Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Nightwatch


I did this painting a while ago and it sold straight away. I loosely based it on the idea of Nightwatch by Rembrandt. 


Over forty years ago I found myself for various reasons at Ryton-on-Dunsmore Police Training Centre.
I had wanted to go to Art College but had neither money nor a place to live. I didn't want an office job and had worked in a factory and on the railway so I thought I would try the police. At the time no one wanted the job so if they had a jacket to fit you were in!  Ryton-on- Dunsmore was an old army barracks but was then converted into a Police Training Centre.
Anyway I digress. I was sat in the front of a class of some one hundred officers in training. The class was believe it or not on saluting. Its funny how some things remain with you, but we had to learn what a salute was and when you did it.

I recall to today that
“A salute is an outward sign of an inward feeling of respect and humility.”



How to do you do it? “Longest way up shortest way down!”
Then we came on to the tricky part. When do you salute?

The drill sergeant stood at the front of the class.

“Hands up who would salute an army officer?”We all put our hands up.
“Yes they hold the Queens Commission” he replied.
“Hands up who would salute a funeral procession?” He asked.
We promptly all put our hands up.
“Yes a mark of respect.”This went on and it became a bit automatic for me sitting at the front until.
“Hands up who wouldn’t salute my wife?”
It suddenly became a very lonely place. I found myself alone with my hands wavering in the air and a very ugly looking drill sergeant glaring in my face.

“Why wouldn’t you salute my wife you horrible man?”Struggling for any excuse I mumbled,
“I don’t know your wife sergeant.”My life for the next 12 weeks was hell on the drill square and I became accustomed to names that even I had not previously heard.

I worked for exactly 30 years in the police and never regretted it. I would like to think I did a good job on the whole. When I left I became a full time artist and got a degree in fine art. "Its a funny old life." (Actually the original quote was from WC Fields, "Its a funny old world. A man's lucky to get out alive!").

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