Travel: Competition - Literally Lost: 34

This excerpt has been taken from a work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place? b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will supply pounds 30 of book tokens each week to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, Travel Desk "Independent on Sunday", 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by Thursday.

About five miles back I had a brush with the CHP. Not stopped or pulled over: nothing routine. I always drive properly. A bit fast, perhaps, but always with consummate skill and a natural feel for the road that even cops recognise. No cop was ever born who isn't a sucker for a finely-executed high speed Controlled Drift all the way around one of those clover-leaf freeway interchanges.

Few people understand the psychology of dealing with a highway traffic cop. Your normal speeder will panic and immediately pull over to the side when he sees the big red light behind him ... and then he will start apologising, begging for mercy.

This is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cop-heart. The thing to do - when you're running along about a hundred or so and you suddenly find a red-flashing CHP-tracker on your trail - what you want to do then is accelerate. Never pull over with the first siren-howl. Mash it down and make the bastard chase you at speeds up to 120 all the way to the next exit. He will follow. But he won't know what to make of your blinker signal that says you're about to turn right.

This is to let him know you're looking for a proper place to pull off and talk... keep signalling and hope for an off-ramp, one of those uphill side-loops with a sign saying "Max Speed 25" ... and the trick, at this point, is to suddenly leave the freeway and take him into the chute at no less than a hundred miles an hour.

He will lock his brakes about the same time you lock yours, but it will take him a moment to realise that he's about to make a 180-degree turn at this speed... but you will be ready for it, braced for the Gs and the fast heel-toe work, and with any luck at all you will have come to a complete stop off the road at the top of the turn and be standing beside your automobile by the time he catches up.

He will not be reasonable at first... but no matter. Let him calm down. He will want the first word. Let him have it. His brain will be in a turmoil: he may begin jabbering, or even pull his gun. Let him unwind; keep smiling. The idea is to show him that you were always in total control of yourself and your vehicle - while he lost control of everything.

It helps to have a police/press badge in your wallet when he calms down enough to ask for your license. I had one of these - but I also had a can of Budweiser in my hand. Until that moment, I was unaware that I was holding it. I had felt totally on top of the situation... but when I looked down and saw that little red/silver evidence-bomb in my hand, I knew I was f-----...

Literally Lost 33

The extract came from Douglas Norman's 'Old Calabria'. The action took place in Italy. The winner was Sarah Thomson of London.

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