For Prose for Thought this week, hosted again at Verily, Victoria Vocalises, I’m publishing a little ‘word picture’ that I put together a good while ago, and which is (if the person who recounted the incident to me, an even longer time ago, is to be believed) founded on fact. All I’ve done is to add a little colour and atmosphere, for which, as they say, I haven’t charged you any extra.
Just a point before I go on: I am certainly not wanting to make a joke of drinking and driving in itself, which tragically claims lives, nor to mock efforts to control it, by publishing this. I most certainly support the police in their efforts. OK? Then I’ll continue…
Somewhere near the centre of a Midlands city, at around 11 pm. on a Friday, a police patrol car has stopped behind a small and rather battered-looking white van. The car’s blue beacon is still flashing. The officer has walked from his car to the driver’s door of the van, and opened it. The ‘motorist’ has fallen out, his head and body on the road, his feet still tangled in the pedals. A miasma of beer-laden breath pervades the immediate vicinity.
This is the moment. The officer’s mien is static, his face inscrutable. The erstwhile driver of the van is motionless simply because he is helpless. The rotating beacon is the only visible sign of any movement, indifferent to the frozen charade over which its blue beam traverses.
And then, the moment is over. The incoherent occupant of a small piece of tarmac attempts to pick himself up but success eludes him. The officer begins a dialogue with a question which epitomises the paradoxical dignity that accompanies the absurdity of official inflexibility:
“Have you been drinking, sir?”