Friday, December 11, 2009

The Smiling Policeman

The policeman was not only pleased to have his photograph taken but appeared to be of an altogether cheerful disposition. I felt confident enough to show him the result. I suppose Sunday guard duty at the Vatican is not the most difficult of duties - but who knows? He had an admiring crowd in any case with that winning smile! As I am always saying, a policeman is a sign of authority and most of us confess to feeling nervous if approached by a policeman, even when we know we have done nothing wrong. Uniforms often daunt civilians. Their clothes mark them out as being in authority, even nurses in hospital. The uniform gives them the symbolic authority of the father. So the Laughing Policeman song is funny because we don't expect the authority figure, the stern father, to laugh.
He laughs upon his duty, he laughs upon his beat
He laughs at everybody when he's walking in the street
He never can stop laughing, he said he'd never tried.
And once he did arrest a man and laughed until he died.
I used to put money in slot machines at the seaside and watch a comical caricature sing this song - and I think this rather proves my point about authority figures. Buona fortuna, il signor policeman!