And now for something completely different-
I was in court today, for speeding. Apparently, I drove past a speed trap van doing 35mph. Allegedly.
I had ignored the offer of a speed awareness ritual humiliation course. And the reminders. And the subsequent repeated offers to pay a fixed penalty. They couldn’t believe I would be so stupid as to contest it in court, when they had a signed confession that I was the driver. Or did they?
If you don’t admit being the driver, and don’t drop the actual driver in it, you get done for refusing to name the driver. Equal penalty and points.
I had given them what they thought was an admission of guilt, with the protestation that I was only doing 25mph. They saw what they expected to see. A confession. No need to charge me with failing to name the driver.
So there I am in court. Bang to rights, but looking disturbingly cocky.
They’d assumed I was gonna quibble with the calibration certificate, (What else could it be?) so to be on the safe side they didn’t give me a copy in advance. The judge asks if I had seen it, I say no. The Prosecutor gives me a copy, and I ask him loudly why I hadn’t been given it before. He ignores me, so I repeat it, more aggressively. He stares, in disbelief at my impudence. (He wonders, “Who does this tosser think he is?”) The judge says, with clear irritation, “Well you’ve got it now.”
The cop recites his prepared nonsense in evidence. Do I have any questions? No.
The prosecutor reads out the statement of the Central ticket Office Jobsworth, several pages of standard guff about how they don’t make mistakes, plus the crucial fact of receiving my signed confession. I read through my copy as he speaks, and correct him loudly when he makes a couple of mistakes. Everybody ignores me. They don’t even tell me to shut up.
It’s my turn to give evidence. I read out my prepared statement, loud, clear, and emphatic. They look increasingly puzzled. “What the hell is he rambling about?”
“On Monday the 25th of June, I received a letter dated 19th June, incorrectly addressed, which said that I had not replied to a form regarding my van breaking the speed limit six weeks previously on the 14th of May.
I replied, saying that I had not received the form, and giving my correct address, the address I have always given to the Central Ticket Office in considerable correspondence regarding 28 parking tickets which I have successfully contested over the years.
I also explained that I could not remember who had been driving, and asked for the photograph.
My reply was posted, by recorded delivery, on Tuesday the 26th of June.
The next day, Wednesday the 27th of June, I passed the speed trap van in XXXXXX, in its usual position. In the circumstances, I took careful note of my speed. It was 25mph.
Two days later, Friday the 29th of June, I received a form which appeared to claim that I had been driving at 35mph on the 27th of June. I knew that it was 25mph, and I filled in the form, saying so.
A few days later, I received a photograph of the 14th of May incident, showing the back of the van. I wrote a letter explaining that the driver could have been one of three named people, including myself.
I posted the letter which referred to possible drivers for the 14th of May allegation, along with the completed form confirming that I had been the driver on 27th of June doing 25mph. These were sent in one envelope by recorded delivery on the 11th of July.
I subsequently received various offers of speed awareness courses and fixed penalties. I ignored these, as they all required me to confirm being the driver on the 14th of May.
I don’t believe that I was the driver on the 14th of May. I am not a fast driver, and I am always very careful of the speed trap in XXXXXX.
Nobody has contacted the other two possible drivers I had named.
I now realise that I had misread the form which I filled in stating that I was the driver. I took the date of sending the form as being the date of the alleged offence. I admitted to being the driver on 27th of June, because I was. However, the allegation referred to the 14th of May.
It seems that the Central Ticket Office have equally misread that same form, because they claim that I have admitted being the driver on the 14th of May. It is clear that I made no such admission.
I do not believe that I was the driver on the 14th of May. There were three possible drivers. I am a careful and slow driver, and I am well aware of the speed trap in XXXXXX. The other two possible drivers have not been contacted, and 8 months have now passed since the event.”
The judge looks at the Prosecutor, who is now fumbling through his bits of paper.
“Do you not have an admission of guilt?”
“Er, I, well, it’s er,”
“I’ll retire for a few minutes.”
“Do you have any evidence?”
“Case dismissed. Thank you Mr Zaphod.”
The thing is, instead of signing the part labelled, “I was the driver”, I scribbled in the “Any other excuse” bit. “I was the driver in XXXXXX at XXpm on (wrong date) but I was only doing 25mph.” Oops.
I’ve had a few victories before, but never one where I could enjoy the preceding process so much; given that I knew I could not lose. Especially as the Babylon was equally sure that I couldn’t win.
Forgive me for gloating, but it was better than sex! No, seriously!