Monday, September 26, 2011

The Sound Of Da Police.

Whenever I am overtaken by a siren–swirling, lights-flashing police car, the first thing I do is make sure I’m not doing anything illegal. Then they zip on past and I realise I am not the culprit this time, so thoughts turn to hoping that whatever crisis they are attending isn’t on my route. Which is an awful thing to admit, but yes, that’s what I think. Carnage up ahead? I hope it’s not on the M4.

I do love moving aside for the emergency services though. It’s exciting. For that split moment you are working with the emergency services. Come on lads, go forth and rescue – I’ll just move onto the pavement momentarily! I know it’s a legal requirement to move aside when you hear those sirens or see those flashing lights, but it always warms the cockles of my heart that we do it. A little nod of respect to the people who clear up after us.

So I joined the M4 and quickly realised that unfortunately, yes, the police car was on its way to attending to the carnage on my route.

Another police car raced up the hard shoulder.

But I didn’t mind. I joined the standstill and immediately turned off my engine like the dutiful little do-gooder that I sometimes am.

Two more police cars. Three police motorbikes. Then an ambulance. Another police car. Highway maintenance. A paramedic. Another ambulance. Two fire engines. Then a helicopter circled overhead before landing in the field adjacent to the crash. Crikey. It was all kicking off.

Like a scene from an end-of-the-world movie, people fled from their cars. Well, fled is a bit strong. Got out to get a better look, is more apt. Strangers spoke to each other. For international readers, that does not happen here in Engurland.

The crash was in sight. Just a mere 500 metres away, I could see the flashing lights of the fire engines from my seat. It must have only just happened. The hairs on my arms stood on end as I thought that if I had not stayed an extra minute at my sister’s house, it could have been me.

I watched as the strangers spoke to each other. Moaning about the delay. Tutting and shaking their heads. Looking at their watches. Peering up ahead as if the extra inch tiptoes provide will give the necessary conclusion to their crash related theories. Making emergency phone calls ‘Darling, I’m going to be late for dinner. Some idiot’s had a crash.’

Ouch. Bit harsh.

I, I’ll have you know, did nothing of the sort. I played Sudoku on my phone and thought about how much I love the emergency services.

Instead of getting annoyed that someone had been in a clearly serious accident, I got annoyed – irate, even, with the petrol guzzling 4x4 next to me, the driver of which, Sloane Ranger, did not turn her engine off for FORTY FIVE MINUTES. I wanted to get out of my car and march up to her, to suggest that maybe she’d like to reduce her carbon footprint and turn off her noisy engine, seeing as we clearly weren’t going anywhere and keeping her engine running wasn't going to get her home any quicker.

But I didn’t. I just quietly plotted her demise while Sloane Ranger’s children scrambled all over the roof of her car and took pictures of the crash on their iphones. Over and over again, she threatened: ‘If you do that one more time I’ll smack you.’ Yet every time they did the thing one more time, no one got smacked. Except my sanity. That took a beating.

Some Arrogant Scurriers then decided to take crowd control into their own hands, siphoning off into the hard shoulder in an attempt to excuse themselves from waiting.

Oh my god! Are you mental? You’re getting in the way! An ambulance screeched to a halt behind some Mercedes-driving nimrod who had thought they were above the law. Sirens went from ne-na ne-na to a furious WA WA WA WA WA WA WA and then a kind of deafening pitch that they obviously reserve for times like this. Forget rubber necking the accident – the real action was over here on the hard shoulder. Old nimrod had to shimmy up the grass bank to get out of the way, while we all laughed at him. Or at least, I did a little smirk. I don’t know if I had any comrades. Sloane Ranger was too busy issuing empty threats to her spoiled brat children to notice the drama unfold.

Another paramedic.

A police car.

The helicopter took to the skies, bypassing London’s traffic as it made its way to the nearest hospital. I was truly humbled.

I thought back to the early days of civilisation and how emergency services must have evolved. The tribes people were going about their day when suddenly a hut was on fire. Some people screamed and ran for the hills. Others stayed and gawked. While others, the future emergency services, rose to the challenge. They brought pails of water, they rescued babies.

‘Wow, you were quite handy then,’ the chief of the village debriefed. ‘Would you mind being on standby in case we get in a pickle again?’

And the future emergency service people said yes, we will do that. ‘But just one stipulation,’ they said. ‘When we are needed, you lot get the hell out of the way. And don’t use the hard shoulder, for Christ’s sake.’

That is probably exactly as it happened in 250AD. Verbatim.


Tom said...

Sterling work Kimbo.

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