Post 44 Doctors in trouble with the police


I had just taken delivery of a Triumph TR 2 Sportscar. It wasn’t new, of course, but it had still cost me the best part of a year’s salary.  Low, sleek, and streamlined, in British
racing green, with wire wheels, it was my pride and joy.   Whenever off duty, I spent my time waxing the bodywork, polishing the chrome and tinkering under the bonnet. Nothing was more enjoyable on a warm summer’s evening than speeding along some quiet country road, the hood down, enjoying the admiring glances of folk as I raced along.

Bill Smith, a pal of mine who worked at the eye hospital, was just one of the many friends and colleagues who liked to be taken for a spin in the car, and I delighted in obliging them. On this particular Saturday, we were bowling along in the early evening sunshine on the A5 between Lake Bala and Bangor in North Wales. This mountain road with its hill climbs and tight bends could have been designed for the TR 2. It
offered every opportunity to demonstrate the car’s agility, acceleration, and road-holding ability. Feeling elated, smiles on our faces, the wind in our hair, we gobbled up the miles, the twin-carburettor, four-cylinder engine, tuned to 90 bhp, purring along beautifully; and the coil-springed suspension giving us the smoothest of rides.

‘How fast will she go?’ Bill asked.

‘The top speed recorded for the TR2 is over 120 mph,’ I said, ‘but that’s for the souped-up version; the ones they use in the RAC rallies. The TR2 has won that event more than once you know. This is the roadster model - top speed, 107 mph.’

‘Well, go on then,’ he replied.

 I needed no further encouragement! On the next straight stretch, I pressed the accelerator pedal hard to the floor. I felt the G force, the seat pressing into my back as the car rocketed forward.  The speedometer registered 70, then 80 mph.   With the roar of the engine, the squeal from the tyres as we took a slight bend and the countryside whizzing past, it was exhilarating stuff.   As we reached 90 mph, I was suddenly aware of a motorcycle on our tail.   My heart sank it was a police bike! Gently I applied the Lockheed drum brakes  and slowed the car. The police bike overtook us and then indicated that we should stop.

I pulled into the next lay-by, and the policeman parked some 20 yards in front of us.
Slowly he got off his bike, kicked down the stand, and turned to face us. For a moment, he just stood there looking at us, his hands on his hips.  Slowly, almost casually, he raised his goggles, leaving them resting on his forehead. Then very deliberately, finger by finger, he removed one gauntlet, followed by the second, before positioning them carefully on the seat of his bike. In a leisurely fashion, he took off his helmet and tucked it under his arm. We were guilty. We knew it, he knew it, and he was going to take pleasure in putting us in the book! There was a malevolent gleam in his eye and the suggestion of a smile on his face, as he walked slowly towards us.

‘We’re in trouble now,’ I said.

‘Maybe not,’ Bill whispered. ‘Just let me do the talking.’

He stopped a couple of yards short of the bonnet, pausing before reaching into his jacket pocket and producing a small notebook. He caught my eye and smiled malignantly, enjoying my discomfort, before slipping his hand into a second pocket and pulling out a pencil. He licked its tip and then carefully recorded our registration number.

Reaching the driver’s door, the policeman cast his eye along the length of the car, noting its smooth lines and beautifully polished paintwork. If his own car is a rusty, old banger, I thought, he’ll be particularly vindictive.

Then he spoke, his voice cold and sarcastic. ‘Don’t tell me - let me guess. Your house is on fire, and you’re racing home to save it.’

‘No, Officer,’ I muttered.

 ‘Well, perhaps you’ve just heard that your wife is in labour and you are rushing to the maternity unit.’

‘No, Officer.’

 ‘In that case, do please tell me why you were driving at 90 mph. You do know what the speed limit is, I suppose?’ 

‘Yes, Officer, 60mph.’

‘You were doing 90; that’s 30 mph over the limit.’  His voice hardened.  ‘I’m going to throw the book at you. You won’t be driving this fancy car of yours for many years to come. By the time I’ve finished with you, your driving license will be suspended, you’ll get a hefty fine, and with any luck, you’ll receive a good long prison sentence as well.’

Then Bill spoke for the first time. ‘Do let me explain, Officer. I realise we were over the speed limit, and I apologise for that, but please don’t blame my driver. You see, I work at the eye hospital in Wrexham; look, I have my identification badge here.’

He dived into his pocket and presented the policeman with his hospital badge inscribed with his photo, his name, and department.

‘I work as part of the corneal transplant service.  There was a death at the Wrexham’s Maelor Hospital this morning, and I’m delivering an eye that is required in Bangor. I’m sure you’ll understand that if the transplant is to be successful, speed is of the essence.  Look, I have it here.’

He unzipped his bag and produced a sealed glass tube the size of a small jamjar. It containing clear liquid and floating in the fluid was an eye.

 As Bill lifted it up to show the policeman, the eye floated around the jar in a disconcerting fashion.

‘As I said, Officer, time is of the greatest importance, so I would be obliged if we could get on our way.’

The policeman’s reaction was at first shock, and then dismay that he wouldn’t have the pleasure of booking us for speeding, but the last thing he wanted on his conscience was responsibility for a failed transplant. He looked again at the eye, which seemed to stare back at him in a baleful fashion.

‘OK, right,’ he stuttered. ‘Perhaps you would like me to escort you to Bangor to save you any further hold-ups.’

‘That’s very thoughtful of you, Officer,’ Bill replied, as cool as you like, ‘but that won’t be necessary, the roads are quiet at the moment, but as I say, we really mustn’t delay any longer.’

The policeman returned to his bike, and I started the engine and pulled back onto the road. As we continued on our way, I asked Bill if it really was a human eye.

‘No, of course not! It’s a sheep’s eye.  I got it from the butcher. It’s pickled in formalin. This is the second time it’s helped to avoid a speeding ticket.’

‘That policeman looked ever so disappointed that he couldn’t book us,’ I commented.

‘Yes,’ Bill replied. ‘But it serves him right for being so officious and telling lies. He was right out of order; there’s no way you can be sent to prison for speeding.’

‘No,’ I replied, ‘but they can for perverting the course of justice!’

                                                                                       ( Based on a story by Dr W Smith )

Thought for the day

I wonder if there are enough traffic cones for every student to have one in their bedroom.                                                                                      Arthur Smith 1954 -

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