I am at the front door collecting the post when I see a letter I was in no way expecting.
It is marked WEST MERCIA POLICE.
Oh my God. What has my wife done this time? But as I read it, I realise that it is me the police are pursuing!
Two days before, at 17:14, on the A4103 in Leigh Sinton, it is alleged that I committed a road traffic offence contrary to sections 84 and 89(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
This is an outrage! I was 12 in 1988! I didn’t sign up to that! I will fight this! Hang on, what did I actually do? The speed: 36mph.
No! I was going 36mph in a 30 zone. That’s six miles an hour over the limit. I kick myself. Speeding is wrong, clearly. I try never to do it. I abhor those who do it with casual abandon. It’s stupid and dangerous. But I’ve had a clean licence for more than 20 years. Surely this is just a warning?
“The alleged offence carries a maximum fine of £1,000 and a driving licence endorsement of 3-6 penalty points.”
Well, make your mind up. Is it an endorsement or a penalty? Because if it’s a choice, I’m happy for you to endorse my driving.
“Or disqualification at the discretion of the courts.”
Disqualified? From driving? Or is “disqualification at the discretion of the courts” code for the death penalty?
I think back. I had no idea I was ever in Leigh Sinton. I think I went to school with a Leigh Sinton. I’m sure I’d remember if I was in Leigh Sinton. I’d definitely remember if I was in that Leigh Sinton.
I drove to Wales and back the other day. For work, not for fun. But maybe Leigh Sinton is on the way? I quickly Google it, and yes. There it is. Half an hour past North Piddle.
Well, it’s a fair cop, West Mercia Police. But there are plenty of reasons not to fine me. I mean… I didn’t know the road! And I didn’t see the signs! The road was clear! I have a clean licence! It’s my first offence! The camera might be faulty!
I turn the page to see a section marked Reasons Not Accepted.
I did not know the road. I did not see the signs. The road was clear. I have a clean licence. It is my first offence. The camera may be faulty.
They think of everything, those West Mercian gits.
Furious at myself for bringing this shame upon my family – a criminal record! – I Google Leigh Sinton Speed Camera to see if it rings any bells.
I find an article in the Kidderminster Shuttle, which is not a newspaper I ever knew existed before. The first line of the article is:
“DID YOU SEE WHO SET FIRE TO A SPEED CAMERA IN LEIGH SINTON?”
What are you accusing me of now? And ‘did you see?’. Unless whoever it was did it very quickly, I suspect the speed camera did.
“POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR ANYONE WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THE FIRE WHICH TOOK PLACE ON BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY.”
Someone called Flomay has left a comment underneath, saying “Maybe they’re waiting to see what develops!”, which is a good joke, but then they spoil it by writing LOL at the end, which lends it a somewhat lonely edge.
Still – I am not the only person to suspect that this camera in Leigh Sinton might be there more as punishment than prevention. In fact, on further investigation, I find the same thing happened to the same speed camera in November 2007. If someone’s set fire to you twice in eight years, it’s time to start asking yourself some serious questions about your behaviour.
So I have been through Anger. I have been through Denial. All that is to come is Acceptance.
Sighing, I look at the options. I can hire a slow-talking Southern lawyer to paint the court a verbal picture and make everyone realise we all make mistakes sometimes. I can put three points on my hitherto unblemished licence and give them £100 for the trouble of typing that into a computer. Or… I can undertake a four-hour Safety Awareness Course, which will also cost £100 but leave me points-free.
I suppose some of you would say I’ve always been a bit pointless LOL. But four hours? In a classroom? With a man continually telling me I was six miles over the limit and then showing me how to slow down a bit so that I am no longer six miles over the limit?
I think about the pride I have in my untarnished licence.
I book it in, then immediately look up sections 84 and 89(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, and begin learning them, word for word.
This will be the last time the West Mercia Police trifle with me.
Why would you want to know what you’re eating?
When Weelin Lim went to Istanbul, it was basically so he could visit the ‘World Famous Pudding Shop’ they have there. Turns out they do three puddings. And they’re not very specific puddings, either. Just sort of… kind of puddings.
We don’t need roads…
I was on the Isle Of Wight the other day, and expected to get there by ferry or hovercraft, like when I was a kid. Well, I’ll tell you what: the world moves fast these days.