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This is a question I should have been arrested

Faced with The Law when I and a bunch of equally idiotic mates set off a load of loud explosions down the local chalk pit, we blamed bigger boys who had run off. Tell us of the times when you got away with something naughty and slightly out of order.

Thanks to MatJ for the suggestion

(, Thu 26 Jan 2012, 13:36)
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R. Jimlad and the Dangerously Inept and Eerily Decrepit Speedsters.
Get yourself a cuppa, it's a long 'un.

I attended a Speed Awareness course today. For those not familiar with the concept; when you get caught speeding by “a little bit”, you get the offer to attend one of these courses rather than pay a £60 fine and get three points on your licence. The course itself costs £85. So you’re basically paying an EXTRA £25 to avoid the points. You also have to sacrifice four hours to attend said course.

Until I was going on one I didn’t know anything about them. Until I mentioned I was going on one, I didn’t know anyone who’d been on one. But as soon as I did mention it people started emerging, blinking from the shadows saying they’d been on one too. As though the mention had jogged a memory of something they’d tried to blank out. Reports were mixed. Some felt patronised or that they’d had their time wasted. Others lauded them, praising content and delivery. So, to clear up for those still ponderous; here’s the full exposé.

You’re told to turn up 15 minutes beforehand or face possible forfeiture of the course. Not attending (or failing to complete) the course leaves the police with two options. By accepting the course you’ve rescinded the offer of a fixed penalty notice; that deal’s no longer on the table amigo. It’s re-booking the course or standing in front of a magistrate – and it’s not your decision which. It’s the cops’. It’s no surprise, then, that everyone’s there on time. What *is* surprising is the people on these courses. I was expecting boy racers and white-van men. What I got was Dad’s Army. I was the youngest. By some distance. The closest in age to me was a woman I’d put at about 50. More on her later.

So there are 24 of us sat around in the reception area of the Holiday Inn waiting for the course to start. Everyone’s chatting away in the way the elderly do – y’know, everything’s gone to shit and things were much better when we had the Germans bombing us. Me, I’m in a corner buried in my phone. I am not being part of Walmington-On-Sea’s finest till I absolutely have to. I’ve already made the decision to sit at the back, keep my head down and just hope I don’t get asked a question.

At 2pm on the dot a rotund camp man who introduces himself as Graham ushers us into a conference room. Graham could also be part of the home guard. The seating arrangements are dismaying. There will be no ‘hiding at the back’. The chairs are assembled in a ‘U’shape with a white board and projector screen at the open end. Great. After introducing himself and running through the health and safety rigmarole Graham (who has that annoying “I’m not your instructor, I’m your pal!” demeanour) lays out the course content and makes it absolutely clear we have to stay till the very end to complete the course. And that the very end will be at least four hours away.

He then gets us to introduce ourselves one by one. “Hello, I’m Mark. I drive a 2008 Fiat Punto, mainly for social and commuting use, I do about 8000 miles a year and was caught doing 38mph in a 30 zone. The reason I’m here today is that I didn’t want 3 points on my licence.” Now, everyone else in the group had given a clearly made-up reason. “I’m here to learn”; “I’m here to improve myself”. I was the only one being honest.

Graham didn’t like this.

“Oh my! Mark!” He makes an exaggerated head-shaking gesture. Then, trying to chivvy me along, “That’s not the attitude is it Marky? Do you mind me calling you Marky?”

(Cute girls can call me Marky. Friends can call me Marky. Relatives too. But not fat camp men in their 50’s that I’ve only just met.)

“I’d prefer Mark.”

He pulls an exaggerated sad face. “We’ll soon get you on the right track.”

Graham is not my pal. Graham is a dick.

The only other person of note, at this stage at least, is the lady I mentioned earlier. It turns out her name is Posh Elaine and she’s from Underhill. Or as she pronounced it Unnndahhh-hiiil. Like she was Michael Bolton serenading a lady. She got caught speeding in a courtesy car after her Mercedes convertible was crushed by a falling tree. Whilst parked outside her daughter’s ballet school. Four days after she bought it. You’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?

And so we begin. And it’s pretty much what I expected. Long, drawn-out examples of why speeding’s bad, the damage it can cause, what causes people to speed and what can be done to prevent it. After about an hour Graham announces we’re going to watch a short video. A man to my right (Arthur) immediately puts his hand up. “Can I sit nearer the front please? My eyes aren’t what they were”. “Mine neither” another adds (Ted).

Graham gazes around looking for volunteers to move. No-one is. A lady, whose name I didn’t catch, is also saying she won’t be able to see if she’s not at the front. Before I know it the three of them are stood up and having a competition to see who has the worst eyesight by gradually walking to the front and saying “Nope, here’s no good”, “Closer still I think”.

I seem to be the only one thinking “HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE ALLOWED TO DRIVE!?” I am RP McMurphy and the cuckoos have taken over the nest.

After much rearrangement of chairs the video finally starts. Graham urging us to note down any potential hazards as a car-mounted camera makes its way around town. “Remember, any thing that could distract you is a potential hazard.” are his last words before the projector kicks into life.

Once done, he asks me what I’d observed. “Uh, residential area so possibly kids or other pedestrians around. Road was wet. Oncoming traffic. Cars parked at the side of the road could be hiding junctions.”

“Excellent Marky!” (Graham really is a dick) “Anyone else?”

“Animals”, pipes up a man who’s been silent till now.

“Yes. Good! Like cats and dogs running out you mean?”

“Well no, I meant from the trees you can see. Squirrels and that.”

“Oh don’t mention trees dear, we’ve got far too bloody many in Underhill (Unnndahhh-hiiil)”

Everyone laughs. Save for me. I want to die.

“Ok, here’s one for you then”, Graham addresses the group, “Do you get to where you’re going to more quickly if you drive faster? Hmm?”

Silence. It’s like he’d asked them to remember whether they’d left the oven on.

I can’t stand awkward silences.

“Well, yeah. Of course you do.”


“Uhhhh. What? How?”

“Well what makes you think you’d get there quicker? Hmm?”

“The laws of Physics, basically.”

“Ah, Marky. But do the laws of Physics allow for roundabouts? Stopping at traffic lights or dense urban gridlock?”

At this point I just want to punch him. Or myself. Just so I don’t have to listen anymore.

And so it goes on. One man putting on a show, twenty three being hypnotised and me, wanting to chew my own face off.

Other highlights:

“What are some of the signs that we’re driving to fast?”
“My wife normally shouts at me” (completely deadpan and bereft of humour – I nearly pissed myself)

“What causes the most accidents?”

(Ted) “The bloody government!”

“....Ummm. Ok. How?”

“I once fitted out a fleet of cars for the police and was going to make them four-star (petrol) runnable. But the government said they had to be two-star so they’d be cheaper. But two-star petrol ignites and burns at a much lower temperature than four-star. Firebombs on wheels I tell you.”

“Right. When was this, Ted?”


Finally, we’re all handed a different picture depicting a road-scene and given 5 minutes to identify all potential hazards and highlight the most dangerous. It’s 5.55pm and I’ve been here precisely 3 hours 55 minutes longer than I’d ever want to be again. When it’s your turn, you’re picture is projected on to the screen for all to see while you run through the hazards.

I’m last.

“Right, well. Woman walking her dog on the pavement could lose control at any point. Blind corner up ahead and the sun is very low in the sky so visibility is reduced. Parked cars also blocking vision on the left.”

“Good! Biggest hazard?”

“Well Graham, the frost on the car windows and lack of leaves on the trees suggest it’s wintry. And with it being wintry it could also be quite blustery”


“So if it’s blustery, whoever it is who’s parked their car alongside those frail looking trees is just asking for them to fall down”

He managed a chuckle, but I know he hates me. As does Posh Elaine from Unnndahhh-hiiil.

As a course, it’s torture. As a deterrent to speeding... Well I never want to go through that again.
(, Sat 28 Jan 2012, 14:24, 21 replies)
*Click for you* - I got caught doing 81mph in a 70 zone a couple of years back
I saw the camera from a while back and thought I knew how much my speedometer over read and what the threshold for being prosecuted was. I was sooo very nearly right but still wrong enough. So I just paid the £60 and took the three points. It sounds like I made the correct decision!
(, Sat 28 Jan 2012, 15:46, closed)
Given the choice again I'd also take the points!
(, Sat 28 Jan 2012, 16:35, closed)
Not like the one I attended then.
Here in Cambs they charge you an extra £5 over the ticket. The very first thing they show is a minor road through a village.
"Here's where the car struck the kid"

Pan 50 yards up the road

"Here's where they found the shoes."

50 yards more: "Here's where they found the head".

It took 90 minutes. There were 11 deaths in total. Not one occurred more than 10 mph over the local limit.

(, Sat 28 Jan 2012, 22:04, closed)
How long ago was that?
If you don't me asking. I was under the impression they were run by a national company.
(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 3:23, closed)
tl; you are dull.

(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 2:17, closed)
Words are hard work, aren't they?
(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 3:18, closed)
I liked it.
Reminded me of Chuck Palahniuk's 'Fight Club'.
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 13:26, closed)
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 14:44, closed)
Not a problem
Just saying what I think :)
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 21:35, closed)
I did one in Lincolnshire
It was taken by two coppers and the first thing they said was how stupid we'd all been to not spot the speed camera signs and get caught.

That'll be seven years ago and that's the one sentence that's stuck - if you see the camera signs, watch your speed.
(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 16:36, closed)
Big click for you.

(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 17:03, closed)
Most kind
(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 17:19, closed)
I should probably be arrested for this.
I shared my mother's car for a while and got caught doing 33 in a 30 zone. Because it was a notice in the post job, and I was due to be insuring a new car very soon (in my early twenties at the time too), dear old mum agreed to take the hit for me. The offer of the course came through and she went. Said it was a nice afternoon out and yesy informative. That was the woman who already stayed under 50 on motorways...
(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 22:14, closed)
That is quite legendary maternal coverage. Good on her.
(, Sun 29 Jan 2012, 23:27, closed)
Staying under 50 on the motorway?
That's really fucking stupid.
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 16:42, closed)
click from me
I was caught speeding and even though it was only 9 Mph over the limit I was not offered the chance to go on one of the courses, this post makes me glad that I didn't have the chance.
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 11:41, closed)
I'm not sure what
the exact criteria for being offered the course is but I was 8mph over so you must have missed by the skin of your teeth.
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 14:46, closed)
Well no click from me
Not up to your usual standard, and too many typos for a Walmington-on-Sea resident such as I. Sounds like you got off very lightly indeed! I've been on training courses worse than this and I didn't do anything wrong!

Time to MTFU and get on with your life. And no - you aren't a brilliant driver because you can spot potential hazards, you're a poor driver for knowing they are there and still speeding.
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 15:19, closed)
Does someone need a hug?

(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 16:41, closed)
Oh blimey...

This is excellent. I will ensure to stay the exact speed limit on my way home tonight as I DO NOT want to go through that.

As for tomorrow though...I promise nothing.
(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 16:01, closed)
Ta very much.

(, Mon 30 Jan 2012, 16:41, closed)

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