Speed Awareness Training

A few weeks ago we buried Richard. We loved Richard. The church service lasted nearly two hours as people stood up and shared their stories of a man who had come to Britain from Montserrat in the 1950s and had made London his home.

Of course we all had our different memories. Mine was of his cucumber juice: “you can make it quick or you can make it sweet” he would tell me, knowing my tendency to rush. I didn’t care to allow the flavours “to talk to each other” as he insisted that I should: “Take it easy, Vic, you have to give them time to converse.”

A cemetery is a cold place to be in November, conversing or not conversing. So after we had filled in the grave and sung our songs of Zion, I headed home for hot tea and toast. Now that we had delivered the cargo, I was glad not to have to follow on behind those limousines of death, moving with ceremonial slowness.

My SatNav predicted congestion on the Lea Bridge Road so I looped round onto the A12 and then up through Homerton. By taking this alternative route, though longer, I was able to save four whole minutes. I was quite pleased with myself.

A few days later, however, I received a letter from the Metropolitan Police giving me the good news and the bad news.

The bad news was that I had been flashed doing 29 in a 20 mph zone and that they intended to prosecute. The good news was that I could avoid prosecution by taking a Speed Awareness Course.

The course took place last Friday in a hotel in central London. There were two trainers and twenty speeders. We sat around some tables and were encouraged to talk to each other. Once we had shared our stories, given our excuses, sullenness turned to curiosity and we began to learn something.

What are the reasons that you speed? asked one of the trainers. He made a list: Not Giving ourselves Enough Time. Passenger Pressure. Not Knowing the Speed Limit.

“But what about when all the other cars are driving at that speed?” asked one of the speeders.

“We call that Going with the Flow,” he said and put it on the list. He’d heard it all before.

With my new-found speed awareness I came home and made myself a cucumber juice. I let the flavours really talk it out. I sat there in the kitchen as the light fell and I thought of Richard. I just felt sadness. Maybe that’s what I was trying to escape.