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 have our different memories. Mine is 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 have filled in the grave and sung our songs of Zion, I head home for hot tea and toast. Now that we have delivered the cargo, I am glad not to have to follow on behind those limousines of death, moving with ceremonial slowness.

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

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

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

The course takes place in a hotel in central London. There are two trainers and twenty speeders. We sit around some tables and are encouraged to talk to each other. Once we have shared our stories, given our excuses, sullenness turned to curiosity.

‘What are the reasons that you speed?’ asked one of the trainers.

‘You’re driving the getaway car?’ said one of the speeders.

The trainer is in no mood for banter. ‘There’s no getting away, If you’re not caught this time, you’ll be caught next time. You’ll to face the music in the end.’

With my new-found speed awareness I come home and make myself a cucumber juice. I let the flavours really talk it out. I sit there in the kitchen as the light falls and I think of Richard. I just feel sadness. Maybe that’s what I was trying to escape.