The Job – A few early memories on where life can take you -Michael Layton

Yesterday I was chatting to a police pensioner in his 90s who has many great memories of how he first joined Birmingham City Police and went on to serve in traffic, driving the old Westminster’s,

and on CID at Lloyd House Police Headquarters. Everyone I know who becomes a police officer always refers to it as ‘the job’. Don’t ask me why but that’s the way it is. My meeting prompted me to reflect on my forty-two years service and the many aspects of that journey. I was born in Wheeler Street, Lozells near to the Lucas Factory. The cover of our little book ‘Tara A Bit’ features me playing at an early age with my elder sister in a back-yard. I later went to primary school at St. Silas’s. I realised at an early age that I didn’t like school and determined to make the experience as short as possible. At an early age I was a Marine Cadet at TS Vernon which was then situated at Gas Street Canal Basin, off Broad Street, and learnt the art of ‘bulling  boots’ which was to become useful later in life. (Photo) My abiding memory was of falling in the canal whilst canoeing. My father George (RIP) was at one stage a Special Constable in Birmingham City Police, as well as a Parks Policeman for a short time. (Photo) He was later to become the first civilian Warrants Office at Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham and spent many happy years there. (Photo). I later attended Lordswood Boys Technical School on the Hagley Road, and found technical drawing to be an impossible art. The lines simply never connected and I left school at the age of sixteen years with five ‘O’ Levels and one ‘CSE’ having promised myself that academic achievement was probably not going to be top of my list of things to strive for in life. I originally wanted to become a Police Cadet in the Birmingham City Police but was rejected because I was too thin. My doctor recommended a banana a day to increase weight but it simply didn’t work and I was eventually accepted by the British Transport Police as a cadet in 1968 and spent much of my time working at Rail House in Broad Street, at the Divisional HQ or at the old New Street Station which was a great place to learn your trade in the police. There is not one section of society that does not travel through a train station at some time or another. Football hooliganism was on the rise and at some stage it seemed like every phone box with a coinbox underneath was being broken into on the station which had a circular bank of them. I later attended an outward bound course at Elan Valley in Wales (photo) where I struggled to keep up with my West Midlands Police colleagues who were all pretty much twice my size and super-fit. In 1972 I transferred to Birmingham City Police and originally served in uniform at Ladywood before transferring to the CID. In 1974 the Force became the West Midlands Police and so the story goes on. Hairstyles have changed over the years but the job remains the same. (Photos) Some of those police experiences are chronicled in books – not glamorous, although occasionally exciting, and routinely intriguing they have been my life. The first picture is of me being presented with the Queens Police Medal in 2003 by HM The Queen having been awarded it in the New Years Honours List. From Wheeler Street to Buckingham Palace but not the end of the story and I still only have  five ‘O’ Levels and a CSE certificate!

‘Violence In The Sun’ – the history of football-related violence in Cyprus

In Cyprus the ‘beautiful’ game of football is revered and enjoyed by thousands of genuine fans who follow their favoured teams with unrivalled passion. It is said that when you are born in Cyprus a number of things are pre-ordained – your Christian name, your religion, your politics and the football club you will follow for life. This book provides an insight to the love of the game in Cyprus but also articulates how a small, but violent minority, have in the past been engaged in organised attacks on their opponents and the police.

Walsall’s Front Line – Volume II

The front cover on this book features the scene of a murder in Brownhills in April 1998 when the only witness to the crime was the victim’s dog ‘Benny’ who was stabbed by the perpetrator and left for dead. A factual account of policing in parts of the Borough of Walsall in 1998/1999.

Policing – the formal bits & the informal bits.

The photo was taken circa 1973 at a ‘continuation course’ at Ryton On Dunsmore District Police Training Centre. I will leave the readers to guess where I might be in the picture. The definition pages show some of the formality of learning that we undertook as probationer constables in those days learning the definitions ‘parrot fashion’ and being very much a part of a disciplined organisation. The two little books ‘One In For D & D’ and ‘It’s A Blag – the dark art of police humour’ provide a little insight into the ‘not so formal’. All parts of the ‘glue’ which bound us together. The ‘thin blue line’ that was routinely stretched but never broken.

“Thoroughly enjoyed this book. As a huge Bowie fan the title and cover attracted me and the way the story mingles with Bowie in the heady Ziggy days is really good. But, the story is more than just that, an old fashioned story of the pain and joy of first loves and the seedy underground world of drugs and prostitution wonderful. A highly recommended read”

Other reviews of ‘Pretty Thing’ :

27 May 2019

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

I have been a Bowie fan for 47yrs and I have read many autobiography’s, when I first saw this book I was a bit unsure but bought it because anything to do with Bowie I’d give a go. The book was amazing it brought back so many memories of growing up in the70s being a Bowie fan. To be fair I’d forgotten the impact he made to me in the early years, I think we all get stuck in the now. The story itself was brilliant, I laughed ,I cried and times thought I was in the story. I wondered if this had happened to a Bowie fan. I didn’t want to finish this book and was really sad when I did. I could go on for ever but I know I’d give to much away. This book is definitely a must for Bowie fans especially the young Bowie fans they would get a great feel from a fans point of view what it was like. Anybody who enjoys reading would like this. It’s love,excitement,loss,tragedy and true in parts. If you are a Bowie fan please give this a read you won’t be disappointed. Thank you to the author Steve burrows ( I hope you see this) made a old Bowie fan feel like a teenager again. Good luck with this amazing book and thank you again.

28 May 2019 Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

A wonderfully well written book, I learnt a lot about one of my childhood heroes Ziggy Stardust that certainly enlightened me to facts that i wasn’t fully aware of. The characters Danny and Alice touched my heart . This book would be an incredible opportunity to be made into a film

Great early reaction to ‘Pretty Thing’. As a Bowie fan since 1972 I particularly aimed this book at other Bowie ‘kooks’ in recreating the Ziggy Stardust years from a fan’s point of view, conveying what it was like to have this androgynous figure shatter convention and change the whole of music and culture forever.

But I also wanted to make a great story too.. It’s a love story with a dark side, a thriller, a crime drama, full of nostalgia and of course accurate ‘faction’ about ‘Ziggy’s’ rise to stardom and what it was like to be at those concerts. I’d love you to let me know what you think….

Available on Amazon worldwide. Search title or author on your local Amazon site.

UK link to Amazon page: Link to ‘Pretty Thing’ page on Amazon UK
Pretty Thing cover V2 17.4.19

Historical Crime Fiction – Rob Docker – the bad cop!

Rob Docker is Birmingham born and comes from a disadvantaged family, his long-suffering mother the only glue that binds the family together. He and his twin brother Joe knew only domestic violence, brutal abuse, rejection and bullying. Finally he finds refuge in the police service in Birmingham and rises through the ranks to become a senior CID officer feared by officers and criminals alike. Our historical crime fiction books explore the depths that this character goes to achieve his aims. Our books in no way espouse the theories of ‘Noble Cause Corruption’ – there is simply nothing noble about Rob Docker and yet his failed relationships, his successes and his spiral into the criminality that he swore on oath to fight may well resonate in parts with some people. He portrays the very worst of what we can become. We would be surprised if anyone came to like the character of Rob Docker but if he was a real person he simply would not care. Docker understands criminals because he thinks like one – he is one himself. Our first book ‘Black Over Bill’s Mothers – A Storm Is Coming’ maps out his early years and follows him over a period of fifty years. Our next book ‘Keep Right On’ sees Docker applying the same vicious tactics that are his trademark when combatting organised football violence. He goes after the ‘bad guys’ – isn’t that what the public want? In ‘Pretty Thing’ Docker reminds us that he is still around and in a position to influence as the story focusses on a fresh set of characters. Later this year ‘The Touch Of Innocence’ will see Rob Docker front and centre of an enquiry into a paedophile ring and the powerful evil forces that protect them. This will probably be his toughest test to date but Docker has lost count of the ‘bodies’ he has left behind in his wake and is not ready to compromise. When evil meets evil there can only be one outcome.

‘Top Secret Worcestershire’ extract

This book currently enjoys a five star rating on Amazon UK and contains recollections from a number of people with real insight into the work that went on at RAF Defford, RAF Pershore and the scientific establishments at Malvern both during and after World War II. This is just a small extract from the book which reminds us that ordinary people often make exceptional things happen.


‘Top Secret Worcestershire’

Another five star review today for this book – ‘This is a must have book to own if you live in Worcestershire. So glad to find this informational book of the things you can’t find anywhere else, a real thumbs up!’

Early days yet but we are considering a Volume II next year to add to the rich ‘secret history’ of Worcestershire.

Radio Interview – ‘Lovesport’ Radio Channel

I had an interesting  chat this morning on ‘Lovesport’ Radio Channel about the current state of football-related hooliganism in the UK. As I have done in the past I acknowledged that most football fans are genuine, decent people who just want to watch a game that they love. That said there is a significant minority who spoil it with violent, and anti social,

behaviour and they need to be tackled. Whilst this is not the 1970s or 1980s I said that in my personal opinion the problem was on the rise again, with many incidents of violence, racism and sectarianism being reported in the last couple of years. I also highlighted the new challenges the police service faces namely there are significantly fewer police resources available to deal with such issues, its not currently on the ‘political’ radar, there is less news coverage, and new norms of violent crime to some extent ‘normalise’ some of the crimes that we now see happening in cities and towns around the UK. I hope that I am proved to be wrong!