Paul Mackay am 15. Oktober 2012

That first Seiko watch with the rugged stainless steel case and band lasted me through all of my adolescence. It got me to the school bus on time, told me when the tennis court was mine and when I had the squash court to play on. It became a part of me in those times before smart-phones. But over time the pin that held the band to the watch case deformed and occasionally the band would uncouple and I would have to rescue the watch before it fell. But, reaching adulthood, a destructive flaw in my character showed itself, a certain indolence. So I just never got around to having the strap-pin replaced and, eventually I lost the watch.

I remember the night I lost the watch. It was as I bashed through thick bushes having breached the perimeter security of the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington. I had been spotted by a Police patrol and was seeking to get away. It was a Sunday night, around 3.00 a.m. in the morning. I was, in fact, also in the Police having joined the New Zealand Police Force (as it was called then; now it is a "Service" not a "Force") immediately on my 19th Birthday. After 3 months training at the old Trentham Military camp I was posted to Wellington Central Police Station as a probationary Constable. It was a great job for me. My character is not made for repetitive and boring activities.  But I love a challenge and being a 19 year-old New Zealand Police Constable in 1979 provided challenge, excitement and stimulation. I loved being on patrol outdoors in one of the most beautiful port cities in the world. I couldn't believe that I was paid to do a job that I would have done for free. Every day I looked forward to the beginning of my shift. It was a most wonderful period. So it was that occasionally on quiet night-shifts an exercise would be concocted to test some aspect of the police response. On this particular Sunday night I had been chosen, with another, to test the perimeter security of the New Zealand Parliament. It was a bit scary because although the New Zealand Police are not armed the Diplomatic Protection Squad (as it was called then) were armed and they would be the first responders. In addition, the Police Dog handler on duty would also be a first-responder.  A Police Dog cannot tell the difference between a Policeman and a crook - we all smell like humans so there was always the slight fear of being bitten.

But the challenge, to see if it was possible to get past our colleagues and the electronic alarm systems and get into the Parliament - legally - was unbeatable and so the two of us began our incursion. We had, in fact, got over the perimeter fence, which at the time consisted of wrought-iron railings from the 1800's when the Parliament was built, when we were spotted and so we made a run for it. In fact we did get up the steps of the old Parliament before we were cornered and cuffed to give that bit of realism. As the handcuffs went on my wrist I realised that my watch was gone.

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