One of the things I enjoyed most about working in London’s West End was that you never knew who you might meet or what might happen on any given day….At any time an officer might be called upon to deal with an abusive drunk, or give first aid to an unconscious drug addict or perhaps report an an incident involving a well known personality…..Or perhaps, as on the occasion that I am about to describe, an officer might have to arrest someone who claimed to be ‘The Messiah’….This is the story of a young German called Norbert…..Also known as ‘Jina’ or ‘The White Horse’
On this particular day I was on Late Turn (3pm to 11pm). We paraded as usual and I was posted to 8 Beat (Soho). Our Duty Officer for that day was standing in for our usual inspectors, he was a polite, friendly and affable enough chap who wished us all “Good Luck” as he dismissed us from the parade to go about our work. As usual we all made our way straight to the Front Office area where the first job was to book out our personal radios….As I was signing for my radio I was summoned into the communications area which was staffed by our two regular officers, Jock and Ginger. Jock called me over with a grin on his face, this was always worrying, “Ah, Robert, step into my office as I have a wee job for you….And off hand I can nae think of a better man for the job.”
“Well why don’t you take a little more time to think then Jock, and you might come up with another name!”
“Och no….Not at all….I was just saying to Ginger here, “”This job is made for Robert, was I not Ginge?””
“Yes, You were indeed, Jock….Plus, it’s on your beat….So basically. It’s yours!” Ginger handed me a slip of paper which said Midas Graphics, Meard Street….”And the name of the lady you want is Jenny….She runs the company and she has a slight problem for you to sort out for her….If I was you, I’d grab a nice cup of tea before you go there as this one may take you a little while.”
I took Ginger’s advice, drank a cup of tea with the rest of the relief and then headed across Regent Street, into Soho and made my way to Meard Street, a small thoroughfare that linked Wardour Street and Dean Street….Midas Graphics was situated about half way along on the South footway.
Midas Graphics was a small family run business of the type that flourished in Soho at that time. I entered and was immediately welcomed by the owner, Jenny, who ushered me into her office and offered me another cup of tea….This I thought was a good start….A good police officer should cultivate as many “Tea Haunts” as possible….You never know when a friendly shelter from a sudden rain shower might prove useful!
“What’s your problem, Jenny?”
“I’m really not sure where to start.”
“Fortunately, I have a whole eight hours to solve your problem, so why don’t you start at the beginning?” Little did I know then that a mere eight hours would be nowhere near enough time to solve her problem….This would run quite literally for months and months!
Jenny’s story was, to say the least, somewhat unusual. Some months before she had been approached by a seemingly pleasant young German man who was the self styled leader of a religious cult called “The White Horse”. Jina (as his several followers knew him) was a forward thinking chap and in order to promote himself and his cult he needed some leaflets and posters designed and printed and he wanted Jenny’s company to do the job….Jenny and her team happily agreed and set to work with Jina on suitable designs….A price was agreed, a deposit paid and Jenny and her team set about their work….When the printing was complete Jina returned and was apparently delighted with the work….Jenny showed me some of the posters and they were indeed most impressive….If you like big white horses on a sort of white fluffy cloudy covered motif, with rainbow sprinkled backgrounds…..Imagine My Little Pony mixed with the Sergeant Pepper album cover and you will get the general idea!
Even Jina’s preferred method of making payments was unusual….He insisted on paying in gold! Jenny told him that she would prefer the payments to be made in a more conventional manner but Jina was insistent….Jenny was a shrewd business woman and she insisted on having the gold coins checked before she accepted the arrangement but when it was all proved to be strictly ‘Kosher’ and above board, both parties were happy.
Jina and his acolytes became frequent and welcome visitors to the shop…Jenny said they were always gentle and charming young people….Unconventional, perhaps…But they all got on well…..Until…..One day Jina came into the shop and suggested that since they all got on so well and since Jenny and her team were pretty much already part of his group…Perhaps they should consider going all the way and become full time followers of his cult of the “White Horse”
Obviously Jenny did not wish to offend the man who had become such a cold customer but neither did she or her team have the slightest intention of joining their sect….So she politely explained that whilst they were very happy to continuing their business association none of her team wished to become members of their sect.
Jina’s attitude and demeanour changed almost immediately…He kept up his frequent visits but now his focus was on persuading Jenny and her team to change their minds….The followers who had formerly been “Gentle and charming young people” now became annoying and troublesome. Jina was now the only cult member to actually enter the shop but the other members would on a daily basis turn up at the shop and stand outside just peering through the windows….having, of course, a damaging and detrimental effect on their business….When Jina appeared at the shop he would sometimes just stand in silence staring over the counter before finally departing without uttering a word….Needless to say this behaviour was having a somewhat distressing effect on the staff….Jenny herself was a strong and forthright lady but her niece, who was much younger had become noticeably nervous.
On the morning of my visit Jina had entered the shop and had appeared to be cheerful. Instead of standing in silence he was quite chatty and sat cross legged on the counter trying to explain the many benefits of them joining his group….Jenny once again calmly explained that they had no intention of joining and told him that he might wish to consider taking his business elsewhere….Jina plainly did not like this idea. Without warning he jumped off the counter on the staff side, picked up a scalpel used in the artwork and used it to cut off a lock of hair from Jenny’s niece. When an male member of staff who was well over 60 years old remonstrated with the aggressor, Jina picked up a heavy glass ashtray and threw it at him, only narrowly missing him. Jina then jumped back over the counter and fled from the shop laughing loudly…..It was then that Jenny decided to call the police.
I listened closely to Jenny’s account and asked a several questions…. I have to say that I had never before or since heard such a story….Obviously, this was not an acceptable way to behave….But I had no idea what could be done about it….Having asked all the staff members if they wished to add anything to Jenny’s account and also asked them if they were suffering any after effects from their ordeal, I sat back and pondered the situation over yet another cup of tea.
Eventually I decided to consult a higher authority….I left the shop having left instructions that they should contact West End Central again, should Jina put in another appearance (This was of course long before the era of everybody carrying a mobile phone on their person). Back at the police station I knocked on our replacement inspector’s door and asked if I could seek his advice and opinion…. Having thus gained his attention, I recounted the story to him….I was rather pleased to see that the expression on his face was as blank as mine….”Well, this is a strange one, isn’t it?….Let’s think about it over a cup of tea!”
Having given the matter due consideration he decided that since it was now late afternoon we should both have our meal break….Before we would both return to Meard Street so that he could hear the story from Jenny first hand and I could write out a statement for her to sign.
By about 8pm we both left the shop clutching Jenny’s statement and walked back to Savile Row. “So what do you think this all amounts to then, Governor?”
“Damned if I know, Rob….I think we should have a word with the CID and see what they think.”
A short while later the duty officer and I stood upon haloed ground in the D.I.’s office and went over the details yet again and further reinforced our tail with Jenny’s statement…..The DI closely attended to what was said and finally commented….”I think we’d better have words with the DCI!”
From the first floor CID main office to the second floor DCI’s. Office (God himself occupies the 3rd floor!)….Once again the unusual tale of Jina was retold… “What do you reckon then, Sir?
“Ermmm I’m not sure….Leave this with me for half an hour, will you?”
Thirty minutes later and the duty officer and I were back in the DCI’s office (twice in one day for me…..Can life ever get more exciting than this?) “Right ho, Gents (The DCI actually called me a Gent!) I’ve given this some thought and it’s a bit unusual so I’ve spoken to Mr Hopkins the Magistrate at Marlborough Street Court and he wants you to bring the complainant to the court at 9.00am tomorrow….She will then swear out an ‘Information’ before him.
Next morning, I collected Jenny from Meard Street and walked her the short distance to Marlborough Street Magistrates Court where we appeared before Mr David Hopkins, one of London’s best known stipendiary magistrates in his private office….He listened intently to Jenny’s evidence and was in absolutely no doubt as to what action needed to be taken. “This chap is plainly a menace, he sounds like a complete “Nutter” to me! What we have here is three separate common assaults, starting with the general harassment and abuse suffered by Jenny, followed by the intentional cutting off of a lock of her nieces hair and finally with the throwing of the ashtray at the elderly staff member….On those grounds I will now issue an arrest warrant, not backed for bail. When this man is arrested, I will remand him in custody for a full mental and medical report to be completed.” (Commonly known as a Nut and Gut report).
And so it was that Norbert the German Messiah became a wanted man!
Part Two to follow! “How to arrest a White Horse!”Recommended1 recommendationPublished in