Paul Savage

Comedian, host, cartoonist, astronaut, occasional liar

Archive: Mar 2011: The need for Speed Awareness

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I once did an assessment and got 20 out of a possible 20 for Activator (person who just says “screw it, let’s do it”) and 0 out of a possible 20 for Reflector (“person who thinks back a lot”, rather than “person who repels light”). So, don’t expect any deep insights into me.

Don’t think having all activator and no reflection makes me fun and spontaneous. I still know what consequences are. Which was why it was so galling to be caught speeding, doing 37 in a 30 zone coming back from Stafford. Especially as that road is in places 40. I have no idea where they caught me along that road but I bet I thought I was doing under the speed limit. I don’t speed anywhere at the moment. I completely changed my driving habits when petrol first topped £1 a litre (£1 a litre! I’d kill for £1 a litre) around when I first started gigging. I have often annoyed my brother on long drives by driving at 70 in the slow lane and then overtaking people as and when, and gearing down rather than braking to conserve fuel and not cause a braking wave. You know, the actual way you’re supposed to drive.

So it was paticularly galling to do a speed awareness course. I had to: the two options were spend £60 and get 3 points on my license on a fine, or have the fine and the points wiped out. Wow, you’ll wipe out the fine and let me off the points, you are so kind! and what do I have to do? do a course with some other speeders, and all it’ll cost me is… £60. you’ve not wiped out the fine, you’ve moved it. Dicks.

Because a while ago, everyone decided they needed conference space for things, and that essentially all a conference space is a selection of uncomfortable chairs near a projector with space for a tea urn, conference spaces spring up in the unlikeliest of places. This was at a wildlife centre in Staffordshire. No really, it was. I was early and spent 25 minutes listening to fake piped in noises of animals, like lions and monkeys that I am sure are too big, too exotic, and too used to a warm climate to be pissing around in scrubby bit of greenbelt outside Tamworth.

I’d got in the previous night at 3 in the morning after a marathon Wolverhampton- Shrewsbury- Aberyswth-Shrewsbury- Sutton Coldfield- Wolverhampton trip. I’d been gigging in Aberyswth and driving the very talented young comedians Phil Pagett and Alexander Bennett there and then to their respective homes. If that car had gone off the road the west midlands comedy scene might have suffered a bit. Alexander had said that he didn’t like to be called “Alex”, and he can’t be called “Xander” because I would have to beat him to death on principle. Me and Phil decided he was now called “Lexi Bent”, as that seemed to annoy him.

So, I had had about 4 hours sleep before I went to this speed awareness course. One of the problems with being self employed is you know exactly what you did to earn that money, and what you’ll have to do to earn it again. It had been quite a fallow week and so I was watching the profits from a week’s worth of gigging be burnt in front of my eyes. I was not in a good mood.

So, when the woman running the course bustled in (actually, not bustled. Bustled implies a warmth and certain weight and jollity. this woman was a praying mantis whose lips had those cracks from smoking too much) and said in a strident Greater Manchester accent “are we all happy people, I only want to deal with happy people” in a bloody patronising voice, I nearly lost it. When I do youth work, I treat young children as close to adults. It hurts to be an adult treated as a child, especially when you combine it with it costing you money and a lie in.

Ever watch a TV show or a character act or a sketch and there’s a couple of bits that seem alright but you go “This hasn’t been written enough. it doesn’t seem real”? And so you end up hating it? Well this woman was a poorly drawn character. It was almost as if she was a terrible Catherine Tate character, but for 4 hours, and costing me £60.

She said at the start “If I could have £60 and a promise to never speed again who would take it?” My hand shot up. Sadly, that was a rhetorical question to prove a point and I had to sit for another 4 hours whilst being told that a thing I don’t do is bad and I shouldn’t do the thing I don’t do, because otherwise if i did do the thing I don’t do bad things could happen.

I did learn a couple of things. Because apparently everyone other than me is an idiot, you aren’t allowed (by law) to put up 30 signs in a 30 zone. your clue to the speed limit being 30 is that you can’t see a 30 sign, because if it were 20 or 40 there would be a sign. also, the 70 sign (white with a black stripe) can also mean 60 or 50. Why? Really, why? life is confusing enough. If you are in charge of a ton and a half of solid metal, it’s probably best to concentrate on steering that rather than working out if the road has street lights, a central reservation and lots of other factors to tell you what speed to drive at, when you could just make the number on the sign match the number on your speedometer.

Best bit, was they asked us in turn why we were speeding. Some people used my excuse, that they thought they were doing the right speed. It got round the group to this tiny, frail old lady.

Speed awareness lady: “why were you speeding?”

Frail old lady “You know how you know the roads near your house really well…”

S.A.L: “yes..”

F.O.L: “and you know how there’s one long straight road near your house you know really well indeed..”

S.A.L: “…yes…”

F.O.L: Well, I fucking ragged it down there didn’t i?

It was worth £60 for that bit.

 

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