Go to jail. Almost

Well, this is typical. I’ve not even left the country yet and I’ve had my first brush with the law. Yesterday I drove all the way from Bradford to Johnstone. This morning I drove from there to Perth. In total about 350 miles, give or take.

There’s a big roundabout at the end of the A9 at Perth. On it was set a white Volvo. With blue flashy lights. Containing three burly men in yellow relfective jackets who decided they wanted to pull me over and talk to me. It seems my van looked rather overloaded. Perhaps they thought I had £50million stashed in the back and had driven up from Kent. I don’t know.

They asked where I was going. “About half a mile that way,” I pointed. So, sensible as our lovely police force are, they drove me 3 miles to the local weighbridge at 60mph along a dual carriageway and around 2 more roundabouts. This as an alternative to 1/6 the distance at 1/2 the speed in a predominantly straight line.

In fairness, they were right – the van was slightly overloaded. By half a ton. That’s a UK ton, by the way. I know those American ones are different, in case any foreign readers get confused.

I pleaded ignorance. My mother will tell you that I am, indeed, very ignorant. I have almost made it my life’s missions to raise ignorance to an artform. I haven’t managed, but I don’t care. That’s how ignorant I am.

The thing is, I could judge the attitude of the people in the office I ended up in. The two police officers were scuffing their feet and looking almost bored, like they knew they had better things to do. On the other hand, the VOSA guy was somewhat smug in a “we’ve caught you, you ‘orrible little man” kind of way.

The conversation went something like this:

VOSA: What’s your permanent address?
Me: I don’t have one. That’s why I have just about everything I own in that van.
VOSA: So where were you heading?
Me: My parents’. They’re storing all my stuff for me while I go abroad.
VOSA: When are you going?
Me: Two weeks. I fly out on the 14th of March.
VOSA: And when are you coming back?
Me: *shrug* I don’t know. I’ve got a one-way ticket to Thailand and no real plans after that.

At that point, the police started talking to each other. I overheard “waste of time”, “pointless” and “not worth the effort”. The VOSA man started to look a little perturbed. He looked at the police and they simply told him it simply wasn’t worth their time to pursue it.

As I was leaving the country indefinitely and so soon, they were a bit stymied. It takes 4 weeks to generate the paperwork. In the case of a foreign national in a similar position, they would place them in custody until a rush job could be done on the paperwork and for the sake of a co-operative Brit who’d done nothing worse than slightly *cough* overloading a Transit van they felt that jail time was far too heavy-handed.

Without their co-operation, Mr VOSA was pretty much toothless.

I was given a release which allowed me to drive my Transit-van-and-a-half worth of possessions to my folks’, and instructions to bring it back for checking once it was unloaded, which I duly did. About 4 hours later.

Now, I could be wrong but I really got the feeling that Mr VOSA was seething underneath. I have a feeling someone was on a quota. He did, however, seem to take great delight in informing me – several times – that I’m now on a Register. Dum-Dum (and indeed)… Dummmmmmm. Let’s face it, there are worse registers to be on than one listing people who’ve put too many boxes of books into a Tranny van. I am not psychologically scarred, though any monetary donations towards a pre-emptive session of counselling (or hard drinking) will be welcomed.

I am, however, proud to say that in 32 years that’s the closest I’ve ever come to going into jail. It’s almost embarassing that it’s for something so inane. If I ever do get locked up, I want it to be for something really worthwhile. Maybe having too large a spoiler on the back of my chav-mobile, or flicking my windscreen wipers one time too many for the prevailing conditions.

Time to switch the cynical mode off and sleep mode on. I don’t know why I’m bothering to go abroad when there are so many thrills and adventures to be had here at home.

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