Thursday 5th November 1992   Morning surgery 11:20

“I don’t know why I’m here, Dr Dennis.”
“It was to review your medication.”
“Oh! I’m still taking the tablets. I don’t need them but I’m still taking them.”
“I think you do need them, Ray. You were really ill.”
“Anyone would be ill if they had been through what I’ve been through.”
“Are you keeping yourself busy?”
“Not, really.”
“Are you looking for work?”
“No, I’ll never work again. Once you’ve been in the Met, done the initial training and worked for 3 or 4 years, you’re ruined. The job’s too stressful. There are hundreds like me out there. Every single one of them is wrecked. You see them waiting at bus stops but never catching buses, standing aimlessly on street corners or sitting in cafes for hours.”
“Could you do something else? Something less stressful?”
“I can’t even think about work. I told you, they’ve ruined me.” Ray shook his head.
“It’s a shame after all your training.”
“You never forget those skills, though. I could still go under cover. Put me in any room full of people and I’ll blend in. I’ll disappear.”
My Dad nodded. “I suppose it’s second nature to you.”
“I was number one for surveillance in my unit. Even now, I never miss a thing. I was outside the Vauxhall Factory in Rossmore road last weekend. There was a gang of men there, planning a hit on Bramwell’s. I automatically went into surveillance mode. I watched everything. I made a mental note of every potential witness. I could describe them all to you now. I was going to intervene as the men approached the shop but one of them recognised me. I’d prosecuted him several years ago for an armed robbery. I saw him whispering to his cronies. He must have called the job off because I was there. They sauntered past the shop then, joking and laughing as if they were out for a Saturday afternoon stroll.”
“Do you do any exercise?”
“I don’t need to. Haven’t you heard about Hendon? The physical training is unbelievable. Once you’ve been through there, you never lose that fitness. Every day after our theoretical classes, we’d go straight to the exercise yard. The instructors were psychopaths. They worked us like dogs. They tried to break us down. All around me, other trainee coppers would be dropping like flies: cramp, dehydration, heat stroke. I was one of the few that could withstand the regime. Physical extremes have always made me stronger and sharper.” Ray gave my Dad a knowing look.
“How long were you in the police for?”
“Not long. I got out as soon as I could. There’s a few that stay in the force. They’re the ones with something wrong with them, something up here.” Ray pointed to his head. “To put it bluntly, they’re mad. The sane ones like me get out while they can.”

I don’t know why I’m here.