It's that time of my life when friends and acquaintances begin to fade out and disappear. I joined the UK police force as a young man of only nineteen years. I was the youngest person on my shift (known as a 'block') by several years when I joined it; I was there to listen, to learn and to emulate the work of my vastly more experienced colleagues - a boy among men (and, sadly, only very few women in those days).
Time has rolled on, and on (and on), and I am now at the age where, had I stayed in the police force, I would be about to enter my last year of service before picking up my pension after thirty years. In the end I completed eighteen years before giving up on the best pension around in search of new horizons halfway around the world. I still fondly remember those days, however - days when I became part of a great - if loose-knit - team. It was a team of honest and ethical professionals who did their job in the best way they could, and for the best of reasons. We served the community because it was an honourable calling; it was truly a vocation.
Now, because I was so very young when I began my police career, the veterans to whom I so looked up and aspired to emulate are entering old age. Some of them have gone already - policing takes a heavy toll on a person and police officers do not, on average, live for very many years after they retire. Yes, some have faded into memory already - the memories of those who knew them as colleagues, and fewer who knew them as friends.
Much is made of old soldiers and their sad passing. I don't disagree with honouring their service to their country, but I do wish that the sacrifices and service of those members of the community who served in the police forces were more consistently recognised. In the course of a typical career, a humble constable (the most important position in the entire force, if truth be known) touches thousands, maybe tens of thousands of lives directly, and - exponentially - more indirectly.
Mike was a talented, funny, warm human being to whom I quietly looked up as a spotty faced teenage recruit. He was the same with everyone, regardless of their standing: reasonable, insightful, overtly friendly and naturally gentle - but cross him if you dare! A very bright man, he had the knack of asking THE awkward question at just the right moment to immediately stop the flow of bullshit. He successfully forged a career for himself built upon his love for the great outdoors, and his deep knowledge of countryside matters. In the course of his long career he made a great many friends and helped them and a great many more besides.
Mike was a thoroughly good person, and he exemplifies all that is good about policing. His memory and that of all his former colleagues deserves to be honoured by more people.