have been inspired to keep a watch on police in Cornwall, albeit for different motives. My, how times have changed!


Charles Penrose

I know a fat old policeman
He's always on our street.
A fat and jolly red-faced man
He really is a treat.

He's too kind for a policeman
He's never known to frown.
And everybody says
He is the happiest man in town!.

He laughs upon point duty
He laughs upon his beat.
He laughs at everybody
When he's walking in the street.

He never can stop laughing
He says he's never tried.
But once he did arrest a man
And laughed until he cried!

Oh ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

His jolly face is wrinkled
And then he shut his eyes.
He opened his great big mouth
It was a wonderous size!

He said "I must arrest you!"
He didn't know what for.
And then he started laughing
Until he cracked his fat old jaw.

Oh ho ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

So if you chance to meet him
While walking 'round the town.
Shake him by his fat old hand
And give him half a crown.

His eyes will beam and sparkle
He'll gurgle with delight.
And then you'll start him laughing
With all his blessed might!

Oh ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Oh ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

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