Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Just back from a few days off, having been caught by a speed camera for the second time in six years and the second time in my life.

The first time it happened I was doing 60 in a 30 mph limit – fast enough to face a ban.

I got off with a £400 fine because the magistrates were parents and understood what it must’ve been like to see my 11-year-old’s face crumple as he waited to catch an early morning train for his first lone school trip and realised his overnight bag was still in the living room.

I showed them a letter from the deputy head confirming I’d had 20 minutes to dash back or follow the 6.15 to Fort William, produced a Met report showing how safe the conditions were, photos of the empty road at 6am and even a couple of articles I’d written condemning dangerous driving.

They yawned, signed, winced a little when I addressed them ‘may it please your worships’, told me to ‘please sit down’, and bunged six points on my licence.

The latest flash came as I the M1 in Bedfordshire in a flash new Saab Sport doing a tad over 30 as I slowed into a village. Everyone told me no-one gets done for doing less than 38. The penalty notice arrived two weeks later: I was doing exactly 38. Not 39; not 37. Jesus.

I admitted the offence and didn’t try to blame it one worries about my 11-year-old’s travels.

He’d turned 17 and was in Istanbul with his brother on the week the bombs went off. I did phone the Foreign Office helpline from the car as news came though on the radio.

Please note: it was on a hands-free set.

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