Article originally written for and published on http://www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk
I’m a criminal. A no good criminal. It feels good to get it out there, but the absolution of my sins unfortunately does not end there.
No, like so many of the lawless renegades before me, it was only so long I could continue to flagrantly offend the laws protecting this fine nation before I was brought to swift justice.
On occasion, I have been known to sometimes, perhaps, drive a little bit faster than the highway laws would like. Naturally, I would only do this in emergency situations like trying to get to the old warehouse in time to pay off Russian kidnappers for the safe return of my family, or if the football was about to start. I can already sense the palpable disgust causing your eyes to vomit disgraceful tears of rage and, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.
My punishment? The Drivesafe Speed Awareness Course.
It’s hard to defend breaking speeding offences as the reality of causing someone else to suffer from your own selfishness in trying to get somewhere quicker shouldn’t be belittled.
As we arrived, there was a sign directing me and my fellow motor crooks to sit in a canteen to await the course. People sat in relative silence, exchanging bashful smiles and it regressed me back to school to the feeling of being sat outside the head teacher’s office awaiting punishment.
One thing I immediately noticed was that everyone else seemed to be holding copies of the Highway Code and I had nothing but my iPhone…I really should read letters every once in a while.
Not to worry, off to the classroom we went. “Right, welcome to the Drivesafe Course ladies and gentlemen, you’re going to be with us until 9.30 at which point you will have successfully completed the course.” It was 5.20. That’s four long hours ahead then…
The course was run by two chaps, both who admirably attempted to keep boredom from setting in with interactive questions and no doubt much-repeated gags befitting of a compare at the DVLA Christmas party.
We were taken through the process of different quizzes, educational monologues over a Powerpoint (with snazzy laser pointer), stringently dissecting every facet of safe driving and our lack thereof.
The attention to detail was astounding if not interesting. Much of it was common sense, other parts consisted of painstakingly mundane references to the Good Book (The Highway Code, that is), punctuated by little parables and mantras designed to capture attention and increase the likelihood of retention within our withering brains. Probably worked too.
Throughout all, my impulse to provide sarcastic answers bubbled away inside but with the warning that glib participation would result in being kicked off the course, £120 and 3 points in tow, I only cracked a couple of times.
“Does anyone see any potential dangers in this photograph?”
“Yes that crow looks a bit shifty to me”
“Mark, I’m not going to ask you again.”
“Sorry. Do carry on”
I did start to feel sympathy for both our tutors as we went along. The poor sods having to conduct a four hour lecture to a room of reluctant people about a dreary subject matter. A tough gig.
Nevertheless, I can’t deny that it was a bit of a shock as I realised how feeble my knowledge of basic road principles actually was.
The course itself is actually a good idea, introduced as a buffer of warning to the first time offender to retain a clean licence at the expense of an education in the implications of your indiscretions – the strong olive branch of the law. Seems fair and I’m glad I did it for the points if nothing else.
It’s important, however, to mention that my Grandmother, who I’ll call Mrs X for anonymity purposes, took this course recently due to amusing traffic offences and went on to get a speeding ticket a couple of months after.
Whether or not I’ll slip back into bad habits or give in to a possible innate genetic propensity to be a highway scoundrel will only become apparent through time, Your Honour.