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Nov. 19th, 2009

So if a group of you, a group that includes two police chief inspectors out of uniform, is in Edinburgh at the start of an evening and is about to cross a road where most traffic has been diverted but buses have the right of way, but one of the chief inspectors wanders out into the road anyway, and you don’t really notice him but you do see a female colleague about to step into the road right in front of you and you’re dimly aware that there is now, somewhere in the vicinity, a bus, and you shout out the words “Come back, buses can go down there”, and she hears you but so does the chief inspector, who stops and turns in the middle of the road, only to find himself frozen in the headlights of the bus that is now speeding towards him… Well, if anything happens to him, should you be in any way culpable in any subsequent proceedings that might involve the word “manslaughter”?


I only ask because, although in the event he was fine, it was a close-run thing. It was exactly the moment that films try to recreate: him cemented to the spot by surprise and fear, with all the bystanders experiencing the horror of events in slow motion. Impressively, the bus didn’t actually stop at any point; it did eventually slow down a bit, at around the point where our hero woke from his daze just in time and stumbled out of the way, but the driver was clearly keen to teach this jaywalking miscreant a lesson, even if the process involved actually killing him.

The policeman, now in mild shock, waited for the bus to power on past and then made his way back to us. The fact that he did so by walking directly in front of a slower-moving car, normally in itself a notable event, went almost unnoticed; in fact, some of us only realised this by comparing our accounts afterwards. “Jesus, that was lucky,” he said as he stepped on to the pavement. “Do you know what a fucking nightmare the paperwork would have been?”

The rest of the evening was mainly taken up with making fun of him, with which, to his credit, he duly joined in. Even the most deserted road took an age to cross, as we all physically restrained him from leaving the pavement until the lights changed. “Aye,” he said, “25 years in the force and I nearly get skelped by a number 31 bus. I don’t feel I can tell anyone else off for any misdemeanours now.” His commanding officer sat opposite him in the restaurant, occasionally just shaking his head or saying things like “I see dead people”. “Quite honestly,” he said at one point, “I recommend it. It turns out a near-death experience is bracing.”

I was disturbed over the next couple of days to discover that his version of events—where I had gleefully and recklessly enticed him, some irresistible siren to his blundering Highway Code-averse Odysseus, into the path of an oncoming double-decker—had gained traction. I was advised that I needed to get my own account out there, one that steered my reputation firmly away from labels such as “authoritative-voiced maniac” or, simply, “cop-killer”. In that spirit, I make the following announcement:
Last weekend I arranged the best god-damn road safety demonstration involving a serving police officer that anyone is ever likely to see.

In an unsettling twist, the entire incident seems to have been scripted by the makers of the Final Destination films, as mid-Lothian arterial buses bear a distinctive name and logo: the death card.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Nov. 23rd, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
Claiming the 31 of spades as the Ace of spades seems to be so wilfully and clearly wrong that I am forced to tip my hat.

Would Mel Gibson be in Leithal Weapon? As William Wallace? What role would Danny Glover have? And please tell me that there would be no room for Joe Pesci.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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