Incident with Dad’s scooter!
While staying in Essex with my Mum and Dad, and as they were rather isolated by virtue of the little village in which they lived, transport of some sort was very important unless one desired a hermit existence.
On one summer weekend afternoon (believe a Saturday), I wanted to go into Clacton just for a change of scenery and, as Mum was at work (her scooter was therefore not available), Dad said that I could take his. He noted that his insurance was going to expire that day, but that was not going to be a problem. What I did not realize (did Dad?) was that the insurance coverage expired at noon!
There are three significant factors to understand with this situation.
The first one is that, at that time, I had not taken a driving test. This was not an issue as long as I displayed the red “L” (Learner) plates front and back.
The second one is that Clacton was a regular trouble spot as “Mods” (the scooter guys), and “Rockers” (the motorcycle guys) both tended to go there at weekends and clash on a regular basis and generally cause trouble. The result of those regular conflicts was that the police were out in force over the weekends during the summer season.
The third one is that when driving with “L” plates, you were not allowed to carry a passenger. If you can imagine an 18 year old Colin going into Clacton for a change of scenery… who knows who he might meet? Who knows whether he might want to offer to take her somewhere for a coffee? The solution was to simply remove the “L” plates as having them on display, and with a passenger “on the back”, was an invitation to be pulled over by the police.
The day proved uneventful and, as I was heading for home, a police car passed me and “dropped” in front of me. The “Police Stop” sign went up in the rear window, so I stamped on the brakes and stopped! The police car pulled over about 20-30 yards ahead of me and the driver got out and faced me. The unintentional “stand-off” was resolved as he beckoned me to drive up to him. I didn’t want to appear like a “learner” so I decisively let go of the clutch and twisted the throttle but something went wrong. I was not firmly in gear and so the engine just whined as I fumbled the gears until the scooter jumped forward and we (the scooter and I) went to meet our destiny.
“Can I see your license?” (A loaded question because my license would show that I was a “learner”, and yet I had no “L” plates on display.
“No I’m sorry. It’s at home”
“You’ve got three days to produce it” (as he writes down my name and scooter plate number)
“Can I see your insurance?”
“No… that’s at home as well” (It was!)
“Okay. Produce that with your driver’s license.”
…to be continued.