This was the incredulous question posed, to me, the other night by a real policeman. The main reason for his incredulity had been my brazen running of a red light that he had stopped at. I’ve always thought that if you’re going to break the law, then it must be done with a certain style. And self referential panache normally sits well with a belly full of lager which, obviously, I’d consumed during the previous four hours.
What started as a brief after work drink inexorably finished as a train wreck. So impressed was I with the new smoke free pubs, that I had a number of additional drinks to celebrate. On sober reflection, probably not the greatest idea for a man about to play with 25 minutes of dangerous traffic.
Due to my level of social confusion and enveloped in the happy fug of the properly trolleyed, I never even saw the red light. Or the police van. I was barely aware of the claxon call of the siren and associated flashing lights until Mr. Plod barked out his understandable question. The rest of the conversation went something like this:
Him: “Didn’t you notice the big white van with Police written all down the side”
Him: “And the red light, did that register at all?”
Him: “Do you have any reason or excuse why you did that”
Me: [thinks, comes up blank]: “Er, No”
Him: “Have you been drinking this evening sir”
Me: “Oh yes”
Him: “Were you aware that their is a law against being drunk in charge of a bicycle”
Me: “Well, currently, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m in charge of it. Rather the other way round”
Him: “I should give you a ticket for both offences”
Me: “Yep, you probably should”
He rants some more, asks me where I’m going, I reply to the best of my dribbling ability. He decides to let me off. In pity,I think.
Him: “I suggest you use the cycle paths and ride slowly to the station sir. I don’t want to be fetching you off the tarmac”
Me: “Thanks alot. It’s not true what they say about the police is it?”
Him: [narrows eyes]: “What would THAT be Sir?”
Me: [oops]: “Oh nothing, finer bunch of fellows you couldn’t hope to find, I’ll be off then, ok?”
I did feel like an idiot tho and more so when I sobered up. The decision not to share with him that I had to ride 6 – mostly lightless – miles home at the far end of the train ride was probably the right one. This part of the journey was spent mostly either musing how I’d manged to lose both my decent rear light AND my lock on a four mile wobble through town or – blinded by oncoming headlights – in a verge.
Last weekend, I nearly committed to paper hard and fast resolutions about not running red lights anymore (and I’m really only an occasional transgressor (careful how you spell that) now), not getting wound up by cycle hating motorists, not getting involved in pointless altercations, etc, etc.
This morning when a white van carelessly swung across my nose without so much as the whiff of an indication, I couldn’t but help ask if he’d always had a small willy or it’d be hacked off in a nasty industrial accident.
Resolutions you see, not worth the paper they’re not written on.