To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Hong Kong

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It was a year ago more or less.... Kowloon wasn't his turf and he was unfamiliar with the layout of the station. He tried to make himself inconspicuous by a pillar which commanded a good view of the exits and the bank in the ticket hall . He was early.

Commuters deposited off of the escalator flowed past. There was the usual early evening mix of wives and husbands going home to family after another drudge day at the office;, tourists not sure of where they were going nor more immediately how to feed the ticket machines and young women, some nervous about being stood up, others less than eager for yet another wild night on the town.

He systematically scanned faces wondering who was on the job and if so whether he would see any of them later that night. Dead on time she passed in front of him, pausing only to complain that he was early and that his phone was off. Following up the stairs he checked - tone and vibrator off - 6 missed calls. "It's my role in life to wait for you" he called after her, for the benefit of all within earshot. She flushed but smiled back at him.

As they stepped out into the street he took her arm and edged her up close to the buildings. They were less than a mile from Mong Kok where an acid thrower was still on the loosed. Neither had thought to bring an umbrella. 200 metres further on they turned into a side street, crossed over and headed towards a small hotel. She only glanced at the entrance next door as she swept past. It was no surprise to him that she missed the sign. He knew she would have difficulty picking out a suspect from a line up and that if challenged she would freely admit that she didn't see any doorways let alone anyone lurking suspiciously.

The concierge patiently directed her back and they rode the lift up to the small lobby. He was surprised when the bridesmaids manning the reception table didn't ask for their ID cards. Speed reading upside down (a skill perfected on the job) he noticed they were working from a roll sheet. With the exception of the civilian names in one corner, every one else was listed by their badge number with those belonging to femail officers prefixed by "WP".

No one notice that he signed using his Nom de Guerre "Duncan D'Swordelly" nor that he hung back whilst she entered the banqueting hall as if on a drugs bust. He preferring to slip in unnoticed although in hindsight that was never going to happen. Heads panned like motion detecting cameras. His presence provoked close scrutiny from the younger officers. They were clearly asking themselves whether they should remember him from Training College or whether he was a Senior Officer from Central they just hadn't met? . Unconsciously his gait changed as he stepped forward, thinking wryly "Just call me Gene or better still .. the Guv".

He caught up with her just as she was making the hand over to the pregnant woman. Nothing like doing it in plain view of a room full of policemen. For all they knew the bag contained nothing more sinister than baby books.

He behaved himself when introduced to the brides parents keeping it to a modest knee bend and "evening all". He'd been warned not to enquire after grandparents or Godparents (especially not the godfather).Since they were "family" they were seated next to the top table.He chose to keep his back to the wall with a clear view of the room, not that he expected any trouble - there were surveillance cameras mounted in the ceiling and he suspected that the photographers in room were moonlighting Crime Scene Officers.

The typical Hong Kong Restaurant murmur (why whisper when you can shout) was unusually punctuated by frequent "YESSIR's" as junior officer answered superiors. At the next table a senior officer flanked by his subordinates was holding audience. Juniors were reported in, showing their respect before being dismissed to find their tables. The scene was being repeated across the rapidly filling banqueting hall.

As part of the inner family circle they were formally offered "tea" by the bride and groom. The groom grinned at him expectantly and blurted "you're so funny!". They hadn't even started ! Was he on something , had he been slipped a mickey or was it just a natural high ? Putting this aside, he reached into his jacket and took out the Red Pocket. He paused, glanced at the watching officers,and looking the couple he said (for the benefit of the ICAC) "I want this to be clearly understood that this in no way constitutes or should be interpreted as a bribe. The groom giggled and said again "you're so funny". Perhaps he was just wired!

The photographers started taking group pictures with the bride and groom.(rather like taking mug shots of activists at a demonstration) As PTU teams were called up by their unit numbers (deploying quickly for their photos) it became apparent that apart from officers actually on duty, entire units from the new territories were present.

Whilst these photos were being taken, western style cake (light sponge, cream and fruit) started to appear at the tables. A similar cake was was brought forth for the couple to cut. He watched as the knife used was apparently slipped into an evidence bag (?) He suspected that samples of cake (unusual at a Chinese wedding) might also find their way into the labs for testing. It turned out that the senior Officer on the next table had specially made the cakes for the couple (for which they effusively thanked him - THANK YOU SIR! It's nice to know that experienced police officers have such benign hobbies as baking (perhaps his therapist recommended it?)

As expected the 7 course was excellent but then again would you expect a restaurant to serve a bad meal at a police function any more than at a Triad function. Indeed the only time better food might be served would be if the function organised for officers of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

During the meal the bride and groom,their family and friends visited each table to drink a toast with the guests .Although this is traditional at Chinese wedding he noted the "friends" were clearly well trained in crowd management techniques. and efficiently shuttled the couple and immediate family from one table to the next in as fine demonstration of "kettling" as you hope to see. The Met could clearly learn a thing or two from them. He would have to drop Sir Ian an email about it.

When the banquet ended unlike other guests he did not slip any "oranges"into a bag (plain or otherwise) he just discretely wiped his prints from his glass etc and left with his wife, walking past the line of family and friends drawn up. Resisting the urge to salute, he simply nodded and muttered goodbye, only too pleased to be stepping into the street on his way home across the harbour.

This is a true story: (mostly):My nephew (in law) Pan (short for Panda) is a member of a Police Tactical Unit and last year he married Zoe (also a police officer).They now have a beautiful daughter Esme. (and for some reason entirely beyond me he really does think I am funny) |
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