I am aware that people can develop a phobia about opening their mail. Old school mail I mean, the stuff that comes through our letter boxes although I expect that this fear applies to electronic mail also.
I understand this phobia or anxiety. Despite my frequent email culls, rather unhelpfully my inbox keeps a tally of the number of unread mails that are patiently waiting for my attention. Currently, standing at 4835 at the time of writing and counting. Missed gigs amongst them I imagine as comedy bookings migrate online like everything else these days. Why bother speaking anymore when we can type.
And physical post – from the postman or mailman can certainly torment because no one writes letters anymore or sends cheques, so the post is rarely good news. Letters from financial institutions I have never heard of and can’t recall ever engaging. Government correspondence is particularly welcome in utilitarian brown envelopes, it remains unopened for as long as I dare. Same for mail from my accountants because they never have good news for me. I tend to let mail accumulate until the pile reaches a certain threshold and then I finally relent, opening it all in a flurry and with some trepidation. I create piles…
Stuff that is important although I am unsure why and where to put it.
Stuff that needs to be acted upon and my favourite pile – stuff that can be binned straightaway.
And so it was this week, with my large pile of unopened mail which includes a large amount of post for my various sons – most of which is filed in a crude way and will handed over for them to process.
Not much mail for me this time – until I come to an official looking letter addressed to Mr D A Holland. It looks like it is from my local authority – probably informing me of tax rises (never ever reductions) but I pay by Direct Debit, so it will require no action from me (aside from the extra cash of course).
But I am wrong. A single sheet of white paper and immediately I spot the letterhead, Metropolitan Police… my spirits plummet. Law abiding citizen that I am, what have I done?
I take myself off somewhere quiet so I can read the letter and assess the damage. How much and for what?
Scanning the document, I glean fragments of news – all bad…
“Speeding”, “camera evidence”, “£1000 fine”, “six points”, “prosecution…”
Processing all these nasties I start to read again and more carefully this time so I can piece things together. Most importantly, the time and the place of the offence? Then how fast? How grave? And am I going to jail?
Having established this information, I am now in to my phone, consulting my diary, trying to recall my whereabouts on the day in question. Trying to recall my comings and goings that day. It was only last week and yet so difficult to recall – a sure sign of my advancing years. I know the road alright but did I use it on this day? My phone diary is blank on this day (Covid and me being a comedian) and it offers no clues at all.
Then I take the bad news to share with Nikki. That our car has been caught on camera. I provide the date and location and Nikki begins the same process as me.
And with this, some good news emerges. For me anyway because it was Nikki driving and not me. This might seem cruel but immediately my day cheers slightly.
Recently my childhood football team, Brentford won their first ever 3 points in the English Premier League – a joyous achievement for such an unheralded club and matching the number of points that are about to be added to Nikki’s driving licence.
I am relieved it is not me and I am relieved again that I am not cross with my wife for driving so recklessly.
Since we began driving, almost 40 years ago, the speed limit on this road has been 30mph – which Nikki was well within when the camera caught her – but recently the speed has been reduced to 20mph – in the name of safety and not income.
Speed kills as the slogan goes. No doubt this is true. It doesn’t require an advanced grasp of physics to understand that a slower moving vehicle is less dangerous.
Speed kills. But speed also pays. Speed provides a great bounty with the army of cameras that now carpet our land.
And then my phone rings. It is my son, Harry and he is not happy. He has just opened his mail and has a letter from the Met Police also.
“Dad, what is motoring violation 52J…”
(these were not his exact words)
Cameras are said to click. But in the case of motoring fines in the United Kingdom – it might be more accurate to replace ‘click’ with ‘Ker-Ching’.