Since accumulating 9 penalty points, Norma has been very worried about the possible consequences of my irresponsible actions and dangerous driving. A driving ban would have severe, wide reaching consequences for my glamorous job in IT consultancy, affect our busy social life not to mention the logistics of ferrying the kids to all their hobbies.
After lodging an appeal with Surrey Traffic Police, I gleefully accepted a place on a half-day ‘Speed Awareness Workshop’. Attendance at the workshop cost £95 but was in lieu of the proposed 3 point penalty so was well worth the money. Plus the instructor was an attractive lady. After registration, coffee and friendly introductions, we all swapped amusing anecdotes of our various speeding offences, recounted hard luck stories and were tested on stopping distances in the rain.
After lunch (lovely sandwiches and volavons), we all looked at some horrific photographs of mangled car wreckage, listened to victims of car accidents and, worse of all, watched the instructor viscously smash a peach on the table with a claw hammer.
As I wiped peach juice off my face, I cunningly positioned myself next to the instructor for the grand finale which was an evangelical type experience where we all hugged each other and proclaimed in a single, united and very loud voice: ‘In the name of the Father, the Son and Surrey Traffic Police we hereby pledge, that we will never exceed the speed limit ever again’.
The only problem was that the roads were really empty on my route back home and the weather conditions were dry with excellent visibility. I was a little late for my evening meal (Chicken Kiev on Tuesday night), Manchester United were playing live on TV and so I promptly picked up another £60 fine and the very 3 penalty points, I had spent the afternoon avoiding.
Norma was not pleased. Since then, I have been accompanied on every single trip by a new backseat driver. A voice from the passenger seat who keeps piping up:
‘Speed camera, 500 yards. Limit - 40 miles per hour’
‘Yes, yes OK, I know this road and I am doing 42 mph and they never do you for that.’
‘Speed camera. Limit - 40 miles per hour. Reduce speed.’
‘All right. All right. Just shut up will you ? I am down to 39.5 mph now.’
When the danger has passed, the backseat driver gives a distinctive 3 toned whistle and is silent until she spots the next possible hazard. Once again, my irritating back seat driver pipes up in that dull, monotone voice
‘Possible mobile camera site ahead. Limit - 50 miles per hour.’
We all frantically scan the landscape for police hiding in the bushes wielding a hand held radar gun and wait for the triumphant 3 tone whistle that means ‘OK - put your foot down.’
Sometimes I am sorely tempted to go for a crafty drive on my own without my back seat driver in attendance.
Sometimes, I am tempted to ask the back seat driver to shut up and just let me drive.
Sometimes, I am tempted to silence the back seat driver by cutting her communcation cord.
Sometimes, I am tempted to grab the back seat driver by the neck and shove her back in the glove box.
But I can’t because the back seat driver is my friend.