Anyone caught by a speed camera has already served their punishment, so you can feel a little bit of sympathy for those captured by an all-seeing but unthinking automaton. It’s hardly what you would call a pleasant choice, but personally I’d rather have my collar felt by an actual police officer than get an anonymous bit of paper in the post.
I was fortunate enough to have my wish granted just the other night too. I’ll start the case for the defence by saying that I was observing the speed limits when I got pulled over, so there was nothing about my driving that would have aroused the suspicions of The Law. Sadly the rest of the circumstances meant that I stuck out like a fluorescent-painted sore thumb.
For starters I was driving a Lamborghini Aventador – a £242,000 carbonfibre missile, painted white with black wheels and looking for all the world like something beamed down from another planet. Equally unhelpfully it was wearing Italian number plates, a quirk of Lamborghini’s demonstrators, and hence the reason why the Police National Computer pulled up a big fat zero.
It was also 2:15am on a Thursday, and I’d just paid a visit to a friend who lives on a council estate in Weston-Super-Mare. Lovely town that it is, Kensington and Knightsbridge have nothing to fear. That was probably the only Aventador that will ever get near the western seaside town. And I was wearing a beanie hat: because it was cold of course, but it also happens to be one of the favoured choices of head gear for the criminal fraternity.
Given the situation then, you could almost forgive a full-on blazing sirens intervention with me sprawled over the bonnet with my hands behind my back and all dignity lost. I’m happy to report that the reality couldn’t be more different.
Understandably the first questions centred around who I was and what on earth I was doing with a quarter of a million pound car on dodgy plates in the middle of the night. Despite knowing I was guilty of nothing more than being an extremely lucky blighter, it was hard not to come across as a bumbling fool trying to make up a good excuse on the spot. But I managed to explain why the car was in my possession, why it was on Italian plates and what I was doing in Weston-Super-Mare.
And once my story was checked out, the friendly but serious male officer allowed his professional demeanour to thaw a little. We talked about how powerful it was and that the Aventador is the replacement for the Murcielago (good knowledge there), while the female officer did a double take when I told her the list price.
Then without even the customary “drive carefully”, the officers waved me on my way, wishing me well and politely suggesting I “enjoyed the car”. What could have been a deeply regrettable experience turned into one that confirmed the value of having real people doing a job that needs to be done by a human being. And should you be simultaneously lucky and unlucky enough to own an Aventador and have it stolen, rest assured that your local bobbies will know what it is and have no hesitation in making sure the keys are with the rightful owner.