Howard Broad has had a horrible week, to put it mildly. Or, as he puts it, a week which has been excruciatingly embarrassing. So much so that you sit and look at him and think: Most people would have gone to bed, pulled the covers over their heads and refused to come out. Ever.
But, of course, he is the police commissioner and doesn't have that option. Still, he's done all the media, all week, and now he's stuck in his office with me for a tightly scheduled hour which goes for half an hour after that. He could have said he'd already fronted up, done his bit. I'm sure he wanted to. I'm sure he wanted to say at the end of the hour that time was up.
He is keen to appear accommodating and the only way to achieve that is to be accommodating. That said, I have never been so taped in an interview. His media minder taped it; Broad taped it. Not even the PM does that.
But as he is being so open, could I see his secret file on Ian Wishart? "I don't have a file on Mr Wishart." Why not? "I imagine we've got a clippings thing." No, the secret file. "Well, I do actually have secret files, yes, but they're not of that character." What character are they? "Secret character!"
There is a lot riding on how his public campaign goes: his job. And he looks like a man who knows it.
"I hope you can understand that this is really embarrassing," he says, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes. He looks as though he hasn't been getting a lot of sleep. Actually, he says, he has been managing that. "I haven't eaten as much as I am occasionally wont to do." He's been feeling sick in his stomach, which everyone knows is what severe embarrassment does to you.
"Yeah, there's a bit of that. It is quite physiological, this sort of stuff. It's very visceral."
Nobody could fail to notice that he is mortified. And watching a bloke in the grip of it is not the most pleasant experience in the world. I don't know why it didn't occur to me, while preparing the questions, that I was actually going to have to ask them while sitting across a table from the man who is the police commissioner.
It doesn't help that he is wearing his short-sleeved, baby-blue police shirt that - despite the epaulettes with the silver swords and the funny collar tabs he didn't know the name of - makes him look like a benign, round scoutmaster with a fondness for custard squares. (He managed a hollow laugh about the not being able to eat as much as usual.) He is the chief constable, he doesn't think he's obliged to wear the uniform, but he does most days. He must like wearing it then? "Do I like to? I'm a policeman."
John Banks once said he didn't look like a police commissioner, and while neither of us knows quite what a police commissioner is supposed to look like, "John Banks might have a point, you know. There are people who probably look better in uniform than I. But I think it's important".
He has been wearing a uniform since he was 17 and he's 50 now, so you'd think that now he doesn't have to wear one, he might take the chance to wear something else.
What does he think might be the psychological implications for somebody who has worn a uniform all of his adult life? "Ha. Umm. I. Don't. Know. I can't even begin to think! Is there a pass mark for this interview? Because that's a hard question."
It came after the harder questions and, I thought, because he does like a good muse, that he might enjoy it. But I suspect he thought it might be a trick question. And, too, he has spent the week doing what nobody, unless they count seeing a psychiatrist as a leisure activity, much enjoys. He has had to go back over his life, fine-tooth combing his memory for anything he might have done that could reflect badly on him. So he is wary, although making a good try of not letting it show, and weary.
"All of the things that you do in your life, you know you did them, when you were at some other time and place and, accumulated and stuck in as a checklist of your faults [it] is embarrassing. I defy anyone to look at a list of things like that and say, 'I revel in this'."
How peculiar it must be to have to take yourself back to yourself at 23 and re-examine everything you ever did. "And everything in between [then and now.]" Is he clear on it? "No. Because you don't remember everything you did." Is he worried there's more to come? "Umm, there's things that I've done. I've said consistently through this that you're not proud of things that you've said to people that they might pop up and report publicly."
Possibly because he has sat through a week of this, he doesn't appear to think it bordering on surreal that there is a journalist in his office asking the police commissioner if he was a serial groper. Or whether he has ever watched porn. The short answers are "no" and "yes".
We had a long, convoluted conversation around what he calls "your questions which are about nuancing the differences between seriousness or obnoxiousness or badness [and are] really difficult to answer".
I wanted to know the answer to a hypothetical question: If a police commissioner had watched a porn film featuring a chicken (did I say bordering on the surreal?) should he or she resign? "Yeah, probably." Why? "My gut feeling says it's extremely embarrassing. Now that tells me something about it."
Anyone would be embarrassed, and the scale of mortification obviously rises with the importance of the job, but there is also the Presbyterian in him to try to placate. He was raised by Presbyterian parents and although he doesn't go to church much these days he says he still has a "spiritual side to me" which he is more interested in exploring as he gets older. Presbyterians are "fairly conservative, staid sort of people". There is a lot of his upbringing in him. He saves his money and when you ask what he does for fun, he says he reads military history and art history. And "I'm very earnest about the garden". He is a Presbyterian sort of gardener. "I know. So I compost, which is part of being earnest." It sounds like more duty. "It is a bit."
He prays "occasionally". But this week? "Did I? I thought about my parents this week, which is very close to praying. I'm very pleased that I didn't have to explain to my parents the headline in last weekend's paper. Very pleased that I don't have to explain other stuff that is in my background ... drinking."
There is also, he tells me, an accusation that he's a drunk. Well, how much did he drink? Too much? "I probably did. Umm, phew, by whose standards? By my mother's standards I drank hugely too much. By one of my sergeant's standards I was a mere apprentice."
He's not one of those craggy-faced, hard-arsed former detectives you can imagine larking it up with the lads, making rude, un-PC jokes. He's university-educated, one of the breed of coppers who went to varsity and were - and still are in certain police circles - regarded with some suspicion.
He's said he wanted to dispel any idea that he was "holier than thou", which I thought was a strange thing to say but it turns out he was sending a message to his police force.
Because of his academic background (he has a law degree and qualifications in police management) he wanted to make the point that "there was the fact that, just like anyone else, my life is a sequence of things done well and things not done well through to the present day and this is really an expression of that. A really public expression that hurts me, but it may be that I'll be better able to lead the police as a result." And cops, he says, tend to be suspicious of corporate PR.
"So you were just using us to send a message to your troops?" I say, aghast not so much at that, but that he has told me.
"Would you think we would do it any other way?"
That is really very clever, except, perhaps, for the telling. A pass mark? I think that if he wasn't already in the top job he'd get a promotion to police commissioner.