The City Weekly (incorporating the Sydney Times),
October 15 - 21 1998

mikey robins picture

The not so mod squad

When I think of police I always have two conflicting images in my head. Firstly I think of the young men and women (in some cases worringly young - is it just me or does anyone else find someone with a handgun and acne an unsettling prospect?) who give all their servicing to the community, and secondly, I think of the police that we all know better than our own relatives.

I am of course talking about the fighters like Jessica Fletcher, Hetty Wainthropp and Matlock. That's right, it is a little known fact that the greatest sleuths of our time are of retirement age who split their time between bingo, cashing pension cheques and putting serial killers behind bars.

Next time you're thinking of committing some crimminal act have a good look around . . . is Nanna taking notes? Is that lollypop lady wearing a wire? Is that busload of pensioners about to ask you to spread them and read you your rights bbefore cautioning you to get a haircut and phone your mother more often?

I mean, it makes sense doesn't it? The elderly are naturally suspicious, they have plenty of time on their hands and love nothing more than pointing out just what the younger generation are doing wrong. Although they tend not to be all that reliable once they get into the witness box, often confusing the suspect with the nasty man who reads the gas monitor or Geoff Harvey. Wheras the police on the streets look too young to have a gun, the elderly still have fond memories of charging around Europe with bayonets fixed and thoughts of dark, uncomfortable places to stick them and, although they tend to fall asleep on a stakeout, at least they bring along a thermos of hot tea.

In these days of police cutbacks I urge the powers that be to take a leaf from these television cops and let the elderly join the thin blue line to make it a thin blue slow moving line that needs a nap in the afternoon. There is one major difference between the real and the television world: in the real world crime occurs out on the streets and, in the world of Jessica Fletcher and Matlock, they live in small country towns that seem nhabited by two sorts of people, murderers and murder victims. The fact that after several years on air it is amazing that the whole community is not either pison or the cemetry seems to have escpaed the cemetery seems to have escaped the producers.

But from these shows we can logically deduce that the elderly attract crime, so let's get them out their amongst it. It's a win-win situation: for them it's an outing and for us we get to see that reassuring sight of lots of flashing blue lights, even if they are attached to walking frames.

-mikey robins

typed up by VellaB