James Anderton became the chief constable of Greater Manchester in 1975 and remained in the post until 1991. He earned
the nickname as "God's Cop" as he was an outspoken Christian a well as being a high-ranking member of the Mancunian Plod or
The Dibble to give them their colloquial monicker. He was particularly scaything towards homosexuals, prostitutes
and drug-addicts. With the spectre of AIDS looming in the late 1980's, Anderton is widely quoted as saying that gays, hookers
and junkies were indeed ''swirling round in a human cesspit of their own making.''
Pretty strong stuff! In 1985, we got our very own "Gods Cop" in a way at Shepshed High. His name was Mr Cartlidge and
we graduated from the calming, dulcete tones of our Yorkshire born tutor "Sooty" (Mr Sutcliffe) to our very own, outspoken
albeit former law enforcer.
He was a tall, bony man from Staffordshire with a pasty face. His hair ws always immaculate combed to one-side. He
revealed that he had left the Police force to become a teacher and believe you me, we were scared shitless of him. Maybe it
is unfair to call him "Gods Cop", after all I never canvassed his views on homosexuals. I would not have dared even mention
By now we were approaching fourteen, puberty was kicking in fast and he was added to the growing list of adult
"anti-heroes" which included my Dad and that miserable old git "Contacts" who used to chase us out of his sweetshop on
Forest Street, when we used to mither him to death asking him daft things like "How much are your penny chews?"
However Mr Cartlidge would not take any crap from any of us. Bursting with hormones, we were well and truely repelled.
Any potential disorder was represssed. A stern look could strike fear into any one of the class. Girls would cry, boys
would fight back the tears because as Robert Smith (the Cure) told us at the time "Boys don't cry!" - they very nearly did.
Eventually something would have to give and one day late in term, he finally got into "God Cop" mode with a rant about
our elder peers across the road at the Hind Leys college. I don't remember what sparked him venting his spleen about our elder
student comerades, but one day he gave us a piece of his mind about "the youth of today", no not the song by that Reggae band
of serial truants Musical Youth, but us.
Basically we were a slovenly, scumbag, scruffy bunch (Cartlidge would always wear slacks, beige or brown, matched with
a round-necked sweater, brown or grey). I don't remember his epic speech word for word, but he caused outrage amongst the
girls when he said something about the College girls over the road "laying about smoking in the grass like prostitutes in
their short skirts and fishnet stockings" - it was a priceless moment!
I wanted to go and have a look to see what the fuss was all about. I had to fight back the laughter, but like the rest
of the class I was frozen with fear.
It rankled the girls in our class and one who was unfortunately nicknamed Gooly sought my advice. Like me,
she was no oil painting but she said she was organising a protest where all the girls would turn up in short skirts
and fishnets to put one over on "Gods Cop". Like a dirty old man I agreed they should do it but stopped short at a wild notion
she had of getting the boys to dress like that too.
Unfortunately her well-intended plans fell on deaf ears (or maybe they were too scared!) she turned up the next day in
a school skirt (turned up above the knee) and a pair of white fishnet tights which were so baggy, she looked more like Nora
Batty than Madonna.
So Gods Cop was right! He had won again and we longed for his next message of salvation to save us, the impressionable Shepshed
Youth from a life of deviancy and debauchery.
Eventually my attitude towards him softened and I incurred the wrath of my classmates by saying (when we were
well away from the school gates) that actually "he was alright!". I managed to engage in a bit of friendly banter with
him about his beloved Stoke City, who were relegated that year from the First Division. To shut me up, he brought me in a
Stoke City FC Pencil and made me use it! He also complemented me when on a day at he end of term when we were allowed
to bring in "records" (yeah that's right, real records) I brought in Ian Dury's "Hit me with your rhythm stick" and
he literally snatched it from me, ripped "Mai Tai" or whatever rubbish was playing off the turntable and put on in his words "a
great record". For three minutes whilst dear Ian Dury played, he was one of the lads and I think he enjoyed it more than us!
It was the longest three minutes and 45 seconds of my life. I was praying that he did not "flip" the record as the B-side
was called "There ain't half been some clever bastards" and I knew he had a bigger downer on swearing and bad language than
my Dad. Luckily he carefully replaced the record in its sleeve and handed it back to me with a smile!
So I suppose he weren't all that bad after all!
OTHER TEACHER'S (honorable mentions of course!)
Miss Bishop (French Year 1) unfortunately had a nervous breakdown.
Mrs Masters (Science) never liked me from the moment I exercised my right to reply in my school report and put I disagreed
with her comments that I was childish and disruptive (yes, she had a point but I once wanted to be a lawyer!!!), a point thereafter
she never wasted an opportunity to remind me of.
Mr Graham (Science) thought he was a great bloke until he gave me and Dave Stockwell a blue slip (blue meant extraordinary
bad behaviour, parents informed, deep shit!) for playing baseball with a conker and a three-metre rule stick. In mitigation
M'Lud we were bored shitless doing some daft project hunting for "earth worms" on the playing field and why the hell we needed
a three-metre stick to measure them is beyond comprehension!
Mrs O'Leary (French) me and Dave nicknamed her "David" after the long-serving Arsenal/Ireland stalwart and future Leeds
United manager. Never called it her to her face though and with hindsight, she may have done a better job managing my beloved
Mrs Wileman (German/French) when Dave Stockwell moved to Germany briefly, he wrote me a very daft letter, I made the
mistake of showing Mrs Wileman who sighed and remarked "Sadly Germany has not changed him for the better, he is still immature
and silly" - we thought she was paying him a compliment!
Mr Lackenby (Science) sported a beard and was cruelly nicknamed "the werewolf" - cue mass howling when he walked into
Mr Burt (Design) a lovely man who had been there for years (my neighbour Raymond had been taught by him) failed miserably
to teach me how to throw a pot properly, not his fault you are either born with the skill or not. Some cruel sod had daubed
"Baldeagle Burt" on his classroom door but he did not seem to mind.
Mrs Redfearn (Science) another of those "put the fear of god into you" types. In late 1985, I accidentally broke one
of her microscopes. I spent the next six months living in fear she would find out it was me because sneakily I put it back
and she had a rant in the next lesson about carelessness and woe-betide the person who has done it! Even when I moved to my
new school in Ashby, I was terrified her wrath would follow me down the A512 and make me face justice.
Mrs Wilkinson (English) a fine tutor who I did not really appreciate at the time. A gentle, fragile, ageing gracefully
lady. My most memorable moment was when she launched into a tirade about a well-known Loughborough criminal family and how
they ruled "the bell town" with intimidation and fear (she too lived in Loughborough). Obviously that sort of thing was
way above the heads of us gentle Shepshed folk, however I could not resist piping up that my mum knew the family in question
quite well because they all drank in the Green Man and she said they weren't that bad actually!