Remembering

It was the grandest of adventures – my life in blue. 

I remember the moment I first knew that I wanted to be a Copper. The PC walking down the other side of Hammersmith Broadway won’t have seen the tentative schoolboy standing at the bus stop. But I saw him. And, from that moment on, I never seriously considered doing anything else.

I remember being driven through the gates at Hendon for the first time, all nerves and expectation. Sergeant Parkes was at the wheel of the minibus, with half a dozen of us sitting in the back, wide-eyed and wondering.

I remember the marching and polishing and running and revising.

I remember my first day on patrol and my first vehicle stop. I remember being terrified. I remember catching my reflection in tall shop windows and that unmistakeable sense of pride at who I was becoming.

I remember my first armed incident.

I remember my first nickname: Tarquin or, more often, Tarkers. Apparently, I talked a bit posh.

I remember my first arrest, my first dead body, my first car crash, my first pub fight, my first murder scene. Rites of passage in a policing life.

And every contact left a trace.

I remember the canteen and the snooker room: the places where we would gather in the rare moments of quiet – to smile and let off steam and set the world to rights. I remember lock-ins after Late Turn at ‘Stickies’ – the pub behind Brixton nick.

I remember the first time I called for Urgent Assistance and the blessed sound of sirens approaching from every direction.

I remember the lung-busting foot chase across the South Circular. I remember winning it after thinking I’d lost it. I remember walking into custody with my prisoner, feeling just that little bit taller.

I remember laughter and tears, exhaustion and elation, heart-break and hope.

I remember lives being lost and lives being saved.

I remember being punched in the face and the sight of my own blood speckling the front of my shirt. I remember the man who hit me disappearing under a pile of uniforms as my colleagues arrived to help.

I remember the suspect with the meat cleaver and the shattering sound of gunshots in the near distance.

I remember endless faces and places: some of them seared into my soul.

I remember the colleagues who fell, who paid the greatest price – men and women like Pat and Derek and Phillip and Nina and Kulwant and Nigel and Gary and Adele. I loved them, though I’d never even met most of them. Because I was one of them.

I remember standing for Keith. Thousands of us.

I remember the aftermath of riots and bombs. I remember the stories of those who went down into the tunnels. Down into hell. I remember the smoking rucksack on the platform at Shepherds Bush. I remember the Siege of London. I remember the Olympic Games. I remember yesterday’s shift written in today’s headlines. I remember the days when everything went right. And the days when everything went wrong.

I remember breaking. 

Now mending.

I remember friendship and sacrifice, horror and harm, courage and compassion, sadness and silence, humility and humanity, the very worst and the very best that people can be. I remember most of all the everyday heroism of the men and women who police our streets.

For the rest of my days, I will remember. What it is to live a life in blue.

Version 2

 

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12 thoughts on “Remembering

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  1. Bravery can be shown in many ways in times of trouble and violence but it also shines when people overcome any difficulty! Keep sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I usually pick up your observations from my daughter (resigned in disgust 2017 after 13 years), or job related Facebook pages. I admire them all, and I think that it would have been good to know you during my 33 years (76-09, plus 1 as a gadget).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An excellent, heartfelt and very evocative piece, every word of which resonates with me, as I am sure it would with every one of my ex colleagues. Thank you for taking the time to put this piece together, thank you for taking the time to remember, and thank you for ensuring that others continue to remember too – every contact does indeed leave a trace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a policeman’s wife your words of glancing back are superb ..
    I wrote a blog once as I was so fed up with the abusive words written about the police .
    It was not dissimilar to your memories ..
    I asked my readers to remember who walked miles looking for there child/mother / father … stood respectfully by a body hanging from a tree held the hand of a poor soul as they took their last breath..
    and reminding them a police officer is a human doing a job
    Enjoyed your memories ..
    tread boldly Sir

    Liked by 1 person

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