What are they on about?

26th January 2001 at 00:00
David Newnham has a run-in with the law - sort of

"Tossers like you make me sick. Look at you, listening to Radio 3 in your mincing little Metro, while I stand at this roundabout, directing traffic in the rain. And do you even indicate to let me know which way you're going? Oh no. That would be far too much trouble, wouldn't it?

"What do you think I am? A bleedin' mind-reader? I'll tell you what I am. I'm tired and I'm cold, and I'm not even supposed to be on duty. My neck's giving me gyp, my wife's been driving me mental, and all I needed tonight was a quiet pint at the rugby club.

"Instead I get a phone call. An artic's jack-knifed, traffic division's five men down, so it's on your bike. Well, one bit of lip from you sunshine, and I'll have you. Go on. Make my day or piss off home."

At this precise moment, I have the urge to drive full circle round the roundabout, catch the policeman unawares and shunt him and his all-bleeping, all-flashing motorbike into the ditch. But in my mind's eye I am already reading a newspaper report of my trial.

"Tone of voce nearly cost popular father-of-two his life," says the headline. "Jail for maniac enraged by Highway Code advice."

Highway Code advice? Perhaps I should mention at this stage that the policeman didn't actually use the words that I attribute to him above.

As I edged towards the roundabout, window down, indicator off (I was, after all, expecting to be redirected) he simply asked me which way I was heading.

He wasn't exactly chatty, like he wanted us to become close friends. But nor was he rude. "Where are you going, sir?" were his actual words. And I told him I was turning right.

At that, he waved me on. But just as I released the clutch, he added a near-fatal postscript: "And use your indicators, please. That's what they're there for!" Well I ask you. Was that or was that not sarcasm well beyond the call of duty? Maybe it doesn't look so bad written down, and I'm sure it would sound like a helpful tip read out by a barrister in court.

But I was there, and I stand by the above translation. Although it may just be that I need another holiday.

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