4 June 2014
“Haw big man!” Phil sniggered as Andy jumped and tried to hide it, looking around for the source of the shout. “How ye been Johnno, just the man I wanted tae see.” Two men were gesticulating with each other on either side of Langlands Road. “I’m just gaun alang there,” said the man closest to Andy. “I’ll give ye a run up, ‘mon.” “Just what I wanted to hear,” said the man, walking across to meet his friend. “You see son?” said Phil as the two officers picked up their patrol pace again.” “That’s what can happen. Community. Helping people.” “What, giving a friend a lift two minutes up the road when you see him on the street?” “And it rubs off positively on the people close to it as it happens. Don’t you feel a bit happier, knowing that someone in Govan has had their day made easier by someone else, and that you were there to witness it?” Andy’s silence prompted Phil to go on further. “You’ll never get anywhere round here with that attitude.” “I thought I was supposed to help people. Those women the other day, did we help anyone there? Not even just in the short term, but long term. Did we have a positive effect on their lives, encouraging them to lead better lives in the future and, let’s be honest, lives that will make our jobs easier, even if it’s just by being more communicative with and respectful of the police?”
They kept walking until they reached Govan Road. The early June weather was persisting, Andy felt like wearing short sleeves even though it was colder than the brightness of the sun suggested. The area in front of the shops was beginning to fill up as the day was going on. Young mothers gesticulating wildly on mobile phones as they pushed prams, grey haired men and women shuffling along, still wavering being wrapped up enough to remain warm outside and dressing to enjoy the burgeoning summer weather. In his time on the beat Andy had noticed how rare it was to see younger people out in these situations. He saw one young man, early twenties with short dark messy hair and the beginning of stubble leave the job centre with his hands in his pockets, looking at the citizens of Govan before turning right at the bus station and vanishing from sight. As Andy watched the scene the young man was gone as soon as he had appeared, a hint of an anomaly in the population of Govan as slight as his fleeting appearance.
Andy was glad however that the day was relatively peaceful. Since his first major incident with the two women his introduction to life as a Govan police officer had been straightforward. He had started to settle into a routine which was important for him as it made him feel more at ease both with what he did and the way he believed people perceived him. Through his training he had been told that the most important aspect of community policing was not to appear as an authorial presence which existed to constantly survey and examine people but as an addition to the community by being simply a part of it. He was not to be special or remarkable, at least in his attitude to the people he walked amongst.
While they stood surveying the people of Govan, a car pulled up outside the bank that filled Andy with dread. He must have shown it. “What?” asked Phil. “Is something wrong?” A well-dressed man that looked strangely familiar to Phil even behind the sunglasses he was wearing got out and walked into the building. “Do you know him? Do I know him?” “Sort of,” said Andy. “We’ll be seeing him on Friday, anyway.” “He’s involved in the Fair?” “One of the guys paying for it.” “You don’t sound very happy about that.” The man came out of the bank with sunglasses in hand, allowing Phil to get a better look at his face. “Wait. He looks like you.” Phil looked at Andy then back at the man. “He looks a lot like you. Oh, he’s seen us.” The man had noticed by this point that two police in their bright yellow vests were standing in the middle of Govan, staring at a man going in and out of a bank. Phil’s mild recognition seemed to be shared as the man looked left and right before walking across the road. “Hello wee brother,” he said once he reached the two officers. Phil could see Andy’s face reddening. “Well now. I didn’t know Andy had a brother.” “Yes, as you can see from his car Ryan doesn’t live in Govan anymore. Andy and Ryan looked at each other for a few seconds. Phil was struck by not only how little they had to say but how little they even seemed to know each other – if they hadn’t confirmed their relation to each other he wouldn’t have known what was going on. “Well, I hate to interrupt this touching family reunion but I have to go over here.” Phil went off to reach an old man who was looking to cross the road, leaving the two brothers alone.
“Have you seen mum recently?” “Yes, actually,” said Ryan. “I was up at hers two days ago while I was in town seeing to stuff.” “What, is that it? You show up once in a blue moon and have nothing else to say?” Ryan looked nonplussed. “Well what do you want me to say? I was up, we talked, fine. I’m busy with work all the time and you live round here, if that’s what you’re implying.” Andy had to remind himself he was a police officer in a public place before responding. “Well fine. You leave me to it while you go swanning off into the city to move some numbers around on a screen. Go on. I have work to do. Bye.” Andy turned and walked off, not looking back even to see where Phil was. Once Phil had helped the old man across the road he made to go back to Andy and Ryan, only to see them storming off in different directions. He caught up with Andy. “So, happy reunion for you both?” Andy was silent.