Paxton—Life Full Circle
Gordon Paxton is a hard man with a soft centre. Born and raised in the Gorbels in Glasgow he had known how to use his fists from an early age. By the age of fourteen he had street cred, nobody messed with him. He was a gang member tottering down the slippery path of crime. Caught in the act of petty pilfering; if a certain community PC hadn't stepped in, he would have been summonsed, given a record: an act of criminal occurrences.
But that hadn't happened. PC Duckworth had befriended him, saved him from himself, put his feet on the right path. He had a lot to thank the man for.
Well, Mum, in a sense you were right after all; you always said I would end up in jail, didn’t you? Gordon Paxton put down his biro and chuckled, remembering the twists of fate that had brought him to where he was today.
He’d always been a man you didn’t mess with; born in Glasgow in the Gorbals, a district normally noted for its slums and tenement buildings. He’d learnt how to use his fists at an early age.
The youngest of a family of six; the runt of the family, his father called him. But he didn’t mind, what he lacked in looks and size he made up for in personality.
As a kid, he’d worn his national health service glasses with pride, glasses that helped hide his squint. Cock-eyed was a word that was never used in his presence. He’d always known how to stand up for himself.
He recalled nostalgically, that by the time he was fourteen, he not only had a girlfriend; he also had street cred, nobody messed with him.
He’d belonged to a street gang, knew he was going places. Prison, his Mum always said when he told her.
Gordon picked up his biro once again and went back to concentrating on the letter he was writing.
I knew when I asked for a transfer to Nottingham I was doing the right thing, he wrote. I wouldn’t say prisoners here have it cushy in the jail in Nottingham, but there are worse places and they know it, so most, if not all, keep their noses clean whilst they are serving their time.
Gordon switched from writing to recalling his past. The physical training he’d endured that he had considered a waste of time. No matter how hard he’d tried he couldn’t put on weight, eleven stone wet, through. Five-foot-nine, and a receding hairline. It must be my personality that gets the girls, he mused.
“Paxton, are you about ready to go?”
Gordon put the biro and half-written letter in his jacket pocket. “Give me five minutes, Harry, and I’ll be with you,” he called.
“Five minutes, no more. I’ll wait for you at the gates.”
It was a bitter cold day and it threatened rain. Gordon turned up his collar and thrust his hands deep in his pockets.
On the road outside the prison gates, his colleague was waiting for him in the car, with the engine running.
“You took your bloody time, didn’t you?” he grumbled as Gordon slid into the passenger seat next to him.
“Needed to go for a slash. Two mugs of tea on top of the pint of Shipo’s I had at lunch time was just too much for my bladder.”
“Didn’t know you could still get Shipston’s.”
Shipston’s was no longer available, the brewery having closed down, but it was still fondly remembered by the locals.
“John Smith’s then,” Gordon said, conceding the point.
“Where do you want dropping?”
Gordon shrugged his shoulders, “Parliament Street, Broadmarsh, I can catch a bus home from either.”
“You still living at the same place?”
“Yeah, until I can find something better. My landlady is getting a bit too familiar for my liking, started doing my washing, knitted me a ruddy scarf for my birthday. I think she has designs on my body.”
Harry burst out laughing. “You should be so bloody lucky,” he chortled.
“You haven’t seen her, have you?”
“My landlady, who do you think I’m talking about?”
“Gordon, would it be too much to ask you to stop wittering on about your love life for five minutes and allow me to concentrate on my driving? I almost went through a red light then.”
“You can drop me here if you like. It’s not raining; and I wasn’t wittering on about my love life, or lack of it, come to that,” Gordon added testily.
“I’ll take you home if you give me your bloody address,” huffed Harry.
“Bulwell, Nottingham Road, you’ve dropped me there before.”
Harry concentrated on driving, tailed along behind the evening traffic, slowed down as he approached the next set of lights changing from amber to red.
“Next Road on the right.” Gordon broke the awkward silence that had started to build up between the two of them.
The house was in darkness when they arrived. Gordon got out of the car, pulled a key out of his pocket and opened the front door.
“Would you like to come in for a cuppa, or have you got to dash off?” he asked over his shoulder in a conciliatory tone.
“A cuppa would go down nicely, thank you. The missus is visiting her parents in Darlington for a couple of days, so I’m in no rush to get home.”
“Good, take your coat off and I’ll stick the kettle on.” Gordon bustled around in the small kitchen of the two-up, two-down semi, rattling cups, filling the kettle.
Fifteen minutes later, comfortable, ensconced in easy chairs nursing mugs of tea, the two men began to chatter amicably about their day’s work.
“What were you doing at Nottingham prison?” Harry asked between sips of tea. “I was there because I’m a probation officer. What’s your excuse?”
“I was checking up on a boy I arrested a couple of months ago, wanted to know how he was getting on. I could see myself in that youth, Harry. If a certain community copper hadn’t taken an interest in me, set my foot on the right path, that could have been me.”
“Is that why you joined the force?”
“That, and the fact I didn’t want to let down the man who had saved me from myself. He caught me red-handed nicking fags from the corner shop, gave me a clip ’round the ear, something that’s not allowed these days, but I tell you it did me some good regardless.
“At the time there was a spate of robberies and break-ins around the area where I lived,” Gordon continued, “and the police had been ordered to crack down on petty criminals. Police Constable Duckworth could have turned me in and I would have started life with a black mark against my name, but God bless the man, he didn’t. Along with a clip ’round the ear, he warned me what would happen if he caught me doing anything wrong ever again.
“That day a bond was formed between the two of us. He told me I was the son he’d never had. No one, not even my own father, had ever taken an interest in me like that man did.”
“So apart from your road to Damascus meeting, what made you decide to become a copper?”
“I told you: he did. I wanted to be like him, didn’t want to let him down. He persuaded me to stay on at school, paid for me to have my squint rectified, got me to join a club. When eventually, I joined the Police force, the fact I had once been a member of a street gang was a factor in my favour. I could talk to kids on their own level. Most of the time I knew what they were going to do before they did. PC Duckworth came from Nottingham, served in the force here before transferring to Glasgow. Told me it was a beautiful city, and it is.”