The French police picked me up near Nice as a suspected runaway when I was 19, as I matched the description of a missing 15-year-old.
By the time they had finished interrogating me, and I swear I told only the truth about everything – my British birth, no not English but Scottish but born in Ireland on the way back from India because of the whole bit about my mother’s no-flying thing and yes my French was standard 17th-century Canadian accented and I was carrying official papers with a US address although I was temporarily on loan to France with a UK passport and everything – the detaining officer, trench coat and all, had a twitch in his right eye like that of Inspector Dreyfuss in the Pink Panther movies.
I ran away from home to go to sea.
Sunset Point was my destination, and when the policeman picked me up, I refused to give my real name or address. I informed him my name was Popeye and I was headed for the water. I was all of three years old.
I still remember that tall man standing between me and certain death (in the form of my mother) as he explained that he’d promised to take me to the Point if I told him my address. He did, and I have respected that kind of honor ever since.
I still have a thing for cops. And sailors. But cops, too, yeah.