As I get older, my driving gets slower; some of this is because my route to the supermarket takes me past a speed camera, and, when going in the opposite direction, past a regular hiding place for a mobile speedtrap van. I know I'm a pootler, and I do try not to be too annoying about it, but I'm careful about speed and fuel consumption, and with a cycling son, extra alert for bikes.
So I was surprised and peeved when an unpleasantly-worded letter arrived recently from Northumbria Police, informing me that I had been driving at
The letter is clearly composed to head off the angry and argumentative (not me; I'm all too quick to put my hand up to an offence, even if I am later reminded that I was an innocent passenger). Every line of feeble defence is countered in advance.
I was tickled to read that if I remained unconvinced of my guilt, I could view my offence online, where the filmed record of my transgression would be available to me. (I would love love love to know how many people log in to do just that. I bet they heckle their computer disbelievingly as they watch.)
But I responded to the threatening, accept-no-arguments letter, admitting meekly that yes, I was that driver, speeding along an empty road between sea and fields, dog in the back of the car, making nose marks on the windows. Serves me right; I have little or no sympathy with anyone ignoring the speed limit - but I just didn't think it would be me.
Another letter arrived; penalty time. I could choose between a £60 fine and three points on my licence, or I could take the Speed Awareness Course.
Which costs £84.
The key benefits of choosing this option are listed, including the opportunity to discuss my driving beliefs. Hmmmm....I've been very thoughtful since the leaflet arrived, examining those driving beliefs. Perhaps they've been entirely misguided, self-deluding. Maybe I'm really a middle-aged speedster, a ruthless road hog, a reckless jumper of lights, engine-revving screecher of tyres, doing 0-60 in a nano-second, yet all the time believing that I am a sedate and steady driver.
Maybe those nose marks on the windows are not a sign of Flossie's placid gazing at the scenery, but an urge to hang her tongue excitedly out of the window and whoop "Faster, faster!"
But I prefer to think I was just careless; I chose the fine and the penalty points. My driving beliefs may have to go unchallenged for now. I shall just pootle more carefully.
PS: I sound terribly conceited in this post; really, I would never pretend to be a good driver, just - or so I thought - a speed-aware one.....