Since the end of the war there had been an increasing number of incidents in our area in which people were bruised whilst out and about, usually on the arm or leg, often the inner thigh or inner upper arm by an unseen assailant. In the early fifties some reporter or other in the local paper had decided that they were more than likely the work of one person, and coined the nickname “The Yorkshire Nipper” for the perpetrator of these outrages, differentiating him from “Jack the Nipper” who used to bring up bruises on the legs of ladies of the night on foggy evenings in Victorian London. The pattern of these more recent crimes was always the same, a crowded bus or city street, a theatre foyer, a sporting event or a fairground. Some person, often but not always in drink, would be behaving in a loud or uncouth manner, using blue, saucy or ignorant language. Suddenly they would yelp, redden and rub at a sharp pain. The assailant would disappear quietly in the commotion. The nipper had struck again!
In the summer of 1957, a new chief was appointed at the local Constabulary. One Inspector Norris Bent, who set his sights on apprehending the Nipper.
In truth the crimes had been becoming less frequent in the past few years, but Bent knew that if he was the one who was responsible for clearing the streets of the Nipper for once and for all, he would be hailed a hero. He got himself interviewed in the local paper. He announced that it was his belief that the nipper was going soft. That he wasn’t the man he used to be, that he was a coward. He announced that he believed that the nipper was probably a degenerate milksop who had had inappropriate relations with his own mother. It was all a cunning trap. The streets were flooded with undercover police officers, men and women, who deliberately behaved in the uncouth manner that they usually reserved for the constabulary canteen. They remarked loudly on the appearance of passers by, they sang bawdy songs, they swore, they made personal comments, they provoked.
The nipper took the bait. He got four police constables went home bruised that day, which equalled the nippers total for the last eighteen months. But alas, the fourth one was his undoing. The final victim of the Nipper, PC Jack Nadger managed to catch the sleeve of his coat as he made his escape. The jacket was torn, rendering him easy to spot. There followed a thrilling pursuit during which the Nipper managed to board a train as it was leaving the station. Telephone calls were made down the line and cars dispatched bells ringing and sirens wailing. The Nipper was apprehended as he made a desperate leap from the train as it pulled into Driffield station. The mystery was solved. The nipper was a sixty nine year old man. A man who believed that The Lord God Almighty has spoken to him, telling him that it was his divine purpose to nip the unrighteous. Hard. It was terrible news for me. The Nipper was my father!
Auntie Doris’s pop pick of 1957: “Love Letters in the Sand” by Pat Boone. Lovely song. Ruddy silly place to write love letters though.