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Coronavirus threat brings huge change for Paul

In normal times, Paul Sieloff would be on the streets of l=London as a PCSO with the Metropolitan Police. But when you have a serious health condition, these are not definitely not normal times . . .

I am a key worker, a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) with the Met Police, but as I have a blood and bone marrow cancer I am shielding for 12 weeks and working from home.    

If I were at work, I would be carrying out foot and mobile patrols. Crime on my ward is well down except for domestic violence, which is well up - as, according to the national news, it is all over the country. I have a police tablet and can deal with anything that could be dealt with by email.

Of course, the number of calls to police regarding people breaking the lockdown and social distancing are coming thick and fast and make up more than 85 per cent of all calls, so I would be dealing with these. 

Long term, my job will be perfectly safe and as far as both social and working life go, I do not see any change

Due to my father's job in the Royal Army Pay Corps we moved around a lot, and I attended no less than eight schools, the last in Germany.  I left school at 16 in 1974, and having taken the army selection test and scoring the highest ever result for anybody taking it at a school in Germany, joined the Army Catering Corps as an apprentice chef.

I served firstly at the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital in Woolwich - many of the nurses I knew are still involved in nursing with the NHS. My last posting was the chef for the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace, St. James Place, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London, which I was to return to as deputy head of external security 12 years later.

I left the army in 1985 and after some time in security then as a manager for Laura Ashley, whilst travelling home on the underground in 2003, every advert on one of the escalators was for PCSO. I applied and in May 2004 started training, and have been in the role ever since.

It was while working for Laura Ashley in 1992 that, on a quiet day, I filled out a ‘can you do this faster than…’ quiz, working out the value of the fruit in the 4x4 square. I sent it off, and by return got the offer of the Mensa home test which I took and scored 148 with the offer of the supervised test.  I took that at Birkbeck, University of London. I remember walking back to the tube station with someone else and feeling mentally exhausted, saying "well that’s £25 a year I’ll be saving as there is no way I have passed that." A couple of weeks later I got the letter saying I had an IQ of 155!

At the time I was living in Cockfosters. I did not attend many local meetings but went to the AG in Birmingham in 1993. Shortly after I moved down to Folkestone, I was still working for Laura Ashley in their Maidstone branch and went to the Wine and Wisdom monthly event there.

Laura Ashley were going through a bad time and closing some branches so I moved back to Cockfosters with my retired parents and, after a couple of years, started going to the quiz at the Griffin Pub, then in 2018 moved to my current address in Dunstable.