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Wirral mum's humorous and heartbreaking take on frontline policing
A MEOLS mother who dedicated more than 20 years of her life to fighting crime has opened up about the highs and lows of frontline policing.
Handcuffs, Truncheon and A Primark Thong tells the story of Gina Kirkham’s alter ego, Mavis Upton – a thirty-something girl with a love of crisps and a deep hatred of big knickers.
The book – which former police constable Gina says is 25% true life, 25% true and 25% artistic licence – tells the story of Mavis and the satisfaction, heartbreak, fear and trepidation that comes with working in the police.
It starts with her early life and what shaped her to become the woman she is today, following her on her journey to join the police, the training and subsequent posting to a busy division.
“The book predominately shows the humorous side of her developing years, her career and her personal life,” said 55-year-old Gina.
“There are moments of poignancy and sadness but her penchant for Primark knickers, coral blush lipstick and her stoic nature sees her through all that life can throw at her.”
When Gina volunteered in the Special Constabulary in 1989 she never imagined the emotional rollercoaster she was about to embark on.
But now, after retiring from the force in 2012, Gina has put her life into words in the hope of sharing those emotions with the world, albeit through the eyes of Mavis.
“Being a police officer is an incredibly rewarding job and taking the time to care really can make a difference to the people you come into contact with on a daily basis,” said the mother-of-one.
“Every day you can have job satisfaction and pride in what you achieve for victims mixed with heartbreak, fear, trepidation, anger and just plain frustration.
“It was not always easy to shut your locker door at the end of a shift, turn off and forget some of the incidents and people you have dealt with.
“Sometimes the way of coping was with laughter, and a sense of humour which I think is quite unique to all of the emergency services.”
It was that humour that kept Gina and her colleagues going.
She added: “There were so many incidents over the years that not only caused comic uproar at the time, but actually became ‘legends’ repeated by word of mouth many, many years after those involved had thrown in their Warrant Cards and retired.
“It was these stories, as much as the ones I was personally involved with, that inspired me – along with my workmates telling me ‘You really should write a book when you retire’. So I did.”
Since finishing the book, Gina – who received a number of awards during her career, including being named Merseyside Police Officer of the Year – has been bowled over by the response.
She said: “I wanted the reader to get to know and like Mavis and maybe see her as someone they would choose as a fun friend to have.
“It was also important that it was a light, enjoyable read, a book you could pick up, put down and still feel part of it when picking it up again.”
Gina’s blog containing stand-alone stories and sample chapters has also been greatly received with more than 12,000 hits and readers in 57 countries.
Mavis even has her own Twitter account with just over 1,400 followers.
Gina added: “I would love to be represented and traditionally published but I am only too aware of what a challenge road I am taking.
“When they say that writing the book is the easy bit, they’re not far wrong.
“My dream would be to see my book on the shelves of Waterstones, or my local Tesco in Bromborough or even better, WH Smith at Liverpool Airport on the way to my holidays – now that would really mean I’d arrived.”
To read more about Mavis, visit Gina's blog here or follow @MavisUpton on Twitter.
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