apparently a traffic offence

Who’d have thought it? But that’s the point I suppose. That this last week would have a strong element of ‘I didn’t see that coming’. True I knew that last Friday night I would be appearing in my first gig with my new jazz group and I knew this would be stressful – and it was, but I didn’t expect, on the same day, to set the world land speed record for a journey of 75 miles up the M1 from the Heanor house to our Leeds residence. Four hours, as you ask. I meant the slowest ever journey we’ve made between the two properties. The surprising aspects of this last week were definitely motor related.

For example, I did not anticipate finding out on Tuesday that I had been driving an uninsured van around since the end of August. This being the date when the insurance company, who we thought had insured the van, told us they wouldn’t insure us seemingly because of a claim I’d made a year and three months ago in our Defender. Who’d have thought it? Turns out they had sent me two emails informing me of this withdrawal but the email said, please read the attachment, but the attachment file said ‘your insurance documents’, so I thought that will be the documents and I don’t need to read those, just page after page of dull stuff. So didn’t open the attachments.

Admittedly they sent us a letter saying the same thing but Mrs Summerhouse thought this was also the insurance documents so she didn’t open it. Hey ho. And there it lay with us until we got a letter informing us that whoever (some government department?) wouldn’t tax the van because it wasn’t insured. Don’t be ridiculous we thought, we insured it in August. And then it all unravelled. Call this unexpected or call it stupid on our parts or maybe just the kind of thing that two oldish people do when they get oldish.

By the time we spoke to the insurance company and spent half an hour answering all the questions they already had answers to, it turned out – unexpectedly – that our premium had increased from £400 to £1150. This for one tiny collision 15 months ago in another vehicle entirely, which, they said, had changed my no-claims bonus from 9 years to 4 years on another vehicle. Now that was a surprise and quite an unreasonable one I thought. I set my son-in-law on sorting it out, which he did, I think, although they keep sending me emails so who knows.

Mrs Summerhouse had a motor-related surprise but this time a relatively pleasant one. On Saturday she had to attend her naughty girl course for driving through a red light. It was unexpected because, as she pointed out to me, every other ‘person’ drives through red lights without penalty. Or so it seemed to her. She felt better after listening to the reasons the others on her tabIe ‘got done’.

One woman was ‘done’ for eating a crisp (as above, although not the actual crisp as obviously that had been eaten). The policeman said she was using her mobile phone but, as she pointed out, her phone was in her bag at the back and he could check, so he agreed to just ‘do’ her for eating a crisp. The other, a truck driver, was done because the back of his (long) truck had not cleared the junction when the lights turned to red. Another because her front wheels were over the white line at the lights. But apparently she was bonkers anyway so nobody was very sympathetic to her. I was partially sympathetic to Mrs SH even though this was her second time on such a course, the last one for speeding. And the surprise was that this time the people who actually ran the course were quite pleasant, unlike the last time when they were positively unpleasant. She had been prepared to be humiliated again, but no.

So, when I picked her up, she wasn’t too pissed off. But I took her for a drink anyway, well a man’s got to do etc. We found a pub that allowed dogs in and Millie thanked them by being sick all over their floor. Now that was unexpected, she’s never done that before. The manager took it well and all the little children were entertained. Asking their mummies and daddies what did that doggie do? Mrs Summerhouse did her best to explain that the doggie had been sick and no, she didn’t think she would do it again. Sorry, fun though it had been for all concerned. But yes, definitely a surprise.

Anyway as regards the re-education course a spate of texts was set in motion with Mrs Summerhouse telling her 3 sisters what she was doing that day. She supposed that nobody else in the family had similarly sinned, appropriate terms for a good Catholic family. One sister admitted that she had attended a ‘speed awareness’ course and confessed (on their behalf) that their two brothers had also. They wondered who would be the biggest sinner in the family. The eldest sister did not reply, no surprise there, she had always been the goody goody in the family.

But then, after a period of silence, the second youngest took to the airwaves and frankly blew the whole competition out of the water. Hit it out of the park you might say.  I’ll quote her text verbatim lest you think I might embellish. It read – I got done for using mobile phone. Going through a red light, Speeding twice and writing off five cars since living in Devon (don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning as to location). PS. I also smashed the back of Ric’s (her partner at time, now sadly deceased) Land Rover, caved in a wheel arch and demolished a wall reversing backwards.

I also remember her driving from our house to hers (a journey from Leeds to Devon) with a rattle on account of a wheel not properly attached. It didn’t fall off, much to her garage’s amazement when she took it in to have the source of the noise identified, but she didn’t even mention this). So knowing Mrs SH’s sister I am bound to say that all this was no surprise at all. I would imagine that traffic regulations are quite different on Mars from where I believe she was teleported. Something to do with a thinner atmosphere – probably.

So some retired people find their retirement quite boring I believe, they bemoan the predictability of their lives well let me just caution you, be careful when you wish for more excitement because you might get sent a week like our last one.


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