Anyway, as I said before, I'm still sort of at work but in holiday mode, and that chap there featured recently. His name is Alfie Moore and he's a stand up comedian - a change of career following 18 years as a policeman.
Yeah, I know! I just had to go and catch his show when he played the Brighton Dome Studio a few days ago. I wanted a flavour, all be it a comic one, of the British police. My main character in North to South, Polar North, is a cop. A Glaswegian detective who comes to Brighton to assist in the investigation into the mysterious death of his boss's son. People say you should write about what you know, and a lot of the book calls on what I know: Brighton & Hove as a city; the gay community; Scottish mentality; human emotion; phobias and such like. Oh yeah, and a major theme in the book is sex and violence, which is something Jack Brighton knows a little about, if I say so myself. But I don't really know about the police - or at least I didn't before starting the book - beyond what fiction, TV and movies, and the media had told me. I had a concept, but I didn't actually know any cops to check this against. Rather than base the book on these assumptions of what it would be like to work in a police environment, I did a lot of research, delving into Police procedure manuals and reading various articles. I also got in touch with liaison officers from various sections of the police, including a very helpful officer from the Gay Police Association Scotland who reset some of those assumptions, for which I am very grateful. All this was done over the internet from Gozo where I was living at the time. I still hadn't met, or come face to face with an actual cop.
Busman's holiday then. I had to go see Alfie. He was quite funny and I enjoyed his tales from working in the sex offenders unit. And much to my delight Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp was in the audience a few rows behind me. He's the divisional commander for Brighton & Hove, and that role features quite big in the book. I have it occupied by a woman, but it was nice to actually see the man who's job my fictional character plays. He seemed an all right sort. Not sure what he'd make of my book, though. Would a divisional commander read a book where his/her role is featured? Perhaps he could do it on his day off... Now that really would be a busman's holiday.