December 06, 2010

The Policeman's Wife

Alan and Beverly have a little routine before Alan sets out to work. They make a coffee and sit at the kitchen table, watching the birds outside in the garden, and then Beverly kisses Alan goodbye at the front door.

           When he has his uniform on Beverly likes to watch him as he gets into his ‘work mode’. As they sip their coffee Alan becomes more composed; his movements are slow and deliberate, and his eyes focus on one spot in the garden. She knows that he is thinking about the day ahead and running through the schedule in his mind. No matter what mood he woke up into that morning, he leaves with a smile and walks purposefully down the drive to the car. He is a policeman, and he loves his job and takes it very seriously.

           Today is a little different though; he laughs and chats at the kitchen table because he is relaxed. This is because he is off duty and is going to complete his yearly riot training. “When we get there we’ll have to wait for hours for the other van to turn up because something always happens to it, it breaks down or the driver calls in sick.” He laughs. “Then we’ll get issued all these contradicting orders and then get left with only two minutes to put on full body armour. Happens every year.”

           Beverly laughs as she waves him off. She stands at the door until the car is out of sight. She knows that despite his complaining he really enjoys riot training, and tonight he’ll come back with all sorts of funny stories about the drills he was put through.

           When she goes back into the kitchen she listens to the news on the radio as she washes up the coffee cups. The reporter is talking about the student riots and comments about the ‘unlawful’ behaviour of the riot police. This upsets Beverly because most of the policemen in question are normal officers like her husband, who complete four days of riot training a year. The reporters fail to mention the unlawful behaviour of the protesters – she remembers the stories from the riots a few years ago. Alan’s colleague chatted to her about it at a Christmas party, and she still remembers what he said: “To be blunt Beverly I'm not sure if I could go toe to toe with 100's of baying protesters three inches from my face who would stick one on me if given half the chance or drag me into the fray. Some of the abuse is just awful…the lads get called 'Nazi thugs', 'fascists', 'goosesteppers' and…more colourful language. The guys who have to go through that, well I have a lot of respect for them. It’s a shame no one else does.”

           She remembers what he said because Alan doesn’t like talking about the nasty parts of his job. He tells her the jokes and the exciting stories, but not the things that would make her upset. Not the things that deny a policeman’s or woman’s identity as a human being - a husband or a wife, a father or a mother, a son or a daughter.

March 2023

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