To celebrate the release of her new book Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong, author Gina Kirkham tells us a little bit about herself. 

Gina Kirkham

Gina Kirkham

I am actually quite shy.

I know, it seems quite bizarre for someone who was a Police Officer and is now a writer of (hopefully) humour, to be so shy. Putting on the uniform was probably very similar to how Superman felt changing into his outfit, the only difference being I put mine on at home, not in a phone box and I wear my knickers under my combat pants, thank goodness. It does give you confidence to suddenly try to be the person you’ve always dreamt of being. Bold, brave, courageous and confident. In my everyday life, I would cringe at the thought of having to complain about mould on cheese in the local supermarket, but once the uniform was on, I’d bowl into pub fights, mass brawls and hang off motorway bridges without a second thought.

I once left my baby daughter at home alone.

Two miles from home, driving over the humpy-bumpy bridge I did a rather fervent mummy squeal as the car lurched forward over the crest and dropped down again. “Oooh little bumps for little girls...” I simpered whilst half turning to look at the back seat and my 3- week-old baby. To my eternal horror, it was empty – apart from Humphrey the Hippo glaring at me.

I had gone one better than my mum, who had inadvertently left me in my pram outside Woolworths in 1958, I had left my daughter tucked up in her carrycot...

.... on the coffee table at home.

I have overwhelming urges in other people’s homes.

I have a long-suffered compulsion for order, balance and tidiness. As the attending officer, I frequently had to check myself as my overwhelming urge to ‘interfere’ suddenly kicked in at the homes of victims, complainants and even offenders. On one visit I walked along the hallway of a rather well-to-do family, straightening every picture on the wall and whilst giving words of reassurance in the lounge, the direction of their frosty glares to my hands alerted me to the fact that I had subconsciously rearranged all their ornaments on the mantelpiece too.

I am a Nanny to two incredibly gorgeous granddaughters.

I was blessed with my first granddaughter, Olivia in 2009. Annie came along in 2012, just two weeks after I retired from the Police. They were a tremendous distraction whilst I came to terms with retirement, missing my colleagues and missing my work. I can now be found several times a week, in between writing, playing Crocodiles from sofa to sofa or crawling inside a plastic tent to have a tea party.

I first fell in love at 15

We shared half a sixpence as a token of our undying love for each other. After a little bit of kissing for the first time, I had found myself rushing to the chemist to frantically thumb through an information booklet. By paragraph 3, I was relieved to find that swapping spit couldn’t make me pregnant, give me acne or a hairy tongue. I did notice however, that I had developed hairy legs, but this may have been just an unlucky coincidence.

This relationship was to end in heartbreak, with me staring out of the window, crying into my hankie whilst listening to Nilsson’s Without You. I mourned a love lost for several weeks and half a ruddy sixpence I couldn’t spend.

I am a grateful fundraiser for Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

I have sadly lost both my mum and dad to cancer. Mum in February 2006 and Dad three years later in August 2009. Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is an amazing facility where they both received treatment in the early stages.

To be honest, I do the easy bit. I stay at home and raise the pennies whilst my fabulous hubby John, climbs mountains, searches for Lost Cities (I think that was what he was doing), treks across deserts, and forgoes his beloved pork pies and special fried rice during those times he is away carrying out his daring deeds. The benefit for me is the Sky remote all to myself and the toilet seat down for two whole weeks.

I have a terrible fear of heights.

Up until Sunday 3rd June, 1979 I didn’t know that I had a fear of heights. Probably because I had never really climbed anything higher than our stairs. On this fateful day, I was taken out onto Blackpool Pier for a family jolly of sorts. Halfway across I happened to look down through the slats in the boardwalk and that was it. I suddenly had a phobia and was frozen to the spot.

Two hours later I was eventually brought back to concrete by wheelchair, after my rescuers had dumped some poor Octogenarian out of it and onto a nearby bench. To this day, I still can’t climb metal grated steps/stairs or gantries without freezing like a myotonic goat.

I posted my first Manuscript submission to myself

After avidly reading chapter and verse of the Writers & Artists Yearbook, I took on board all the advice given. My first three-chapter submission of my treasured manuscript was to an Agent that didn’t accept electronic submissions, only physical copies. I carefully wrote out, in my best handwriting, a large manila envelope, with my name, address and enough postage to cover. Bundling everything together, I checked, re-checked and checked again, before skipping to the local post office.

Two days later, it was back through my letterbox. In my unbridled excitement, I’d put it all in the wrong envelope and had sent it to myself.

I hate having my photograph taken.

Just the mere hint of a camera is enough to send me scuttling behind the nearest wheelie bin, tree, car, lamppost or door. I can’t bear to see myself amplified in glaring colour, filtered or otherwise. The unbridled horror I felt when my Publisher asked for a photograph for their website can only be equalled by asking me to climb the Eiffel Tower.

To get the shot required an incredible amount of planning and a quick Google on how to do ‘selfies’. Sitting on the toilet, ambient lighting behind me did nothing to enhance my features, neither did a double shot through the mirror, bouncing the image back to my iPhone – but they used it anyway!

I really did go to Downing Street

As Police Officer of the Year award holder, I was invited to an Excellence in Policing function, all expenses paid by my Force, at 10 Downing Street to meet the then Prime Minster, Tony Blair. Arriving with my fancy invite clutched in my hot hands, in full uniform, I took the opportunity whilst waiting for his appearance, to check out the ladies’ loos after too many orange juices. Sadly, I got side-tracked sniffing the potpourri, admiring the gold-plated taps and thickness of their loo roll, so by the time I returned to the reception, Tony Blair had been, gone....and I had missed him.

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong is published by Urbane Publications on 18th May 2017.