|Title||Who or What Were They?||Author||Alan Godfrey|
|Date of Publication||2017||ISBN||9178-1-78808-159-7|
It is 1980. An ordinary beat Bobbie is trying to track down some errant cows that had escaped from their field in the early hours of the morning. It is a ‘job’ that many police officers across the UK will recognise. Single crewed on a night shift. Hat and clipboard, with all the forms you hope you will need while out and about, the crackle of the VHF radio fitted to the car and the occasional voice from your local control on the personal radio in your top pocket that you did a radio check on when leaving the station.
It could have been any officer in a rural town. Except it wasn’t. It was Alan Godfrey, that familiar PC around the town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire.
Finally, after thirty-five years the author gets to have his say. The book opens by painting a picture of the town of Todmorden and the surrounding area. When it comes to Policing it is definitely more Juliet Bravo than Miami Vice, so it is not surprising the author informs us the area around the town was used for filming the former.
The book quickly covers the author’s early years and getting through the Police training centre and clearly shows the pride the author had in becoming a Police Constable. In the early days of a Probationer Constable, working in his hometown of Todmorden with a Tutor Constable, there is plenty of Police humour that will make those who have ever worn the uniform raise a wry smile, and the author is able to show the closeness of team working his shift. It is not a side to Policing that outsiders get to see that often. There is also a touching paragraph or two on PC Godfrey’s first time in the witness box which, perhaps unintentionally, reveals more of the humanity behind the uniform. The author’s first visit to a Mortuary is also sensitively handled whilst painting a vivid picture of sorts of things that simply have to become routine to Constables in order for them to carry out their duties.
These early chapters in the book are all about giving the reader a picture of life and the cycle of shifts in this West Yorkshire town. These were the days when Police would talk about their ‘duty’ rather than their ‘job’, whilst being regarded as being responsible enough to operate with a certain amount of discretion, where Constables had to take the knocks as well as their victories.
June 1980 seems a pivotal moment in the career of PC Godfrey when on Wednesday 11th around 4pm a body was found in a local coal yard. The author gives a first-hand account of what must surely be one of the strangest cases of ‘sudden death’. The detailed description not only sh0ws the initial investigative process, but the thinking, and more importantly the feelings involved for the first Policeman at the scene. This death remains unexplained right up until this time the book was published in 2017.
However, another event of high strangeness would enter PC Godfrey’s life on Friday 28th November 1980. Whilst driving out of town to look for those cows he encountered some sort of alien craft. Whilst most of us would panic and call the Police, the author opens up in detail about his thoughts, feelings and the surroundings at the time of the encounter.
He goes on to tell us of the ‘stick’ his colleagues gave him in the Parade Room and beyond. His personal lifestyle declines. There are several hypnotic regression sessions we are guided through. However, for me, the really interesting part of the book does not deal with the encounter itself, but the after-effects of it on PC Godfrey’s career.
The title of the book is incredibly clever. At first, I thought it was just a reference to the entities encountered on Burnley Road. After reading the book, I think it could equally apply to the shadowy forces of the state who were trying to gag the author and the journey they put him through, laid out for all to read in this book. It is not the journal of a bitter former Police Constable, it is a frank exploration of how a strange event can end a career and have lasting effects for life.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject of UFOs, but equally to those interested in the ‘dirty tricks squad’ who are deployed when someone simply wants to tell the truth as they see it.
“Who or What Were They” is available on eBay Books.