Sarah Sands: Pedestrians are safe, again. My husband's speed-aware

Share
Related Topics

The middle classes would love to be best friends with the police, and are wounded that the small matter of driving offences comes so often between them. It is not a crime, surely, so much as a misunderstanding. Thus, drivers who are sharp as tacks in their professional lives suffer blackouts of memory over who was driving, and shake their heads in wonder over the photographic evidence.

Mobile phones that we never knew we had are clamped to ears in supernatural acts. We blame speed on pressure from cars behind, or saintly trips to the hospital. A woman driver rebuked last week for not strapping children into their rear seats responded that it was all right because they were not actually her children.

I remember ostentatiously slowing on a Somerset dual carriageway to wave on a police car as it raced to catch criminals. The patrol car slowed too, in a lovely, middle-class "after you" moment of choreography. Shrugging with pure affection, I sped on, only to find my new friends, faces now dark, and blue light on, had been trying to pull me in for speeding. Me! Why would they do that?

But if I merely want to be friends with the police, my husband longs to be their alpha student. While I follow the conventional highway code in sight of speed cameras – screeching to a crawl and then roaring off again – my husband is obedient and censorious. When I see points on my licence as a grievous injustice, he asks sanctimoniously what would have happened if small children had wandered across the road ahead.

So you can imagine the perplexity with which he opened a recent letter. It was a terrible mistake. Surely I must have been driving rather than him – and if he had, indeed, been at the wheel, why had I not alerted him to the marked Transit at the road-side? Surely the police had better things to do than prosecute for five miles over the limit....

Happily, his sunny disposition returned: the kind police were prepared to waive his fine and three points in return for his attendance at a speed- awareness course. It was, in the event, if not the happiest day of his life, up there with the best of them. There'd been a slight, last-minute wobble, when a friend reported that the police on his course in another county had been most unpleasant: "You people are as criminal as the yobs that mug old ladies." But Northamptonshire Constabulary had entrusted the task to a cheerful pair of advanced driving instructors – or, in the police language my husband has insisted on using since, ADIs.

The 25 people on his course – "a lovely lot, from all walks of life" – had reverted obediently to the school room, competing to answer questions, joining in discussions, laughing warmly at the instructors' Jeremy Clarkson jokes. The only frustration had been the man who'd hogged the answers, using his unfair advantage as a former driving instructor.

Now a 30mph fob hangs from the car key. My husband changes into third gear in built-up areas, invites me to read the road ahead, and talks excitedly of the next generation of cameras that will judge us by our average speed. He asks why the media choose not to report the 40 per cent reduction in road deaths achieved by "safety camera partnerships", and says he has given excellent feedback in his appraisal form.

Did he have any recommendations for improving the sessions? Only that they should think about expanding them into residential courses.

Sarah Sands is deputy editor of the London Evening Standard

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company has been manufacturing high quali...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is the fairest onl...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Production Planner is require...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

No more big characters or Tory clowns like Boris Johnson. London desperately needs a boring mayor

Rachel Holdsworth
Cilla Black lived her life in front of the lens, whether on television or her earlier pop career  

Cilla Black death: A sad farewell to the singer who gave us a 'lorra, lorra laughs'

Gerard Gilbert
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen