14 Nov 2004

I was pulled over by the police last night at about eleven o’clock. I had shut up the video shop at 9pm, met my uncle who was dropping off my car and then drove 15 metres down to the Carriers pub in it as it was raining and I am an apathetic git. In the warm and bustle of the pub I met Jack and some other friends. Jack, being of the nature of a Lincolnshire farmer, had donned his Wellington boots and tramped the five miles from Widemouth Bay to Bude, having decided that in such atrocious weather the only option was to get in it. However, some sliver of sense still remained as he had asked me to pick him up on my way home. Once sat at a table in the pub and having demanded a pint from Jack, the thrifty one, I decided that enough was enough and that the mild binges of the recent days left me no option other than to finish this pint and then head home for an early and sober night. My lager slipped down my gullet with practised ease and I sat tapping my fingers against the empty glass in what I hoped was an irritating way. Jack didn’t seem overly annoyed as he took an age to finish his Guinness. I was keen to depart. Jack finally consented to my yawns and whimpers and downed the remnants of the black stuff. He placed the glass onto the table and then, inevitably, as we stood to leave Daniella asked, “You two want another?” Jack looked at me with a hint of optimism playing across what I’m sure he thought was a purely innocent countenance. “Oh bollocks,” I sighed and asked Daniella if she would wait for just a moment. We sat down and I dug a coin out from my pocket and told Jack that ‘Heads we have another. Tails and we skiddadle.’ I threw the coin in the air but it did not flip and I caught it and threw it again, still managing not to flip it, and caught it again and threw it and flipped it and then missed it and dropped it. Jack peered between the stools.

“Tails on the floor. Means it would have been heads once you flipped it over in your hand,” he reported.

“No. Cocked throw. I’ll do it again.” and I did. Tails. Jack and I quickly said in unison, ”Best of three.” I then proceeded to throw a couple of Heads and Daniella left for the bar. The second pint followed the first down to join in the party that was swilling about my empty stomach. No food, little sleep and a high latent alcohol level in my blood stream meant that I was feeling quite drunk very quickly. Which meant that Jack didn’t even have to suggest that we stay for a third as I starting tossing the coin as soon as my glass suggested the possibility that it may be more empty than full. Two Tails in a row meant that I had to confuse the issue with quick and fantastical logic in order that Tails became Heads and vice versa and “I’ll get ‘em in mate.” As I drained my third pint I reached for the coin. I had managed to develop a thirst for more lager, lots more lager, fuck it, I’ll sleep in tomorrow and turn up late for work and get totally trashed tonight and no I’m not concerned that I’m driving and if I’m too wasted to drive we’ll be stuck in Bude but that doesn’t matter really because when you’re properly wasted you can walk back from Bude to Widemouth, no worries, and I don’t care that I don’t have a jacket because it is raining but I’m going to be pissed and it will probably even be fun, definitely more fun then going home now and without another pint for an earlier start tomorrow and a productive day. Jack shook his head. “Oh bollocks. C’mon then, I’ll get the car.”

Daniella left with us and we said goodbye at my car. Jack then asked me if I would be up for giving Daniella a lift home on our way despite the fact it was in the opposite direction and I was knackerred and more than just a little wobbly. Of course I said “No worries,” because, at the end of the day, I had none. Driving on three pints is illegal and something I have hardly ever done. Normally I’ve had at least eight. Whoa! I know what you’re thinking up there in your righteous cerebrums but I have oodles of scientific fact that provides conclusive proof that I am a better driver when pissed. Seriously. I can play a computer game for the whole day, stuck on the one race track which I simply cannot master, leave in frustrated defiance for an alcoholic evening out, return six hours later and decidedly cross-eyed and then complete the very same level first time and then sit there and scratch my head as I was wonder what the fuss was all about. That and the fact that the only crashes that I have had occurred when I have been sober. Maybe when I am pissed my awareness of the need for concentration is heightened. When I’m sober, I rest on my laurels. Anyway, whatever Ghandi.

We drive down towards Flexbury, turn right at the Methodist church and I reach into the door pocket and grab some gum. As we reach the turn for Daniella to alight from the car, another vehicle comes around the corner and my whole body stiffens imperceptibly as I clock the light array on its roof. “It’s the police.” said Jack. Yes, indeed, it is the police. Thank you Jack. The squad car passes by and I don’t look at the driver, instead I indicate in a very textbook fashion, turn and stop and Daniella bounces out of the car with a shout of ,”Thanks you guys. See you Friday.” and dances up her garden path. The mild shot of cold panic to the gut from the sudden appearance of the fuzz has abated as I finish my eight-point turn and then speed back the way I had come in a very legal manner. As we approach the next turning I recognise the boot of the Ford Focus squad car waiting for another car to pass before it turns out onto the main road. I think I am being very smart when I start indicating very early during my approach to the same T-junction and am secretly overjoyed to see the police car turn the opposite way. As I accelerate up the road between the golf course I can see Jack relax slightly and my shoulders drop in concurrence. I check my rear-view mirror to be certain that the squad car is almost out of sight and just as its rear disappears around a corner I suddenly see more red lights flash on, and then just a hint of white light reflecting off the boot of parked car as the squad car disappears.

I think,‘Red lights then white light? I did definitely see that didn’t I? Fuck. That can only mean the utter bastard has stopped and then reversed in order to chase up the hill after me. Hang on though, I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m innocent, for kerist’s sake! Shit, maybe the fact that I indicated about twenty seconds too early signaled a high level of anxiety to the bobby. Fuck! I’m drunk. If he pulls me I’m going to get breathalysed and then my life will take an alternative path, to put it mildly. Please don’t be in my rear-view mirror when I look. Ahhh.’

“Jack mate, the police car has turned around.”

The headlights approaching from behind are gaining on me at a rather alarming rate, especially if they belong to the fuzz, as such would indicate their highly eager intention to have a word with me, a word that I do not want to hear. There is no escaping them though and as I round the corner by the golf club the rear-view mirror is lit-up by the sparkling blue flashes of my impending doom. My stomach and heart and lower intestine all drop, loosen and convulse simultaneously. All I manage to say is ,”Shit. I’m fucked.” I pull over immediately, turn the ignition off and then the CD player, which is blaring out “Freedom got an AK.” and nod to Jack who is sitting very still indeed in his passenger seat and exit from the car. I have no real chance of escaping from this with a clean license and no ban. As I wait for the police officer, one I do not recognise, to alight from his parked car I cling fervently to the smallest of saving graces, my clean and minty chewing gum breath. Hang on though, who the fuck am I kidding? Bruce has fucked up and is about to get fucked. As the shaven-headed bobby walks towards me talking into the mic attached to his shoulder and carrying an ominous looking black plastic clipboard, all I can think of is the extreme injustice of my present and probable plight. Of all the times when I have been full to the gills with a huge plethora of intoxicants, now, when I have had but three measly pints, I am going to come a cropper. I suppose it was quite a just injustice really. The bobby opened his mouth and I tried to stop my knees from knocking.

“Good evening sir,” he said in a very non-committal way as he eyed up his potential serial killer suspect.

I replied with,“Hello officer.” very keenly aware that I should impart as little information as possible as, other than potentially stitching myself up, this would involve speaking and speaking would mean that my lager tinged breath would escape from my mouth and wash over the police officer’s head. Plod walked past me and circled my car.

“This your vehicle sir?

“Yes it is.” Plod bent at the knee to look at the license plate. I still had no real idea why the bastard had pulled me over and subjected me to massive heart flutters. I was about to add in a helpful manner ,’I don’t have my documents with me but they are at home.’ before I chastised myself. Tell the bastards nuffin! Plod stood up and came towards me.

“Can I ask, sir, what you were doing down in Flexbury?”

“I was dropping off a friend.”

“Oh really? Who was that then?”

“Her name is Danielle. I’m afraid I don’t know her surname.”

“Where did you come from?”

Don’t mention the pub, don’t mention the pub. “Oh, from the video shop.”

“Who’s this in the car then?”

“That’s Jack. He’s my housemate.”

“Really? Right.” Plod seemed satisfied. I was still shitting it though as I had a sense that this interchange was just the preliminary rounds of inquiry during which, I’m sure, some percentage of suspects picked up their heels and headed for the hills leaving a wake of guilt. Such a thought had crossed my mind but I squashed it with the boot of rationality and squared my mental shoulders for the next round. Plod went to the rear of the car, bent down again and had a look at my exhaust pipe. It had to be the exhaust pipe as there was nothing else there of interest. He stood up again quickly, picked his nose in a surreptitious manner and turned back to me with a very small bogey attached to the tip of it. This did not help me keep calm. He has a bogey on his nose! Does he know he has a bogey on his nose? Does he know I know he has a bogey on his nose? Is this a test? Should I tell him or try to ignore it?

“Do you smoke sir?” he asked.

Nothing wrong with smoking so tell the truth. You have a bogey….no! “Occasionally.”

“Have you been smoking this evening?”

Erm, that’s still legal isn’t it? “Yes.” Bogey, bogey, bogey!

Then suddenly I remembered the two times in my past that I had been breathalysed and before both the plods had asked me if I had been smoking as, apparently, recent smoking can offset the results. Oh shit, thought I, this is it. He’s about to pull out that little plastic bag and ask me to blow. Fuckitty-fuck-fuck.

Then Plod changed his tract again. “I didn’t think the video shop was open this late.”

“Oh, it is on Sundays. I had to stay behind and compile the accounts.”

“Oh, you work there, do you sir?”

“Yes.”

“Do you smoke marijuana sir?

This bastard thinks I’m stoned! Brilliant. I am so not stoned! Without a flicker. “No officer. I used to years ago but I stopped all that.” And managed to stop myself before I informed him that all I do nowadays is drink and heavily at times.

“Who owns the video shop? Is that Simon?”

Simon? Who the fucks is Simon? “I don’t know a Simon, officer.” Then it came to me. I must blind him with coherent thought and speech so to dispel any suspicions of being stoned. “Paul Coyle owns the shop, officer, Gary Salmon is the shop manager and I work there on the odd day. Gary’s Dad is a special constable by the way,” I added in for good measure.

“Is it that blue one on Queen’s street?”

Ah. “No, that is the games shop.”

There was more talk and exchanges of irrelevant information such as my name and address and shoe size. My knees had stopped their knocking and I felt assured and on firm ground as I spewed the patter that the copper needed to hear. At no point did he inquire into the discrepancy of time between me leaving the video shop and me dropping Danielle off. Two hours passed him by. He wrapped things up with an explanation that everybody was a stoner and that he often took potluck in pulling people over. By this point I was his mate and a firm supporter of such tactics. He nodded and said ,”Goodnight then sir.”

I returned the greeting and opened my car door and slid into the seat. Jack and I both stared straight ahead and said nothing as I put the key into the ignition, nice and slowly now, not too fast, and started the car. All I had to do was pull away from the kerb and into the night without stalling/failing to indicate/crashing and we were home free. This, I’m glad to report, I managed. As we made our safe and speed legal way back home Jack opened his mouth. “You, Bruce, are a player.” I thanked him, although at that moment I was still coming down from the adrenalin high I had been surfing ever since I saw the flashing lights. The intervening time had blurred for me and I write it down here as best as I can remember.

The good news is that, if you listen to the propounders of probability, I shan’t be pulled over for the next six years.

Comments:
Hooray for close calls
 
:( Where ARE you?!
 
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