Ho! Ho! Hello! Hello!

Meeting up with my gang for a breakfast get together, driving along minding my own business at 0740 hrs on a Sunday morning way out in the countryside.  I thought that I was approaching a road accident.  There were two police cars and two Bobbies stopping cars travelling in either direction.  As you can imagine that the traffic was very light at that time on a December morning at sparrows fart, in freezing conditions.  I was waved down and guided into a small lay-by; my guilty mind went into overdrive because I was driving with an arm in plaster.

I was also trying to think of all the things that I may have done wrong.  My MOT doesn’t need renewing until the end of next month.  Insurance runs out in March.  I mollycoddle my lovely old Lexus, so much so that even if it is in ‘car years’ nearly as old as me, it still looks new.  Tyre treads, still beefy, the electronics would have warned me of any lights that weren’t working.

Oh Lord! Perhaps it’s nothing to do with me; maybe there is an escaped prisoner on the loose.  No that can’t be it because they closed our local prison yesterday and have moved all the convicts out to other prisons.

You may have gathered that to see one Bobby actually out of his car in our County is as rare as hen’s teeth.  To see two at once falls into the realms of rocking horse manure.  I actually saw a policeman in a helmet walking in the road near where I live, in 2005.  I had a visit from a PCSO, that’s a Blunket’s Bobby, who brought round a crime number three days after my garden shed was broken into.  But these were real policemen in high visibility jackets with belts adorned with handcuffs, nightsticks and about a dozen little leather pouches containing mysterious crime fighting gadgets.

Anyway I brought my initial fears under command and told myself to get my normal smart mouth, which is my default condition, under control.  As my policeman approached I saw that he was removing a contraption from the confines of one of his pouches which as he stooped down to my window I saw was a breathalyser.  I also noticed that he looked between sixteen and eighteen years old,I might have that wrong but but bet he doesn’t need to shave more than twice a week.  He very politely apologised for stopping me but explained that his force was carrying out a purge against drinking and driving especially over Christmas.

I don’t think that he noticed that I had been holding my breath as I tried to quietly exhale.  I smiled, “Of course not officer, I hope that your campaign works”.   He then began a practised routine as though reading from a list; “When did you last have a drink?”  I explained that I drank only very occasionally and it was over a month ago when I had a glass of wine on my son’s birthday.  He then quoted “Have you drank any alcohol or smoked a cigarette in the past ten minutes”.  I remembered my promise to keep my smart mouth under control and repeated that I hardly drank at all and I haven’t smoked for forty years.

He spoke like a robot as he asked if I minded taking a breath test.  “Of course not officer, anything to help keep drunken drivers off the road” while my brain was telling me not to say anything about a police officer only being able to ask for a breath test from a driver whom he suspects might have been driving while under the influence of drink or drugs or having committed a moving traffic offence.  As they often say in The Only Way is Essex – SHUTUP! 

He carried on in his robotic voice explaining how his infernal machine worked and what I needed to do as he took out a piece of white tubing and tore off its cellophane packet.  My brain thought “If he drops that on the ground I shall report him for littering” – SHUTUP!  He fumbled the cellophane into his trouser pocket, attached the tube to his machine and told me to blow until he told me to stop which I just about managed in one breath.  He smiled and said we don’t get many reading Zero and indicated the screen showing 000.  He detached the tube and gave it to me as a souvenier, cheeky beggar, giving me his rubbish to dispose off SHUTUP!

Before my loose lips could betray me, his colleague, who had stopped a car travelling from the opposite direction and had obviously breathalysed the driver, called out to my Bobby “Hey Pete! This one’s positive.”  Before thanking me and sending me on my way so that he could assist with the offending driver, he told me that early morning checks catch more offenders than if they carried out their campaign at closing time.

I drove off after wishing him a very Merry Christmas and then my smart mouth let me down as I added “Make sure that you don’t drink and drive”.  Oh Lord, he’s got my number! But at least I remembered not to wave with my plastered arm.


About Jake

Long retired travel writer, author and freelance journalist. Educated at Wolverton Grammar and Greenwich Naval College. Happily married since 1958, with a married son and daughter, a married granddaughter and an adult grandson. Hobbies rock-climbing, dinghy racing and ocean racing. Still regularly working out in the gym.
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