DAVID ARNOLD – Sunny Jim and his wayward bullocks

Jim Callaghan
Jim Callaghan

In a recent County Yarns, I recounted a story about the police, some “poached” fish and the Sussex home of James Callaghan, British Prime Minister from 1976 to 1979.

Bryan A Wallis of Polegate subsequently wrote to me: “You mentioned a ‘special area’ set aside for the Police Protection Team at Upper Clayhill Farm near Ringmer. In my day, this so-called special area was an ancient two-wheeled touring caravan.

“On one particular Sunday morning, a colleague Sergeant was in the said caravan when he heard someone knocking on the door.

“Upon opening it, he was confronted by the Prime Minister who said, ‘Good morning Sergeant. I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of a problem. The bullocks have broken into the winter wheat.’

“He then pointed to a field in which a sizeable herd of prime steers were contentedly grazing. ‘My word’, said the Sergeant, ‘you really have got a problem Sir’ and with that he gently closed the caravan door.

“It was felt at the time that the simple action of closing the door was sufficient indication to Mr Callaghan that the Sergeant was not about to volunteer the armed police officers under his command to become temporary herdsmen.

“Perhaps the (presumably later) presentation of the poached fish to the PM by some self-serving senior officer may have been some small recompense for any slight he might have felt on that sunny Sunday morning.”

Seeing the reference to a sunny Sunday morning reminded me that Mr Callaghan’s affectionate nickname was none other than “Sunny Jim”.

I really must thank Mr Wallis for sharing this amusing memory with us – even though it’s hardly the first time a British Prime Minister has been caught talking bullocks!