Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Policeman's Secret - Meet PC Minshull

Whilst many of the customers at September’s have their favourite tables around the café, there are a few who prefer to sit or stand at the small bar by the back door, looking out at the roof garden terrace. One of these is PC Rob Minshull. A young beat officer, PC Minshull likes to include a quick visit to the coffee shop on his route most days, popping in around 11am for a swift coffee and a chat with Nessa and Purdy. Coincidentally, 11am is also the time when the day’s batch of freshly-baked muffins usually emerge from the oven…

Nessa is convinced that PC Minshull’s frequent visits have more to do with his attraction to her best friend and work colleague Purdy than his penchant for baked goods – despite Purdy’s vehement protestations to the contrary.

‘You are so way off the mark on this one, Nessa.’
‘I just think it’s odd that he always manages to visit on the days you work,’ Nessa smiles, much to the annoyance of her friend. ‘I don’t think it’s just your baking that he's fond of!’

Whatever her crazy best friend says however, Purdy finds more interest in the details of PC Minshull’s job than in deciphering his feelings for her. Growing up, Purdy always longed to do something exciting, exhilarating - dangerous even - with her life. For a long time during her childhood, she wanted to be a fighter pilot – until an unkind careers advisor at her secondary school crushed her hopes with one cruel condemnation: ‘You can’t do a job like that with those thick glasses, girl!’

Denied her dream profession, Purdy made the decision to keep her thrill-seeking tendencies for free time instead – leading to her participation in a dizzying array of white-knuckle experiences, from sky-diving to bungee-jumping, wing-walking to abseiling. Meanwhile, the discovery of contact lenses banished her much-hated glasses to the back of a drawer forever. Content, for the time being at least, to be working with Nessa, Purdy still loves to hear about people doing the kind of job she secretly craves.

As for Rob Minshull, the almost daily grilling he receives about his career from the confident red-haired girl with sparkly green eyes is easy to endure if it means he can spend a few minutes basking in the warmth of her full attention. In many ways, he would prefer not to have to think about his day job – the intricacies of which hold nothing more than a lifeless occupational obligation for him. He frequently tells himself that he should be used to the lack of passion in his heart for his chosen profession by now – after all, he has lived with its depressing reality for the past two years since he became a fully-fledged police officer.

With his father, two uncles and younger brother all choosing careers in the Police Force, it was perhaps inevitable that Rob Minshull would follow in their footsteps. His mother – herself the daughter of a Chief Constable - often referred to the Force as ‘the family business’ when he was growing up, yet Rob resisted the lure of the profession for several years. But as time went on, other available options gradually dwindled. A stint in computer sales proved unsuccessful; his office job with an insurance broker ended abruptly when the owner was prosecuted for fraud, and his brief foray into the murky world of telesales left him with nothing but a few new swear words and an unmitigated hatred for cold-callers. Finally, at the age of twenty-three, Rob gave up fighting and surrendered to the welcoming arms of the Force.

So he continues his beat, the daily drudgery of his job livened only by his brief visits to September’s and many discussions about arrests, self-defence techniques and thrilling pursuits with the gorgeous Purdy.

But what nobody in the coffee shop knows, what no-one in his family could ever conceive of, is that PC Rob Minshull has a secret life. A life so impossibly wonderful that he longs to share it with someone - to be able to fully revel in the surge of delicious excitement that washes over him whenever he thinks about it - instead of consigning it to a few stolen moments in the dullness of his day. Maybe one day, when Purdy’s enthusiasm for his job wanes sufficiently, he can reveal the truth to her. Maybe one day soon…

For Rob Minshull is so much more than just a young police constable pounding the beat of Northbridge’s streets. Away from his day job, Rob Minshull is Alice George – bestselling romantic novelist, whose debut novel sold out its first print within five weeks, garnering the plaudits of critics and readers alike. His visits to September’s provide him with more than just conversation and homemade muffins; when PC Rob Minshull is apparently making operational notes he is, in fact, sketching customers, scribbling imaginary life-stories for those that catch his eye, recording them in his Moleskine notebook which, like its owner, is pretending to be engaged in police duties.

But Rob now faces a new dilemma. An unexpected twist of fate led to his agent deciding to break with her usual email communication and call ‘Alice’ instead – unwittingly stumbling across his true identity. Far from being angry, she sniffed the publicity potential in his remarkable story and now wants to reveal his secret to the world.

‘It’s like George Eliot in reverse!’ she gushed, in a hastily arranged meeting with him last week. ‘You posed as a female in order to be taken seriously as a romantic writer. The world should hear your story!’

If only he could muster the courage to tell Purdy the truth…

© Miranda Dickinson 2008

1 comment:

a cat named cat said...

Ooh, I liked this post best of all so far. I love the "alice" twist haha. Aww, he needs to tell Purdy about it :)

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Welcome To SEPTEMBER'S...

...it's a coffee shop with a difference. Meet the people who work here and the customers that visit - all of them have a story to tell. So pull up a comfy chair, enjoy your coffee, maybe even indulge in something sweet - and listen to the stories that surround you...

written by Miranda Dickinson, author of Remember and The Mystical Wombat's Guide to Life