I’m not sure what it is that I like so much about Kate Atkinson’s writing. Perhaps it’s because the first of her books I read had Jackson Brodie, a former policeman who resigned and went on to do other things; I must have identified with him in some way. If you have ever been a police officer you will know what I mean, the moment you hand in your warrant card you relinquish a huge amount of power (and, at the time I did it, a degree of social standing). I have heard it said that ‘once a policeman always a policeman’. It isn’t true. What is true, and so personally irritating, is that you are so conditioned to the job you once did that for the rest of your life you are condemned to notice every legal trangression, however big or small. You probably need to have been a police officer to understand that – though I have been told by ex-colleagues who went the full term that their retirement came as a relief and they were more than happy to get out. Also, the police were different then – and I was in my late twenties when I left and hadn’t really grown up.
The book I am reading is one of her old ones, Human Croquet, first published in 1997.