Can we keep them? Pleeease? I promise to look after them and feed them. And look at all the stuff they come with - guns, cuffs, truncheons. Pleeeease? Can I keep ONE then?
Several years ago, the Colonel invited me on my first trip to New York. He had been there countless times shoring up world peace; I was seduced by the dollar-pound ratio. He would fly in from Holland and join our connecting flight from Heathrow to save me arriving alone at 1:00 am in what I envisaged as ghetto badlands, iron-grated graffitied hell. There was a local storm and he missed the connection. Rather a metaphor for the relationship at that time.
So I went alone. The Colonel had arranged limo to take me to my hotel. I locked the doors and sent furious texts. Eventually, the window slid back and the driver suggested I open my eyes. We were emerging from the tunnel into Manhattan. Never in my life have I fallen so immediately and completely in love with a city. The entire hotel window was full of the Chrysler Building, and I spent the night wrapped in the duvet looking out at a view I pretty much memorised.
The Colonel got there in the end. Another metaphor. It was every film, book and song I have ever seen come to life - the pavement where Sally hopes she'll never meet Harry again and drives off with grape seed on her car window; every schmaltzy black and white evening-gowned drive through the park in a horse drawn carriage; nose to Tiffany's glittering windows; Holden's angsty flight through Grand Central Station; Saks, snowfall and drinks in Bemelman's Bar. The NYPD Choir didn't quite get around to singing me Galway Bay but two of their hunky sons peeled off layers of gloves and mended my mobile so I could call home. The Colonel even morphed into Michael Caine and read me ee cummings between dusty shelves in a bookshop.
He bought me a fabulous sea-coloured velvet dressing gown in La Perla. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw - foam-and-forest-green-depths; luscious velvet lined with silk. The sort of robe you'd wear to feed your Irish Wolfhounds, standing wistfully on your huge lawn watching the Spitfires roar away and knowing it was all that would keep you warm for three years.
It's done some time now; swanking round the table at smart Christmas breakfasts; comforting poorly bots and snuggling puppies; coveted by my girlfriends; warm in winter, elegant and cool in summer. A tiny bit frayed with a few stains it didn't have last year. But still beautiful, unique and makes me happy and grateful every time I wrap it round me.
Like rather a lot of things this January.