The prompt this week was "I was only Joking". My first thoughts were Rod Stewart. I think we have a lot in common. Ha! Ha!
“I was only joking, my dear.”
My life has always been a bit manic, especially in the early 80’s but Rod Stewart helped me out. In five and a half years, I had changed from a sheltered, naïve grammar schoolkid into an adrenaline fuelled, plain clothes cop stuck in a relentless war against Scotland’s biggest crime lords. Disrupting and destroying their organisations was my mission. I had grown up fast. I had been psychologically prepared during the inner-city riots of 81 defending myself against fire bombs, missiles and blood crazed weapon wielding mobs in Priesthill, Teucharhill and Ferguslie Park. I had been emotionally engineered in the front line of Maggie’s war in 84 when every day thousands of outraged, resentful miners tried to shove me under Yule and Dodds trucks, thundering past a few feet behind me. I had been conditioned to survive in Glasgow’s toughest slums and schemes in the days when heavy industry was still dominant, alcohol controlled everyone’s existence and fighting with the police was a national sport. Mobile communication had been a game changer and drugs, people and arms smuggling were now a globalized and easily organised threat. I had to confront the new evil that was charging through the country and my head was as damaged as the poor souls who were hooked on the heroin. Yeah, my dad said I was ridiculous, off duty, creeping home before it got too light, and he blamed it on the wine. Yes, I broke some hearts and made a few, heat of the night, promises, but I was waging war with society and he didn’t understand. I didn’t have time for much else except duty and in those days, alcohol mixed with loose relationships was the only therapy available for the fatigued, cynical and emotionally withdrawn crime fighter who saw the enemy everywhere and didn’t have precious time to waste. No one could be trusted. Messing with all the rules was a necessary part of the campaign and we all took it seriously because fools didn’t survive long in the bad boys’ playground where the bullies only played by big boys’ rules.
So, in 1985, I was a street wise, 24-year-old, pro-active operative with just over 5 years’ experience, but a major player in the grey and shady twilight zone occupied by cops and gangsters where mistakes cost lives and the politics within were as deadly as any threat you came across in the field.
That was when she took it all too seriously. In the 12 months since I had met her I had been in and out of relationships and running free. I liked her, but she couldn’t be the one for me. She was normal, and I had problems with my psychology. I was part of a war and she was off on Holiday.
Yes, she was going to Australia for two months on a trip organised before we started dating and she wanted me to meet her family, for the first time, and drive them all to the airport. That sounded like commitment. Wedding bell warnings were ringing in my ears but two months, that was a lifetime away. I could be dead by then. I would probably have to take part in at least two dozen drug raids in that time, crashing through doors or stopping cars while taking down weapon wielding henchmen. I would need to meet scores of informants in places where if either of us were rumbled it wouldn’t be clever. I resolved however that death wouldn’t get me out of this. I was invincible and in truth, I wasn’t really worried about my personal safety, I was just looking for a way to hide my fear. My life was too complicated for normal relationships. John Wayne syndrome was a pre-requisite for our squad. Most of the unit were divorced and all of them were probably functioning alcoholics. At a push you might trust them with a gun but not with a relationship. We were all rocking and rolling in it together, but anyone who got through it would always be alone in the end. A blind man could see that marriage had no place in our game. I guessed, it would have to end as giving love was not my strongest point so act one was over without costume change and the principal left the stage.
Rod Stewart ran away with me and my brothers, in arms, to Aberdeen. Rod telling me from the cassette player that he didn’t want to talk about it and I agreed. We had both learned the hard way that the first cut was the deepest but hey, we still wore it well and at 24 I still thought I was sexy. We were off to Aberdeen and Maggie May or may not but tonight was the night and it was going to be all right. Like any other night since I had joined the war against crime I would eat, drink and be merry with my band of brothers because tomorrow we may die.
When I woke up the next morning I didn’t know what day it was but something inside my clouded messed up head wanted her to walk into the room. I couldn’t understand it but somehow, she was in my heart and in my soul. Rod taunted me all the way home and reminded me that she was on the other side of the world. “What am I gonna do” he mocked me. Australia was a big place and I had no idea where she was. What could I do?
I did what any love-struck, maverick detective would do. I unofficially made enquiries and tracked her down. I discovered exactly where she would be in the next week and sent the biggest bouquet of red roses they could transport along with a note declaring my love and emphasising I wasn’t joking.
On the 4th September 2018 the writing club prompt inspired me to pour my heart out for prosperity. That day was another mile stone in my life. Up until that point, the 31 years I had served and survived as a police officer had been the longest ongoing event in my life. I had been a policeman longer than I hadn’t been. I had served longer than some of my fallen colleagues had lived. Being a cop had consumed the biggest part of my life but one unofficial woman hunt, in a land down under, had now changed all that.
The 4th of September was our 31st wedding anniversary meaning my little Aussie lovebird ‘is’ officially the consistent factor in my life. We have now been betrothed longer than I was a policeman. Before I met her the Job was the reason for my existence but not anymore. She was good for me and still protects me from the job strewn demons that chase and would have consumed me if I hadn’t taken the hint from Rod Stewart and followed this old heart of mine.
He said it as a joke, of course, I mean, how else can you explain Rod, the man who tempted me into a death till us do part relationship, saying, "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."
He must have told Penny Lancaster, “I was only joking, my dear” because it looks like she played her part protecting him in his war against drugs too. I’m glad we both got through it, Rod!