Guilty as charged! I was doing 34mph in a 30mph restricted area through a Bedfordshire village (population 34) in a queue of cars. I was late for my lunch and I was hungry. Judging by the look of joy on the face of the policeman holding the camera the Police bank balance would be bulging. The documentation arrived and I wondered whether to go straight to Alcatraz. It was a lawyer’s paradise. The culminating wording, printed in blood (sorry, bold) said: “We have photographic evidence.”
Driver Awareness Course
Then I read some of the small print. I was within a speed tolerance which entitled me to opt for a Driver Awareness Course thereby avoiding the points on my licence (subject to about 23 conditions). I booked online and paid my fee.
It was held at a golf club. The boss was an ex-police officer together with his assistant who squeaked and handed out pieces of paper. His opening remarks were reassuring.
“The course is four hours. If you fail to stay to the end you’ll be fined £1,000 and the original offence will be recorded against you.” The assistant emitted an extra loud squeak and I decided to stay to the end.
The rumpus came out of the blue (i.e. sudden, rather than involving the police). Two of the thirty people in the room started shouting at each other. It was terrific entertainment. He said: “You should be banned from ever driving.” She replied: “You couldn’t keep to a speed limit even if you were sober which you never are.” I wondered if they knew each other.
PC Plod intervened. The two aggressors were husband and wife and each had been found guilty of a speeding offence and each decided to book on a Driver Awareness Course without telling the other. They proceeded to bait each other for the whole course. I think the wife won on points scoring well with, “the only reverse you know is our bank balance.”
A rousing squeaking sound indicated it was time for lesson one. The paper given to me had on it, ‘Lesson One’ followed by 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Boss man PC Plod told us to list the five most annoying driver habits on the road today. We had ten minutes to complete the task. I was done in two minutes. Easy-peasy, so I thought.
I think it was a plant but PC Plod picked on me and asked for my first criminal dislike. I was incredibly even-handed and fair.
“Bloody (there were ladies present: the mix was 60/40 men to women) Polish HGV drivers who can’t read the speed warning signs and don’t care.”
Anticipating the ‘best attendee of the night’ award I stood up to soak up the adulation. One member approached me. He was about six feet six, Polish and he did speak rather good English. He explained what he would be doing to me afterwards. I told him it was just an attempt at misguided humour wherein PC Plod gave me a final warning.
But worse was to follow. An elderly man offered “Country Women who drive horse-boxes selfishly.” I agreed (silently). Two country women in tweed jacket and trousers went to war. Squeaky managed a state of apoplexy.
Milton Keynes Welcomes Careful Drivers
The exercises in the damage that speeding can achieve were sobering. The half time coffee and biscuits were awful. The course dragged on and finally, thirty minutes early, PC Plod gave up.
As I drove away at 29mph I realised that the two cars in front of me were being driven by the warring couple. They were shouting across at each other through their open driver’s windows. When he smashed into the masonry at the entrance to the golf club she drove away with a look of total satisfaction.
The sign at the side of the road said ‘Milton Keynes welcomes careful drivers’.
“That’s me,” I crowed.
Until the next time I am hungry.