Tuesday, August 31, 1982


Depression must be my normal state, because a mundane trip into town is enough to plunge me into the pits of despair.

I exchanged the trousers I bought last week and bought Big Sur and Lonesome Traveler and, just for the sake of spending money, God by Rip Rig and Panic which on first hearing lacks drive or inspiration.

Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal: she filled it in every day so. . . ? Rioting on the streets of Warsaw and big demonstrations on the second anniversary of the right to strike etc.: a revolutionary situation. Lee rang from Cromer. They’ve been eating gruel as they ran out of cash.

Dad went to work for the last time today, and tonight he had a ‘do’ at the Police Club to celebrate his retirement. Neither he nor Mum were looking forward to it. They returned laden down with gifts: a whiskey decanter and glasses with a silver tray; a litre bottle of Bell’s; carnations & dahlias in a basket for Mum and, best of all, a pewter mug, with an inscription: “Presented to Ernest Martindale, Easterby City Police and Yorkshire Metropolitan Police, 1952-82.”

Dad had tears in his eyes as he showed me these gifts from people so obviously fond of him, the fruits of thirty years. His retirement card was signed by hundreds of people, even criminals who’ve known him for years (a spidery, barely readable signature from one). They were both full of sadness, despite efforts to put a smiling face on it. “It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never work with them again,” said Dad.

At midnight he finally signed off after thirty years and 199 days, switching out the dining room light in a half theatrical, half serious gesture, “to let the spirits out” as he said. He stood illumined in the doorway for a while, before going up to bed, a civilian again at long last.

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