Once upon a time, in the 90’s, I had a proper job. I was employed to install, configure and train users on an advanced telecom system, a job I always enjoyed and that involved a lot of travel. My chariot of choice was a Volvo 960 Estate. This one had a straight 6 petrol engine of 3.0L and was purchased for for £5000 with 45,000 miles on the clock. It was a superb car, roomy, automatic, comfortable and very well equipped for the day; it even had climate control instead of just air con, usually found on only the top end of the market. I kept it for about 18 months and sold it for £3500 with 120,000 miles. In all that time apart from routine servicing, the only fault was a broken headlight bulb. A testament to how good Volvos used to be.
One time I was doing some training for a large company in Swindon, and unusually I was accompanied by another trainer, a very pretty and sparkly Irish lady by the name of Grainne. We finished fairly early in the afternoon and we both had to be back at our head office in Uxbridge, I just had to drop of some equipment and then turn left to head up north and home. Grainne said that she wasn’t sure of the correct turn off from the M4 for Uxbridge and I said that she could follow me, however I had to finish off a couple of jobs so I would catch her up on the M4 and then I would lead the way.
I set off around 10 minutes after Grainne and with some prodigious use of the right pedal I soon came up behind her on a quiet, lightly trafficked M4. She was driving along at around 60mph in the middle lane, very few other cars around. I pulled in behind her and flashed my lights. No response. I flashed again, slightly closer and for longer. No response. I pulled alongside, blew the horn repeatedly and waved madly across the carriageway. No response. Grainne just blithely sailed on, looking straight ahead, seemingly unaware of anything around her. I dropped back and blew the horn and flashed the lights again. No response. I pulled in front, put the hazard warning lights on, flashed my brake lights (whilst trying to maintain a safe distance) and waved through the rear window. I then pulled to the left, slowed a little to allow her to draw alongside, and repeated the horn and mad waving. No response. The woman was in a trance.
Bollox! Find your own way to Uxbridge! I set off away from her at some lick and soon she was not even a speck in the rear view mirror. The motorway was quiet and the Volvo was pushing along at around a ton, I would soon be at Uxbridge and then the long journey home.
When I saw him I think it was already too late. In the distance on one of those ‘Police’ mounds there was a traffic cop in a jam sandwich and he was leaning out the window and pointing a speed detector at me. He turned to the front and set off at speed down from the mound to join the carriageway just as I was approaching. If I’d had my wits about me I could have slammed on the brakes, pulled in to the hard shoulder and left him to travel up the motorway, but as I’ve never had any wits anywhere near my person I slowed down to the legal limit passed him further down the road and he then pulled in behind me and gave me the full blaze of blue.
Whilst the policeman was dressing me down and writing up a ticket, I glanced up and saw Grainne passing by, in the middle lane, staring straight ahead and utterly uninterested in the blue flashing lights on the hard shoulder. I never saw her again, and I never found out if she had made it to Uxbridge.