Once upon a time I was an artless 22-year-old, fired with idealism, caring passionately about justice and fairness and society and all that.
Coincidentally (...or maybe not), my first 'proper' relationship was in its death throes. So, with a calculated eye, I looked about and wondered where all the men were, and I thought, 'they're in the police'.
The obvious thing to do was sign up for the special constabulary. I swore an oath, got given a costume, and happily went forth to direct traffic and stuff.
Mostly it was fun: zooming around in cars, watching fights outside nightclubs, flirting with men in uniform, etc. I avoided trouble wherever possible. Trouble was not my forte.
But one day, while dressed as a pretend police officer, I was walking round the town's annual summer fete, and the pretend police sergeant I was with noticed a tramp dozing peacefully under a tree.
"You haven't arrested anyone yet, have you?" the pretend sergeant said. "Go on, nick that old bastard. Get your first one under your belt."
"What for?" I said. "He's not doing anything wrong; just having a nap in the sunshine."
"Breach of the peace," he said. "He's bound to be pissed. BOP's a good 'un to start with, cos there's no paperwork - they just get chucked in a cell for a bit, then released. Go on, off you go."
I protested, but it was no good. I was just an artless 22-year-old, and he was a pretend police sergeant, and much bigger than me.
I shook the tramp's shoulder. He squinted at me, bleary-eyed.
"Hello. Excuse me. Erm, sorry, but, er, I've got to arrest you for breach of the peace. You, um, have the right to remain silent..."
I mumbled my way through the caution, thoroughly ashamed of myself.
Fortunately, the tramp had no idea what was going on.
I left the special constabulary soon afterwards.
But I was still rooting for the forces of good. I went and got a civilian job with the Metropolitan Police.
Soon after that, I stopped believing I could change the world.