Walking through the Henry VIII gate for the last time yesterday afternoon, I bade farewell to the policemen on duty.
“Bit of a change”, I said, “from Windsor Castle to the 77 bus”.
“Depends where you got on the bus”, one of them replied.
“Heathrow Airport”, I answered.
“You’re escaping”, he said.
“Escaping what?” I thought to myself, but didn’t stop to ask. He and his armed colleagues were busy watching the gate through which up to 30,000 people a day pass in the summer months.
A Presbyterian colleague once remarked, “The grass in the other man’s garden is always greener – but it’s just as hard to cut”.
To me the policeman was on duty in idyllic surroundings, standing in the midst of living history, but to him heading for Heathrow airport meant escaping.
I thought for a while about his duties there. Enforcing the law tends to mean dealing with people who are not going to be pleasant to you. It’s rare that someone speaks to a policeman to tell him good things; at best it’s to ask directions, at worst it’s who knows what?
Perhaps he was right and perhaps my Presbyterian friend was wrong. Perhaps I was escaping and perhaps my grass is far more easily cut than that of an armed policeman on security duty at a royal palace.
Maybe journeying on the 77 bus was better than standing at the gates.