WHAT have the Romans ever done for us? You probably know the rest of the famous scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian sketch, so I don’t propose to go over the People’s Front of Judea, roads, aquaducts, sanitation, wine and the rest of it. (Yes, since you wondered, I just watched the scene again; partly to recall the details and partly because god knows I need a laugh at the moment.)

17 years ago when I joined in the mass act of faith that was the decision to sign up to the (relatively) new policing structures, I had a pleasant but inchoate notion of what I would say in five or six years time when the local dissidents who condemned me as an insult to the memory of Plunkett, Pearse and Tone asked what the PSNI had ever done for me.

“Truth,” I’d say with a smug smile, thinking of the courageous and inspirational steps taken by the newly-minted police service to separate itself from the RUC’s black history of lies, cover-up, deception and murder. And I’d laugh in the faces of the dissy Keepers of the Flame as I outlined to them the tsunami of information and evidence released from the fetid tomb where the RUC bodies are buried; and I’d point to the relieved and emotional families whose lives were handed back to them by the PSNI’s decision to give them the transparency they needed to find the bitter succour of truth and justice.

Unfortunately, if I was to sit down with those who complained most loudly about my 2007 decision to give policing here a go, I’d be red-faced and mumbling and they’d be the ones sporting the Roger Moore single eyebrow. And it would be the Super-Chucks sitting cross-legged before me giving me a list of ways in which the PSNI has laboured conscientiously and tirelessly over the years to make me look a complete and utter dick.

The PSNI since its inception has invested a jaw-dropping amount of ingenuity, passion, commitment, money and resources into making enemies out of victims – many of whom, like me, decided back in 2007 to put a coin in the PSNI slot machine and give the lever a pull. But to their credit, they realised they’d lost their money pretty early on and walked out of the arcade. Me? I’ve kept putting in coin after coin, chasing my losses for 17 years, telling myself like the most hopelessly addicted gambler that the one big win was coming that would wipe out all the disappointment that went before – a win that would stop the graffiti merchants from spraying on the walls near my home the details of the pact they believe I’d made with the RUC devil.

With the recent expiry of the Legacy Act deadline, the reinforced doors of the aforementioned tomb where the truth about the policing past is buried clanged shut forever. I might have felt a little better if the PSNI had pressed a metaphorical cold compress to the brow of those sick and tired of the bad faith and bullying. But even as the legacy clock began the first of its midnight strikes, the PSNI was feverishly briefing m’learned and m'well-paid friends on the final act of the heartbreaking drama.

When that twelfth chime sounded it was promotions and itemised bills-by-the-hour all round, and when the headaches from the all-night party eased and it was back to work, the first task in hand was to clean up the mess left by their spying on my oul’ mate Barry McCaffrey and any other journalist who might be interested in finding out anything about the cover-ups the PSNI have sworn to protect and serve.

But that legacy midnight hour signalled not just the end of the last vestige of hope for victims, it signalled the end of what we might call my James Duffy years. Duffy is the Dublin bank clerk from the James Joyce short story ‘A Painful Case’; a vain, timid man “ever alert to greet a redeeming instinct in others but often disappointed.” I recognise Duffy’s vanity in my desperation not to be proved wrong on policing; I see his timidity in my reluctance to tell any of Jon Boutcher’s PSNI Chief Constable predecessors that enough's enough.

Will my pathetically overly-cheery cooperation with the PSNI be replaced by the sullen resentment I perfected during my dealings with the RUC throughout the course of the conflict? I don’t know, to tell you the truth – I’ll go with my gut at the next traffic stop or next time I’m sucked into the majesty of the law. But I’m returning to favouring the moniker Trevors over the PSNI. It’s a word I invented a long time ago, a word that gained a modest amount of traction outside the policing family.

And what was a Trevor? Well, it described yer bog-standard peeler deployed in communities he understood less than he understood the tribes of the Amazon basin. Sandy moustache; semi-detached in Comber; 20 B&H before lunchtime and a bottle of Bell’s after; baton round the kidneys for any Fenian within reach; plastic bullet in the back of the head for any Fenian out of reach. In other words, a Prod in a uniform who viewed policing Catholics rather as a farmer views dunging out the barn.

So, hello again, Trevor. It’s been a while. Can’t say I’ve missed you.