“Is it a possibility it’s been longer than two or three years since you last read your highway code? What’s the likelihood of things changing guys? Can you see where I’m coming from?”
‘Yesss’ came a distinctly unenthusiastic response from a group of 30 or so slightly bored looking folk.
I was one of those folk, sat in a small room in Leyland on a speed awareness course.
I had, I shamefully admit, been caught driving too fast on the M6 in that mile or so of roadworks before the M55 turn-off (you know, the bit where there’s 4,000 cones and not a single workman).
The temporary speed limit is 50mph. I had been returning from the late shift at work, it was 1am on a Sunday morning and there wasn’t a single car on all four lanes of the motorway. I felt I had been driving very safely and was therefore slightly cheesed off at receiving a letter through the post telling me I had been going 68mph (on an empty four-lane motorway) and was to be fined £100. I told the people on my desk this story as we waited for the man taking the speed awareness course to arrive. They all nodded in agreement and then told me the unfair way they had been caught.
“Bet you’ve spent the last 10 minutes telling each other how unfair it is that you’re here,” said the course leader as he strode into the room.
We looked at each other like schoolchildren caught having a fag behind the bike-sheds.
This was my first speed awareness course. You are given the opportunity to take one if you are travelling at a certain speed over the limit. If you sit it, you don’t get any points on your licence – hence they are popular.
I was quite excited, mainly as aside from the electric chair or watching Eastenders, I like to try anything new. It started very pleasantly. ‘Would you like a cup of coffee?” a kindly looking man in a dark suit said as I arrived and registered. “You may as well, it’s free.”
Well, aside from the fact that I’d paid 100 quid to be on the course, obviously.
We then went to a room reminiscent of my old primary school. All that was missing were children’s drawings on the walls and someone being called to the front to get hit across the hand with a ruler.
The man who took the course was nice enough, though he did have a slightly annoying habit of making you respond to what he was saying.
Sample speech: “So all we’re going to do is give you a little bit of information that will refresh one or two memories. And if you leave this room at the end of the session knowing a little more is that good news?”
So, feeling about aged seven and expecting to get a gold star at any moment, we all had to reply: ‘Yesss.’
It wasn’t the most fascinating of courses, and I’d be lying if I said the four-hours didn’t drag (indeed three of the seven people on my table nodded off), but I must admit I felt that it had been useful and worthwhile.
I now know, for instance, three important things – unless otherwise stated any road with lamp-posts on is a 30mph speed limit; a blue circular sign with a number on it indicates minimum speed limit; and a cappuccino from a machine tastes absolutely horrible, even if it is free.
The highlight of the course was provided by an elderly chap next to me, who said only one thing during the entire four hours.
His comment came after the course-leader asked, ‘Now if you were driving in a busy town centre, at around 5pm, and you came to a stop at the traffic lights, what sort of things would you be looking for?’
The elderly chap replied: “A good fish and chip shop”.
Never have truer words been spoken.
Why I’ve eased up on using my nasal trimmer
GPs don’t look like GPs these days.
When I was a youngster, the doctors at my local surgery were elderly males, dressed in white coats and wearing stethoscopes they never used around their necks.
Nowadays GPs are in their 20s and appear to have been told there is no longer a dress-code. The doctor I saw the other day, for instance, wore a mini-skirt. Don’t get me wrong he was a nice fella, but I’m just not sure it’s appropriate.
I was at the docs because for the previous fortnight there has been blood on my tissue every time I have blown my nose.
As usual I went on the internet and Googled it. This was a mistake. I learned that at worst I had a week to live, at best I might just see who wins the FA Cup in May.
So I rushed to the doctors, but he was nonplussed and told me to give it another week, and to come back if it didn’t clear up. Then a few days later, with the problem still occurring, the cause of it suddenly dawned on me.
At Christmas, Mrs Canavan bought me a nasal hair-trimmer (she’s always been one for romantic gifts). Not an expert at using a nasal hair-trimmer - I mean I didn’t have a single lesson about it at school - I realised I had obviously been shoving it too far up and cutting the inside of my nose.
Lo and behold, since I’ve stopped using it so vigorously, the bleeding issue has cleared up.
To an NHS stretched to breaking point I can only apologise, though on the upside I have a lovely hair-free nose.